How to Create a Custom Teacher Toolbox

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One of the best organizing decisions I ever made was creating a teacher toolbox.   The toolbox corralled all of the necessary, yet small and annoying, supplies in my classroom.  Fast-forward several years through the transition from classroom teacher to homeschool mom, and I still use my teacher toolbox. 

What is a Teacher Toolbox?

Well, it’s basically just a regular plastic toolbox that’s filled with your teacher essentials instead of screws and nails. All of your supplies are within arm’s reach and therefore easily accessible.

But since we don’t want just any plain plastic toolbox sitting in our classrooms, we need to jazz them up with some spray paint and adorable labels that match our classroom or homeschool décor.

Choosing the Right Container

Choosing the right teacher toolbox container for your needs is key! They come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties; so knowing what you intend to store will dictate the one you purchase.

If you want a toolbox that can hold all of your teacher supplies, a mixture of large and small drawers might be most appropriate selection. On the other hand, if you’re thinking about creating a toolbox to hold all of your mini erasers, then you’ll want one that contains more small drawers.

Here are some that I really like from Amazon!

My Toolbox

My teacher toolbox container has 8 large drawers and 14 small drawers.  At the time I made mine, there were not as many options as there are now. But, I still love this one because…

  • the large drawers are big enough to hold lead pencils, colored markers, sharpies, scotch tape, 3×3 post-it notes, and extra large binder clips
  • the small drawers are the right fit for flash drives, small post it notes, staples, binder clips, paper clips, magnets, command strips, sticky tack, push pins, rubber bands, and book rings.

How to Create a Teacher Toolbox

Making a teacher toolbox is really quite simple!  But I have some tips that will make the process even easier.

Here’s What You Need

1. Remove all of the drawers from your toolbox 

You don’t want to paint the drawers or you won’t be able to see your adorable teacher toolbox labels.  Once you’ve removed all of the drawers, be sure to place them in an area away from where you will be spraying. 

2. Prep your spraying area in a well-ventilated space

Because spray painting can get a little messy, I always create a barrier between the item I’m spraying and the surface I’m using.

Typically, I use an empty pizza box or flattened Amazon box since we always have an abundance of them.  But, you can use a tarp, drop cloth, or anything else that will keep the surface free from spray residue.

Just remember that whatever you use will end up covered in spray paint…so consider using something that you don’t mind getting messy.

Quick Tip If you choose to spray your teacher toolbox in the yard, cardboard is the best option because it will provide a harder surface than the tarp or drop cloth and it will keep the grass from potentially smearing your paint.

3. Time to paint 

I’ve used a variety of different spray paints in the past, but some of my favorites are Krylon, Valspar Premium Finish, and Rust-Oleum. They cover plastic well and dry quickly!

Remember when you’re spray painting to LIGHTLY cover as much of the teacher toolbox container as you can with the first coat.  You want to pay close attention to the back, sides, and edges because these areas tend to get overlooked.  

As you apply the first coat, don’t be surprised if some places get a little more heavily covered than others.  The next couple of coats will even out all of the lighter and darker spaces.  

Quick Tip Whenever you’re spray painting, be sure to constantly move the spray paint; if you keep it in one location too long, it will drip and streak.  I’ve found that several light coats ALWAYS cover better than a couple of heavy coats.

4. Use a Topcoat

Once your teacher toolbox container has been painted and is no longer tacky to the touch, you need to apply a topcoat. 

After I painted my teacher toolbox white, I quickly discovered why you need a topcoat. (Notice the lovely black rings that have stained the gorgeous white?)

Even though I waited until the paint was dry, as soon as I placed an item on top, it immediately stuck to the toolbox and left black marks.

Quick Tip Don’t skip this step…even though I know you want to!  I know you’re excited to get your teacher toolbox container put together and it’s tempting to ignore my warning, but this step is KEY to having a toolbox that looks good for years.

5. Choose Your Teacher Toolbox Labels

While the topcoat is drying, you can work on your teacher toolbox labels.  There are tons of options to choose from, but these are my favorites!

Remember, you want to choose a collection that suits your style and the theme of your classroom so that your toolbox container blends seamlessly into the aesthetic you’ve created!

6. Customize Your Labels in PowerPoint

These teacher toolbox labels are ALL editable, so if you’re mixing some of the pre-made labels with some custom labels of your own, you’ll want to download the matching fonts.

7. Print Out and Attach Your Labels

Once you’ve finished customizing your labels, you need to print the labels on cardstock and cut them out. Position the labels inside the front of the drawer and use Scotch tape to keep them in place. (This will keep them from moving when you add your teaching supplies.)

Some people like to adhere their labels to the outside of the drawers using double-sided tape. However, if you choose to do this, the labels are more likely to look worn out or to fall off based on the number of times you access the contents each day.

Ultimately, the decision is yours…there’s really no right or wrong answer to the location of the labels.

8. Replace the Drawers

After you get your labels in place, simply fill the drawers with your most coveted teacher supplies (which in my case would be large amounts of chocolate). Then pat yourself on the back because you did it!

You just created a completely customized teacher toolbox for your classroom that exudes the perfect amount of charm and functionality.