SC Johnson Family Economics Blog
Monday, June 18, 2012

Organizing With Vintage Tool Trugs | Family Economics

By Cathe

Vintage nail boxes, tool trugs, and wooden caddies, totes and carriers are just a few of the many names used to describe my favorite organizational carriers that I’ve been collecting for years. Due to their weight, they may not be the most practical of carriers, but as organization décor, they are definitely the most charming.

I find these trugs at flea markets and garage sales and occasionally on Ebay and Etsy. Most trugs come compartmentalized with sections that are so great for organizing smaller items. All of mine are handcrafted – some possibly by a student in a woodshop class and a few others likely by a handyman using an old soda crate and scrap wood. I use many in my craft studio and around the house. If the compartments are too shallow or there are no compartments, jars, glasses and cups work well to keep pens and other items upright. 

tool trug with dyes

I use one to house all my vintage leather dyes and another holds vintage paint-by-number paintings.In my craft studio I keep one on my desk with rulers, pens and scissors. Trugs can be painted and embellished in so many ways. I like decorating them with vintage water-slide decals and cigar labels. 

trug with supplies

Cleaned up well, vintage tool trugs are ideal for organizing:
•    Craft supplies
•    Fruits and Vegetables
•    Garden Tools
•    Gift wrap ribbons, bows, tape and tags
•    Hardware
•    Kitchen utensils
•    Office supplies
•    Party utensils
•    Potted plants
•    Sewing notions
•    Stationery
•    Toiletries
•    Yarn and needles

Do you have any old trugs? What would you organize?

15 Comments so far

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On Wednesday, August 1, 2012, Nonna wrote

I became "hooked" on what we call tool boxes when I uncovered my grandfather's tool box. It was stuffed behind a work bench in my mom's "wash house". I love the look of the old smooth wood and it even still has notes written in pencil on the end of it. Since then, I've bought three more at different yard and estate sales. One is large enough to hold paper plates, plastic ware, and napkings in it's divided sections. I use it alot at church when we have covered dish dinners. I LOVE tool boxes.

On Monday, June 25, 2012, VJ from Oregon wrote

I will use my antique trug as a 4th of July center piece---filled with old chrome, red & blue thermos's filled with flowers

On Thursday, June 21, 2012, The Gathering Girls wrote

I love these stuffed with picnic plates, napkins and utensils! So cute sitting next to a flower pot on the picnic table. And... your napkins won't blow away!

On Wednesday, June 20, 2012, Lora from wrote

Thankyou for using the word "trug"! We have a gentleman that makes wonderful ones for our store that are a combo of industrial drawers and old barn wood, and when I called them a "trug", no one knew what I was talking about!

On Wednesday, June 20, 2012, Tracy from Cortland wrote

Having always referred to them as tool boxes, it's interesting to learnt hat there is actually an official term! I too, enjoy the versatility of different containers for arranging my "stuff". Thanks for sharing!

On Tuesday, June 19, 2012, Merri Jo in Chicago burbs wrote

Your decals add so much to the vintage look--I'd love to find some just like them!

On Tuesday, June 19, 2012, wrote

Those are adorable ~ great organizing ideas!

On Tuesday, June 19, 2012, Penny wrote

HI, I have never heard them called trugs before, but I love them just the same. I recently planted a very long trug with annuals, I use one for garden tools and another for magazines in the "reading room" ;-)

On Tuesday, June 19, 2012, gayle p - sag harbor, ny wrote

great ideas! Helps keeps things organized. thanks

On Monday, June 18, 2012, Tania from Washington State wrote

Love this! I have a few of my own... have never heard them called "trugs" before... you learn something new every day! :o)

On Monday, June 18, 2012, Christine Witt - Brush Dance wrote

Love these! Useful and lovely, too. I'm going to have to keep an eye out for some of these at our flea market.

On Monday, June 18, 2012, Last Minute Lynn wrote

Thanks for reminding me to look about with a "new eye".

On Monday, June 18, 2012, Yvonne from Chicago wrote

I have a rather large one that I use for sheet music and another that I believe was used for berry boxes and now is used for serving when I entertain. Love them both!

On Monday, June 18, 2012, Elaine in Maryland wrote

Such great organizers, Cathe! I'm going to keep a lookout for these. I can see one in my kitchen corralling recipes and circulars and Info that need to be handy. And, I'd like one for my sewing/craft space so things could come out of drawers. Thanks!

On Monday, June 18, 2012, Jess wrote

I love the one holding the vintage paint-by-numbers!


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