If you still believe that shadowing is for you, it is time to get down to business. Shadowing a toolbox yourself is a very laborious process, but it is hundreds if not thousands of dollars cheaper than having it done for you. If you are like me, you would rather spend that money on tools that you can use to make money. If you are considering shadowing, keep in mind that it will only help you to find things if you keep your tools put away. I always pile my tools on top of my box throughout the day, and then take ten minutes to put them all away at the end of the day. I have found that this method allows me to keep tools handy and easily found. Having a place for everything really helps things to get put back where they belong.
There are a lot of retail options out there for foam, but most of them run $30+ a drawer. Message boards and forums drew my attention to a Camping Pad that Wal-Mart sells for $7.47, and it should do at least two drawers for the bargain basement price of roughly $4 a drawer!
That foam, combined with the black drawer liner that you likely already have, is all that you need to get started.
After you get your foam flattened out, take the drawer liner out of the drawer you want to shadow and lay it on top of your foam pad. Use a yardstick or some kind of a straight-edge as a guide and a SHARP utility blade, and cut the drawer shape out of the pad.
It is also important to consider at this point whether or not you will need to leave room for future expansion. It is very frustrating to have a drawer just how you would like it, and then find that you will need another tool that will require you to re-cut the whole drawer! I cannot stress too much how important it is for you to take your time and think through this process!
One thing that has worked beautifully for me and saved me a ton of time was buying Mechanic's Time Saver Socket Holders. I simply cut around the base of the holders, and they look great and still allow me to see if I have sockets missing and also to take my complete set of sockets if I need to go out on the line. My 3/8 drive deep well sockets are just barely able to stand up in the drawer, so make sure that you have the clearance you need! I also had a Lock A Socket Rail, but it was too tall for the deep well sockets, so I use it for the shallow well sockets. I have a cheap metal rail for my 3/8" universal set, and it works pretty well as well.
One other note I wanted to share was that you need to be careful how you store spring loaded pliers if you choose to store them with the handle compressed. If you do not leave enough foam to carry some strength, your handles may compress the slots for neighboring pliers when they are removed. (Voice of experience speaking here).
Now that you have the drawer all laid out, you can begin to cut. Here is the best way that I have found thus far:Use needle nose vise grips to grab a the smallest exacto knife blade that you can find. I prefer the vise grips because of their low profile and the ease of changing blades and blade angle. OSHA required note, do not be dumb and cut yourself, and if you do, please do not sue me for telling you how to do this.
Using the exacto knife and a slight sawing motion to cut the exact outline of the tool PART WAY through the foam. The smaller the exacto knife blade you use, the more fine your corners will be. I work my way through the drawer, removing each tool after I cut around it.
I did not cut all the way through the foam, I just cut the foam on an angle so that the black underneath the grips would not be exposed.
Another way that you can make handgrips easily for screwdrivers or other big sets is to simply cut a long slot in the foam. I filled my slot in the screwdriver drawer with the piece I cut out cut in half.
If anybody has other ideas or tips, I would love to hear them. I am always a student! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can just post comments.