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Thread: Systainers?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Michigan
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    Systainers?

    In my small shop most things are kept in drawers and anything like packaging is turfed out rather than claiming space. Tools like drills share bits etc with other drills and are easily accessed from drawers. If my router lived in a Systainer the accessories would have to live elsewhere, at least most of them would. My key is drawers sized to the contents.

    Tool Cabinet.JPG

    So this is what works for me. When the work is not in the shop but is in walking distance I get in a lot of steps. When further away it's a bigger challenge, but that's not often.

    Clearly I am missing something. How do Systainers help?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    This is totally a subjective thing, Tom, both for personal preferences around organization as well as functionally how we use our tools. So you are not "missing anything". It's just a choice.

    I've actually moved to a more formal Systainer arrangement for my portable power tools which while mostly Festool, also includes some DeWalt devices. I even took three of the oldest that were in "Classic" systainers and put them in current generation boxes to normalize access. (The three older Systainers will be used for static storage space) A recent project saw me building shop cabinets with drawer/shelves to make access to the Systainers easier. And that means I actually put tools back and out of the way immediately when I'm done using them because it's easy. That was not the case when the Systainers were just randomly stacked.

    Now I'm not personally going to do Systainers for hardware and doo-dads. I have other storage for that, much like you show in your photo. But I don't begrudge anyone who chooses to use the Systainer organizers as an alternative. It's a good, functional system.

    This is where I'm at presently. There will be two more cabinets stacked above the two near the door.

    SystainerCabinets.jpg
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    San Francisco, CA
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    10,338
    Systainers might be useful to folks who work out of their trucks. But I'm with you: packaging, even high-quality packaging, is kinda useless in a shop. If Festool offered tools without the systainer, that's what I'd be buying.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Lexington, KY
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    198
    Seems to me that Festool’s entire product line is developed with folks who work in the trades in mind. I have my systainers loaded on festool hand trucks (which I find pretty crappy and flimsy, but they work) organized for installations on job sites. Super fast to throw in a truck or van and roll out and stay organized on site. I’ve worked around plenty of guys who poke fun at systainers and Festool, but also see how disorganized those guys usually are on job sites. In the shop I’m predominantly using larger stationary tools, but if I need a tool in a systainer I know exactly where it is. I also have tool cabinets and shop made drawers. They each serve a purpose. I don’t see it as one vs another or one is right and the other is wrong.

  5. #5
    I agree. I have two systainers, that the Domino and tenons came in. The tenon one is sort of OK, but takes up a lot of room, needs a big place to sit to be opened, and I worry that it will break. The other one just takes up room- I should give it away.

    I do have boxes for some tools- power planes (stay tuned for post on this), beam saw, and wheel sander, that need some protection. Also router bits are in a box that must be taken out and opened, but most other stuff is in a drawer or on a shelf.

    Not even good for working out of a truck, IMO. I have a work truck (van) that is largely based on drawers. I see endless van layouts proudly displayed that are stuffed with boxes where adding one sheet of plywood or basically any materials would make almost everything inaccessible. For an onsite carpenter who must haul a whole tool kit to any given job and maybe unload the truck every night it makes sense- my former employee does this with I think Milwaukee boxes and he's a natural who leaves other guys in the dust.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Peoria, IL
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    4,656
    I just bought a fifth wheel camping trailer and now doing work at the camp. Both repairing and doing some little hobby work. I wouldn't be without the sustainers now.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2022
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    Northern Colorado
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    Itís just a preference/choice and depends on your workflow. Iím a huge fan of drawers and Systainers to keep things in their place, organized and dust free. My workflow is methodical and compartmentalized so drawers and sustainers help me keep streamlined and never too far into chaos. Iím pretty disciplined about getting new tools after the others are put away. I just canít work and be creative in chaos.

