Teacher Toolbox (Printable)

July 26, 2012

Teacher Toolbox (Printable)

July 26, 2012

Ok, so I know everyone finished their teacher toolboxes like forever and a half ago–but I wasn’t really planning on decorating mine. You see, I am notoriously bad at spray painting. I really prefer to make everything on the computer…it comes out neat and clean and I can undo anything I don’t like.
But I kept seeing these beautifully decorated teacher toolboxes EVERYWHERE I went…the blogs, Pinterest, Monday Made It. I couldn’t escape the call to decorate it!

So I decided to keep it simple: black and white to go with my color scheme.

And I like seeing a bit of the content in the drawers, so I thought I would just decorate the little handles (this was the fun part!).

I printed, laminated, and sorted them…

Then hot glued them to each little drawer…
In the midst of all this, I vowed to actually spraypaint the box the right way. You know, a light coat first, then another one (following the directions on the can of how long to wait in between coats). And I did it! I painted three coats and it looked PERFECT! I was so, so proud of myself. I bragged to everyone within range about my painting skills.

This didn’t last.

That evening, I hauled my little white toolbox inside. It was still a bit tacky, but I really wanted to put the drawers inside. So I tried the first drawer. It wouldn’t fit in the box. I tried again and again. I thought, “maybe it’s still too tacky.” But I knew something wasn’t right.
Well, after a few more tries (please don’t laugh at me!) I figured it out. It was upside down. I had painted it the wrong way.
This wouldn’t be a problem, except the bottom (or top, so perhaps I should say “the bottom in Kristen’s world”) had adhered to the newspaper and had various bits of articles stuck all over it. This hadn’t bothered me before, but now this had to be the top!!

So, instead of waiting until the next day like a rational person, I rushed outside to finish it. But it was all too late. The sun was slipping behind the trees. The mosquitoes were converging. Various bits of plant life were blowing in the breeze and adhering instantly to the toolbox.

Suddenly, my old, familiar, impatient techniques had kicked in. Within 3 minutes, the entire thing was soaked and dripping and making those weird spider-webby things that always seem to happen to me when I spray paint (except in my perfect upside-down paint job this morning, of course).

(Look, I’m not even putting my blog name on this photo like I usually do because it’s a mess!)

So. It is what it is. From far away, it looks alright and matches my room. Up close is another story. Let it be known, this is the day I have sworn off spray paint for good. It’s all contact paper and hot glue from now on!

Anyhow, I am linking up my toolbox with all of the other lovely (nicely-painted!) ones that have been on…

Thank you Tara, I never would have had the guts to even make this if it weren’t for your linky party!!!

And I do have a little file to share–just in case anyone else hasn’t made a toolbox yet and would like to decorate the handles. It’s in an editable Powerpoint file, so it just needs little textboxes with your label names on it. These labels are designed to fit this specific box–I got it from Lowe’s. I hope someone can use it–someone who is much better spray painting than I am!!! 🙁

Click on the preview below for the file! 🙂


  • Mandy July 26, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Kristen, we have the same painting affliction!!!! I hate and have little patience for it too! I love the little black labels and may actually do this now!!!
    Thanks for sharing! It looks adorable!


    • Kristen July 26, 2012 at 7:11 pm

      Thanks Mandy! That's the problem for sure with me–lack of patience!!

  • Courtney July 26, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Haha! I am the same way! I want it done then and won't be patient enough to wait for the next day. I love your labels. Thanks for sharing Kristen!

    Swimming into Second

    • Kristen July 26, 2012 at 7:11 pm

      Thanks Courtney 🙂

  • Megan July 26, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Kristen..do you use your regular printer to print out all of these black labels? I run out of black ink ALL the time and I have a hard time printing so much black! But these are so cute, and I like the simplicity of just hot gluing them on!

    • Kristen July 26, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      Hi Megan, yes I do. I don't run out of black a lot. For some reason it's been the yellow I keep running out of lately! I don't know, I've always printed a lot so maybe I'm just used to it 🙂

    • Joy@Living On Trees July 27, 2012 at 3:01 am

      Just curious, where do you find the best value on ink? Do you use the Cartridge World refill service?

  • Elizabeth July 26, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    Ok, I'm laughing so hard that I'm crying a little 🙂 Kristen, it's going to be OK. Just periodically flip it over and look at the pretty side 🙂 I love your take on the labels. They look fantastic:)

  • Stephanie @ 3rd Grade Thoughts July 26, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Love this! I have redone mine a few times because I don't like the paper I keep choosing 🙂 This is the perfect solution!

