Sustainer boxes - keep or trash

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Forum topic by bluekingfisher posted 01-27-2015 09:26 AM 5629 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1333 posts in 4269 days

01-27-2015 09:26 AM

It occured to me the other day while trying to create a little more storage space in my small shop that the bulk of the space is taken up by power tool sustainer cases.

I could create a lot more space if I were to get rid of a lot of these cases, however and for some reason I just can’t get my head around throwing them out. And, although bulky they rarely have space inside for more than the one tool.

Whilst I appreciate some of the more delicate tools, such as track saws or a routers, with all their accessories would benefit from a dedicated sustainer, tools such as drills and biscuit jointers could happily reside in the relative safety of a drawer. I suspect the cases are neccesary for contractors to protect the tools from bouncing around in the back of a van.

So what do you think for shop based tools? Do you guys keep all sustainers, or are they banished to the trash to free up space.


-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

25 replies so far

View rick1955's profile


264 posts in 2720 days

#1 posted 01-27-2015 09:57 AM

Festool has systainers for their tools. Have you looked up the definition of sustainer??? All others simply have useless cases. For the most part I toss them.
I use this case as a base for tool cases. Having cases the same size makes a workable formula and it’s a common size of brief cases and small suitcase which I often find for free or $5 at Goodwill or Salvation Army.

-- Working smarter with less tools is a true crafts person...

View joey502's profile


558 posts in 2807 days

#2 posted 01-27-2015 10:20 AM

I put the cases in the trash as soon as I determine if the tool is worth keeping. They take up space I can use for more tools. The chance of me selling tools is slim due to the fact you lose all the value, I would rather keep them that get dimes on the dollar.

View jevarn71's profile


83 posts in 4449 days

#3 posted 01-27-2015 10:50 AM

I keep mine only because of the military moves I must endure. I’d rather have the tools in their cases and then packed in boxes. I even keep most of the boxes that ‘tools without cases’ come in for the same reason. ie. hand planes & saws…

-- Jason, JEV Woodworking

View kwolfe's profile


108 posts in 2854 days

#4 posted 01-27-2015 11:00 AM

I gues it depends. I keep the boxes for things like my drills, saws all, and track saw in case I need to take them to a friends house to help with a project. This way they are easier to carry. They can be a pain to open and close if you use the tool at home a lot, but if not, they do allow you to stack tools that might not be able to be stacked because of their shape.

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4093 days

#5 posted 01-27-2015 12:55 PM

I know I’m not the most organized person, yet, but, I have some tools in their own sustainers, and I have others out and in or on something else. I’m a horder of the plastic cases tho, (I have an attic space above my garage that I can store things like that), only because I’ve always thought if I were to ever sell that tool, having the case with it would possibly help the sale of it. (and paperwork as well)

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 3335 days

#6 posted 01-27-2015 01:14 PM

There’s a big difference between the value of the plastic blow mold cases that come with tools and actual storage systems (Tanos/Festool Systainers, Sortimo/Bosch L-Boxx, Dewalt T-STAK/Toughbox). I store all the blow mold cases into a corner under my staircase for the day I get rid of said tools.

The system of toolboxes however are well worth holding onto as they work very well together if mobility is important to you. I regularly have to move and relocate my tools so mobility is important to me. A system will also allow you to store relevant accessories with the tools. I have the T-STAK and use the drawer units to store my router bits/accessories, sanding pads/paper, and bits/screws to co-locate with the applicable tools.

-- paxorion

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

12443 posts in 4718 days

#7 posted 01-27-2015 02:16 PM

Maybe because of my work(?) habits (disorganized and haphazard), I find the use of “sustainer” cases forces me to be somewhat organized.
If I didn’t have the cases for things like Kreg tools, I’d be forced to make one. I’d never be able to keep all that stuff from hiding from me.
Plus, how does one store saber saws, nail guns and the like, in the space saving manner afforded by their cases?

The extra few seconds it takes to open a case is of little consequence to me as a hobbyist. To others, YMMV.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View bluekingfisher's profile


1333 posts in 4269 days

#8 posted 01-27-2015 03:43 PM

Rick1955 – There is no need for me to look up the word “sustainer”, the word sustainer is not exclusive to Festool, rather they have merely adopted the verb (sustain) and applied its definition to their storage boxes convincing those willing to pay inflated prices for what is afterall a plastic case. Never underestimate the power of marketing! Take a look in the dictionary – nowhere will you find the word “sustainer” and Festool in the same sentence. Least not in the dictionary I looked in??