    Iím presently building an 8020 workbench I designed myself completely around how it work and how I will store the tools I use. Will be posting that in the workshop forum when Iím done.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    Wayland, MA
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    Fortunately I have a big hayloft to store the empty systainers because I can't bear to throw them away.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Toronto Ontario
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    11,316
    Tom, Systainers help me when I have to pack tools for work, if I only worked in my shop I wouldnít have a use for them

    Stack a few systainers on the vacuum, wheel them to where youíre working, a very nice system

    Regards, Rod

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2021
    Location
    Redmond, OR
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    633
    Luckily I have a large attic space where I can store Systainers and every other tool specific case I have collected over the years... I would actually hate to have to throw them out.

    The only tool specific case I actually use is my fathers 1950's Stanley router case with separate power planer base and door hinge template. It actually makes a nice all in one kit when hanging doors. All my other cases take up WAY too much space and have WAY too little storage for all of the accessories. I am not a contractor which is where I could see an actual use for the Systainer system. My shop is about 100 yards from the house so when I do a project at the house I load up the back up the pickup with the tools I need to minimize extra unwanted exercise from walking back and forth (which I invariably do anyway but at least not with heavy tools, usually.)

    For working in the shop cases just get in the way and add extra work for unpacking and putting away the tool.

    I do like the look of the Milwaukee "PackOut" system and I do have a Milwaukee 18v shop vac... but then I remember that I have absolutely NO USE for such a cool system!
    Last edited by Michael Schuch; 05-05-2024 at 9:03 PM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Posts
    61
    I always thought systainers were a waste of space and for people who don't actually work in the shop, just show off the shop to the neighbors. Then I got a Domino and the second systainer full of Domino's. My 3rd Festool was the drill. And just like a drug, I was hooked, not just on what I perceive to be pretty high quality tools but the systainer storage system, i started buying a lot of Festool's and also empty Systainer's to store other power tools and hand tools and making drawer cabinets to hold them in. The systainers have helped me tremendously organize my shop so that now I don't waste a few hours every day looking for tools, I know exactly where they are. Also convenient when I have to do work at my mothers or daughter's house. Systainers are a organization tool for some people like I was before, tools all over the workbench or in milk crates on the floor is good organization, but I changed after a few systainers.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
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    9,252
    This was the beginnings of my "systainer" waterproof toolbox system in 2012 built in a house I was flipping. The collection has grown considerably since then. When the boxes get dirty, I just hose them off. I bought a vinyl cutter some years ago to put more professional looking labels on them but all that stuff is still in the boxes it came in.

    Those boxes were 20 and 25 dollars in 2012 and a few years after that when I started buying them. I still buy some as the tool collection grows, separates, and organization continues to specialize, but I think they're up to $45 or so now.

    It's nice to keep things together that go together so I can grab any box and have stuff organized and know where it is. I need to build a bigger shop for more cubbies because I've run out of room and the boxes just go up. Last I counted there was exactly a gross of them but I only have 100 cubbies that allow me to pull out a specific box without having to handle the others.

    Tools can stay any number of years between uses and come out just like I put them away.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Tom M King; 05-06-2024 at 8:03 PM.

  13. #13
    The amount of time lost to digging around for tools and things in a day adds up . Even if you are not the contractor, being an efficient employee makes you more productive without having to work any harder.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2022
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    Northern Colorado
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    That's nicely organized Tom, exactly how it should be IMHO. I pay homage to Festool Systainers and Milwaukee Packout (inherited quite a few when my father passed, doubling my collection) and it works our quite well. I always know where a tool is and all the accessories or complimentary tools that go with it are stored. Takes seconds to get and not much longer to put away.

  15. #15
    Yeah, I'm not a fan of unnecessary complications. And to me, the systainer stuff is an overly complicated problem, disguised as a solution. It takes up too much room and is harder to access than standard drawers and cabinets. Why pull out a box, move it to a table, to open a box to get what I want, and then have to replace the box, when I can just slide out a drawer to get what I want?

    It would make sense if I were a contractor and doing lots of work on location. It's not useless. But for me, it's just a hassle that takes up space that I hate to throw out because it might devalue the tool, should I ever decide to sell it.

    The systainer is actually the reason I didn't buy an ETS 125 ROS recently, even though that was the sander I wanted. I just couldn't shake the feeling that I was spending more just for junk I didn't want/need.

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