    And I totally empathize with the spray paint issue- I only bought my organizer because it came in navy, so it matched from the get-go 🙂

    3rd Grade Thoughts

  • Ms. Mel July 26, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    I love how your toolbox turned out! What font did you use? I have some signs I need to make for outside my classroom door, and I love the look of the one you used.


    • Kristen July 26, 2012 at 7:22 pm

      Hi Mel, thanks! It's coffeshop expresso (or coffehouse expresso, but I know it's expresso) from Sweet Shoppe Designs. It's my fave!!!

    • Kristen June 29, 2013 at 11:11 pm

      Hi Chris! I got your comment, did you find it ok? Thanks for the kind words about my blog 🙂 🙂

  • Laurie July 26, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Oh this made me laugh!! This could so happen to me. I hope you laughed a bit. I tried spray painting for the first time on some white plastic drawers I had. I have NO patience either. I had dripping paint and bugs landing on it!

    The labels look great!!


    • Kristen July 26, 2012 at 7:53 pm

      I did laugh–I am just pathetic painting and have no choice but to laugh! Thanks Laurie, glad I'm not alone! 🙂

  • 4321Teach July 26, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Spray paint is frustrating. I commend you for trying to spray paint it. (I was too chicken, and the blue color goes well enough with my patriotic theme, that I didn't.) The only way I have had success with spray paint is to use an old sheet or plastic drop cloth to spray paint on. (I mean ratty looking, since I throw it away afterward.)


    • Kristen July 26, 2012 at 7:54 pm

      Thanks Emily!! Ya, I should have left it blue 🙂

  • Camille July 26, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    Kristen, Like Emily I just left mine blue because I have a blue/green forest theme going on (if I get my act together)! Thank you for sharing. I always think of you as being soooooo good at so many things, that it is nice to hear that there is something you are not good at – it makes you real. (Hope that makes sense and came out right!!)
    An Open Door

  • Erin July 26, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    I LOVE the tags, I've been waiting to tackle this project due to the rumor I've heard that the pencils and pencs don't go straight in the drawer. Is this true??

    Elementary Adventure

    • Kristen July 26, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      Hi Erin! Yes, they have to go at an angle. The pens aren't too bad and I'm just using some small mechanical pencils I love in my pencil drawer. I still like how it can hold all that other small stuff 🙂

  • Dana Baker July 26, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Kristen – Thanks for posting this! After seeing how cute your drawers came out, I added a stop at Lowe's to my errand list for tomorrow! I have the same problem with painting though – I may just leave mine blue!
    Thanks for sharing the labels!!!

  • Mrs. Castro July 26, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Seriously! I just finish mine this week and then you post your idea and make me want to redo the whole thing for a second time! Honestly…I should just make a point of only creating what you create so I don't go through this again! Yours is lovely!
    Mrs. Castro's Class

  • Lauren July 26, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    I have the same painting problem!! I spray painted some really cute tin pails and they have drips all over! 🙁 But most of them have at least one good side! Thanks for sharing the printable! I have the same organizer- no spray paint though- I put scrapbook papers in each drawer to fancy it up. 🙂 Anyway, I've been looking for some printables for it since I made it several months ago!

  • primary practice July 26, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Kristen, I love the clean. neat simplicity of your white on black handle labels-and I have that font too-love it!

    primary practice

  • Ms.M July 26, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    I feel for you. This is why I never spray paint. :/ Don't worry you can cover it with contact paper at a later time. 🙂


  • Nichole Falkowski July 26, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    I love your labels! They look great on the handles. I couldn't sympathize more with the spray paint…I always chicken out and cajole my husband into doing it for me. 😉

    Craft of Teaching

  • cheermom3 July 26, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    I Love this tool box!!! I just found your blog tonight and was wondering where you found the tool box!!

    • Kristen July 27, 2012 at 1:37 pm

      Thanks! It's from Lowe's, there's a green link at the end of the article to the box.

  • Miss Nelson July 26, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Very neat labels. I'm the world's worst spray painter. I usually have more on me than the piece I'm spraying. I just spent over $100 on spray paint and now hate the shelves that I sprayed. I'm definitely with you. I seriously need to stop trying.