However, as I initially mentioned, several “storage boxes” have a value and usefulness for certain tools, particularly those that can accomodate additional accessories which are vital for increased performance of the specific tool. Admitedly, Festool for example have improved the usefulness of their boxes by ensuring they are compatible with all boxes/case/sustainers in their product range ( as far as I believe at any rate). which can not be faulted of course.

However, I for example use Makita tools which offer some compatible sustainers, certainly the newer models at least. The older tools have blow molded cases of varying shapes and sizes, none of which can store anything other than the specific tool it was purchased with. A drill might not fit in a biscuit jointer case or a jigsaw case for example. Therefore, I have a stable of comparatively large blow moulded boxes of unusual shapes and sizes taking up lots of room while being able to store very little.

If I had unlimited space then they could be stacked in an out of the way place for when and if they left the shop, sadly this is not the case for me.

I am thinking of taking a trip to the recycling centre to dump them, I don’t even think they have a job lot secondhand resale value and the time and effort it takes to offer them up for free collection is just not worth a bunch of blokes turn up to sort through what they want and don’t want.

Perhaps a kerb side drop is the easist solution providing I remove all traces of identification from the box should they get scattered along the street by the local kids and then have the refuge department turn up at my house demanding a bill for litter clearance.

Rant over…...keep smiling and thanks for all who took the time to leave their thoughts and comments.


-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

View bigblockyeti's profile (online now)


7782 posts in 3010 days

#9 posted 01-27-2015 04:17 PM

The tools I use most often in my shop aren’t in a case and are located where I can get to them quickly. I don’t pitch the cases because they do offer the most protection for the tool if you need to move it around for any reason. Don’t get caught up in the hype about who produces the best cases (or whatever fancy marketing name they come up with), just because you paid more for it won’t necessarily make it better. Whatever case came with your tool is the best for that tool when considering protection, function and not to mention the fact that you already paid for it. Those tools that I only use occasionally are within reach, but usually left in the case to protect them and keep them clean. Those that get used rarely aren’t as easily accessed and left in the case.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

7177 posts in 4484 days

#10 posted 01-27-2015 05:19 PM

Hey amigo…...This is the case of “damned if you do, or damned if you don’t”.....In this scenario, it’s like owning a gun…..”It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it”.....I rest my case….!!!!

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

7301 posts in 3783 days

#11 posted 01-27-2015 05:39 PM

I’ve had one Systainer in my life (now and forever) and I sold it, without the tool. The rest of those useless plastic boxes get tossed, with only a few exceptions.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Loren's profile


11320 posts in 4937 days

#12 posted 01-27-2015 05:45 PM

Depends on the tool. My plate jointer came in a blow
molded case. I keep it in there because I use it
infrequently. I don’t actually keep that tool in the
shop. I go get it out of storage when I want it.

If I had more shop space I would probably pitch the
case and keep it in a drawer or something.

View daddywoofdawg's profile


1029 posts in 2864 days

#13 posted 01-27-2015 05:50 PM

everyday tools I don’t keep in the case,others I save because I’m a pack rat and there handy to use when I need to take a tool some where.but you can always flea bay them,people by them.

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 4360 days

#14 posted 01-27-2015 06:32 PM

The biggest pain with most manufacturer-supplied cases is getting the cord to fit back into a case so the case will close. I still use the cases that came with most of my tools, but I often don’t use the cases for corded or cordless tools that I use frequently, like drills or sanders. If I don’t use a given tool for 2 or 3 days, then I put it back in the case.

I wouldn’t throw a tool case away in case I want to sell it later, but then I don’t have a dozen routers like some people.

To me, Systainer/L-Boxx/Tstak storage cases are only incrementally better because they hold the accessories nicely and have plenty of room for cords, but they waste a lot more space. The interlocking feature is nice, but I still feel like I have to remove containers from the top of the stack if I need to get to something 3 or more containers down from the top. I think a cabinet with slide-out shelves or drawers is a lot more practical than a Systainer-style storage system if your tools rarely leave your home.

On a couple occasions I’ve also had to ask my wife to bring some of my tools to me when we were working on something inside the house or away from home. She knows a few tools by name and appearance but not all of them, so I labeled all the cases. If I tell her to look for a blue Bosch case or a black Porter Cable case on my tool shelves, that quickly narrows down her search. As long as the tools are in their cases, she just has to find the right color box with the right label and throw that box in the car.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

View bonesbr549's profile


1589 posts in 4356 days

#15 posted 01-27-2015 07:00 PM

Naw they are trash. I’m a good guy so I’ll give you 10 bucks a piece + pay shipping. That way you don’t have to worry and I’ll dispose of in an environmentally safe manner (TIC)

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

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