Protecting tools on the cheap
I have a small aluminum case for my on-the-go tool kit, but when I priced custom foam inserts to protect the tools inside, my jaw hit the floor. That's when I came up with a more affordable alternative.
I outfitted the case with custom trays made from two stacked layers of interlocking foam flooring tile designed for use in exercise rooms. The tiles come in thicknesses ranging from 3/8" to 1". I used 3/8"-thick tiles for my case.
First, I cut two tiles to fit inside the case. Then, I laid out my tools and traced their shapes on one of the pieces. With a crafts knife, I cut through the foam, keeping just inside the lines. (Practice cutting on scrap foam first until you get the hang of it.) Once I was satisfied with the tool fit—it should fit snugly into the cutout—I cut a pair of half-circle finger notches to make removing the tool easier. Finally, I glued the second, uncut piece of foam underneath the top piece as a backing. The box I used accommodates three layers of tools. This works great in drawers, too.
—Steve Martin, Northbrook, Ill.