  • Dianne July 26, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    My intent was to say that I also suffered from the spray painting blues but after reading all of the above comments, I'm beginning to think it's not us. It must be the paint if we all have the same problem! As always, I love what you made. It looks fantastic. Thanks for sharing again!
    Dianne @ Hopelessly Devoted to Teaching
    PS… Do you know how to leave a blog signature from an iPad? I've tried the HTML code but it never works….

  • Dee Bibb July 26, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    I feel your angst at spray painting. I really try to stay away from a spray paint can as I tend to make a HUGE mess. That is one of the reasons I haven't done this tool box yet…at least that is what I keep telling myself!

    But I really love your labels……so maybe this weekend, I will make me one, too! Surely I can get someone with more spray paint expertise to take care of that little tidbit for me!

    Mrs. B's Nook

  • missme July 26, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    So I just bought a box (a few weeks ago) almost identical to this, and labels were on my to do list. THANK YOU for sharing…. this just saved me a ton of time!


  • Erin McCown July 26, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    Two of my best friends went together and made me one of these for my 22nd birthday. I absolutely adore it!!!

    Math with Ms. McCown

  • Holly July 27, 2012 at 12:09 am

    Would you be weirded out if I told you I love you?!?! HA!!! Every day I see a new one of these pop up and the whole process seemed way too much for this craft-challenged chicka. YOURS?!?!? Totally do-able. So do-able that I think I'm running out to Lowe's to pick it up right this very minute…no joke. Thanks so much for making it editable. xoxo

    Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade

    • Kristen July 27, 2012 at 1:36 pm

      Love you too Holly–it's not weird in the bloggy sense!!! 🙂

  • Wild About School! July 27, 2012 at 12:16 am

    I love this idea… I have one that I used to keep my alphabet tiles in… I haven't used it in a while and it has lived in the back of my closet. I think I might dust it off and try my hand at painting one. Has anyone tried that textured spray paint? I have used it on furniture and have had good luck with it but I am just not sure if it would work on plastic. Time for a trip to the local hardware store…
    Thanks for a great idea and a whole page full of chuckles!
    …and remember to stay 'Wild About School!'

  • Meghan Mayhew July 27, 2012 at 12:24 am

    Believe it or not, I just came across your amazing blog! I am now your newest follower. You have some really awesome posts!



  • Anonymous July 27, 2012 at 2:38 am

    I love your blog! Thank you so much for sharing so many great resources. I have been using a lot of your printables in my own classroom. Do you happen to have any signs for a focus wall? Thank you so much for all your hard work!


    • Kristen July 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      I don't currently, I'm sorry Lauren. Thanks for the nice message!

  • Chrissy July 27, 2012 at 3:03 am

    Is it ok that I laughed while reading this post?! You are a good sport! And, hey, I have not attempted this project (yet). While I still have a few days free, I think I'll head to Lowe's. Thanks for the printable!

    • Kristen July 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      Yes, don't worry Chrissy–I am laughing at myself about it now!

  • Traci July 27, 2012 at 4:04 am

    I REALLY like the way you did yours with just labeled "handles". If I only had a place for one of these tool boxes.
    ❤Dragonflies in First ❤

  • Kristin July 27, 2012 at 4:39 am

    I'm kind of laughing—because this is so me. 🙂
    I think it looks great. But I AM far away in California. 🙂

  • Jenn Bates July 27, 2012 at 5:47 am

    That is TOTALLY what would happen to me! I love that you told us because without the close-up pick we would never have known.
    Finally in First

  • Kellie July 27, 2012 at 10:54 am

    UGh.. this is so me. I get so excited about something and this happens. 🙂 Oh well.. Love the labels, many thanks for sharing with us. BTW… what font is that? I know I have it, but can't seem to figure out which one it is.
    Have a great weekend!

  • Anonymous July 27, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Would someone please explain to me how to type in this document? I downloaded it but I can't click in the label area. Obviously, I don't use ppt much! Thanks for any help you can provide!

    • Kristen July 27, 2012 at 1:33 pm

      Sure, you go to Insert, then select Text Box. You can type whatever you'd like for a label, change the font color, and just drag it over the black premade labels. I hope this helps!!

  • Anonymous July 27, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Where did you get the bins/boxes??? Thanks!

    • Kristen July 27, 2012 at 1:32 pm

      from Lowe's, there's a green link at the end of the post that shows the one 🙂

  • ~DeAnne~ July 27, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    I love it Kristen!!! I wish I would've seen this before the hassle I went through with mine! 😉

    First Grade and Fabulous

  • 1st Grade Rocks July 27, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    LOVE.IT. I wanted to do something with mine without all of the visual distractions of the color. This is PERFECT!! Thanks so very much!!

  • Toniell Ericksen July 28, 2012 at 12:37 am

    Where did you get your box from?

    • Kristen July 28, 2012 at 2:21 pm

      From Lowe's, there's a green link at the end of the post that shows the box.

    • Toniell Ericksen July 29, 2012 at 6:07 pm

      Thanks! It looks more expensive than it really is. It's great to think outside of the box instead of buying everything in teacher stores. It's too expensive.

  • Ms. Morgart July 28, 2012 at 4:53 am

    You are too funny and I can totally relate! I bought my toolbox but it is still sitting on my kitchen table because I have a fear of spray paint mixed with impatience! Thanks for the labels! These are a great option!
    Curls and a Smile

  • Unknown July 29, 2012 at 4:39 am

    Hi Kristen,

    Your blog looks awesome! I am currently a SAHM, but I would love to get back into teaching. My children are entering 5th grade, and I feel ready to get back into the education field. I would love to pin some of your ideas onto some of my Pinterest boards just in case I do become a teacher again. I also noticed that you actually answer questions that people ask on your blog. I think that's so sweet of you to do! I do not see a "share with Pinterest" button, so I want to get the "okay" with you to copy and paste. (I, of course, would give you all the credit for your ideas.
    Thanks so much,

    • Kristen July 29, 2012 at 1:23 pm

      Oh, I should probably put one of those up, huh? Thanks for the reminder Joy and for the wonderful message. I would be delighted if you pinned anything from my blog! Best of luck in the future!!

    • Unknown July 30, 2012 at 2:31 am

      Hi again! Thanks for your prompt reply Kristen! I actually stumbled upon your site because I saw a pin that someone had on a board that came from your site. I am glad that you don't mind if I make pins from some of your ideas. Thanks again for sharing such great ideas with others!


  • Unknown July 30, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Oh… it's me again! I'm sorry to bother you, but I just tried to pin your teacher toolbox idea and the wrong image appeared. I tried a few times, but eventually gave up on pinning it.

    • Kristen July 30, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      Ya, sometimes that happens to me when pinning, not sure why but I have to try a couple of times too. ??? 🙂

  • Janaye July 30, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    LOL, how funny!!!! Glad you got it figured out!! (And this is why my husband painted my toolbox, NOT me!) Love what did with the labels! The font is adorable, too.

    Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes

  • Krista Carlson July 31, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    I love your toolbox! I really like how your put the labels on the handles. It makes it easier to read them I think! Thanks for sharing!

    The Second Grade Superkids

  • Marne August 1, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    Hi Kristen – Could you please post instructions on how to type on the file you made with the black labels. And – I went to the sweetsshop website and purchased the font you mentioned, but I am not understanding how to access it now on my computer – can you give any words of advice?

    • Kristen August 1, 2012 at 10:18 pm

      Hi Marne! If you make a text box and type the font you'd like and change the color, you can then drag it over the graphic.

      For the font, I think the site has directions on how to install it. I know how to install it on a Mac, do you have one? 🙂

  • Michelle Ramey August 2, 2012 at 4:23 am

    I painted two of them (two different sizes) that I got yesterday with spray paint, along with two bookcases I had sitting around in our spare bedroom. I am glad I am not the only one who can't use spray paint the correct way. I was too impatient. Thanks for the free labels, I was just about to make some.

  • Lynette Higgins August 2, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    I have been wanting to do something like this for ages! I gave up my teacher desk 5 years ago, but am having trouble keeping all of my odds and ends organized. I am heading to Lowe's TODAY (have already checked to make sure this model is available in my store)! The only hitch is that I can't get the file to download. I don't know if it's me or my computer, but it's just not happening. Is there a chance you could email the powerpoint? lhiggins@mckinneyisd.net


  • Anonymous August 2, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Hi! I love your toolbox and had just started to make mine yesterday. I wasn't sure how I wanted to label them so I was so excited when I found yours!!! Thanks for sharing!!! One question … Did you just tape them on?

    • Kristen August 2, 2012 at 2:59 pm

      Thank you! I laminated them, then hot glued them on. 🙂

  • Jean August 2, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    This looks great, Kristen! I am thrilled to have found your site!!! Is there a way to change the label color? Instead of black, I would love to use a purple color to coordinate with my room. Please let me know if you have a minute. Thanks so very, very much!

    • Kristen August 3, 2012 at 2:21 am

      I'm sorry Jean, I only have it available in black right now!! Thank you for visiting my blog! 🙂

  • dinat102 August 7, 2012 at 12:37 am

    So nice of you to share this, but I also can't get them to download. Sorry to ask but can you also email me the file? ( dinat102@aol.com ) Thank you so much for taking the time to do it.

  • Mrs. Mac August 8, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I made a teacher toolbox this summer but didn't have the courage to try to spray paint. SO….it's still the gray lowe's color that it came with! I decorated it with all my cute clip art – but Kristen, how did you get the labels to stay STUCK??? Mine keep falling off, which is kind of disconcerting, ha ha! 🙂 Lisa

    • Kristen August 8, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      Hi Lisa!! I'm pretty over the spray painting myself, haha! I laminated the labels and then hot glued them on. 🙂

  • The Peterson Family August 9, 2012 at 7:38 am

    LOVE your tool box. I haven't done anything but fill mine up with stuff. I didn't paint mine – not due to lack of spray painting skills like what seems like a majority of the teaching world – but because I'm lazy…oh and school started last week! But I did want to make it all cutesy, but again with the laziness – so your labels are the perfect answer. My team already things I'm amazing because of all "my" ideas (that I get of the net from fabulous people like YOU) and now they are just going to think I'm even more brilliant and you don't even get any of the credit. I feel like I should mail you a batch of brownies or somthing:)

    Thanks for sharing all your fabulous ideas!

  • Clutter-Free Classroom August 14, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    These are gorgeous. I just bought the font because I want to make these for my house and they need to look exactly like yours…and they will because I'm the cruddiest spray painter ever. ZERO patience for the stuff. Thanks for sharing.
    : )Jodi

  • Erica Bohrer August 15, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    It looks beautiful, but you have scared me off spray painting. I am pinning this though, in-case I get brave and or bored. I don't have the patience for things like that. I want my file cabinets to match my decor and I am just going to buy new ones! I just picture a disaster if I try to paint them black.

  • Anonymous August 22, 2012 at 12:21 pm


    Very Cute! Could you tell me how (specifically) to change the font color and style. I only get "format" and that only changes the whole text box. I can't find anything else that says font style and color on PP. Thanks a million!

    • Kristen August 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm

      Thanks!! I'm going to try and do a video tutorial on this soon, you are not the first to ask. Thank you for visiting my blog 🙂

  • Anonymous August 23, 2012 at 1:13 am

    Where did you get you 'toolbox;?

    • Kristen August 23, 2012 at 1:08 pm

      From Lowes…the green link at the end of the post will take you to the box.

  • Elizabeth Tierney August 26, 2012 at 3:30 am

    Oh, sister, I can relate!! I found adorable plastic book boxes at Big Lots (the same ones as Erica Bohrer uses in her classroom) but they weren't really the right size for my bookshelves, and I did not want to buy new boxes to go with my new color scheme this year. So I decided to spray paint my existing boxes. I can be patient when I choose to be, but I am ALWAYS lazy, so I skipped the sanding step. On 15 boxes!! And now they are beginning to chip. Just tiny little chips but big enough for a second grader to start scratching away at. Also, just a heads up to anyone foolish enough to take on this project, when you spraypaint cheap baskets they warp. Fortunately, Big Lots still has the boxes I wanted in first place…

  • Jamie Lindelof November 4, 2012 at 3:20 am

    I can SO relate! I HATE spray paint, but sometimes its the only option! I painted some frames and put scrapbook paper in them (a cheaper version of those expensive square grouping of 9 pictures)and had done a good job on the first coat, but being impatient, I had to do the second coat before they were completely dry… Disaster! Drip marks, those "spiderwebs" as you called them… I was so mad at myself!! They turned out imperfect, but I still hung them up! They're like me — imperfect but still nice to have around!! 🙂 hehe!

  • Crystal Dezember June 6, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    So I am REALLY late in the game and just getting my toolbox together (to be used next year!)
    THANK YOU so much for the labels! I love the simplicity, and the fact that you can still see what is inside!!

  • Kristen June 16, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Just sent you an email JR! 🙂

  • Joy Obey June 21, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    I LOVE your blog, newest follower. Please follow me. Getting ready to start this project. Love the labels, Thanks!!!! Wish me luck


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