My router came in a plastic tool box called a systainer.

It is made in a way that the bottom could interlock with the top. this means I could stack multiple of these boxes and lock them together for transport. I thought that this is a way to convince me to buy more tools from the same manufacturer.

But recently I noticed that the tool boxes of a professional carpenter from festo look similar and I wondered if they would be compatible with mine. In a store I that visited today I saw that tool boxes from hitachi had a suspiciously similar shape and locking system.

Are all these boxes in fact the same box system that different manufacturers use? Is this some kind of open standard like screw heads, bit diameters, etc.? Are the systainers from different brands compatible with each other? What other "features" does a systainer have?

  • Not a clue, but I'm interested to learn more. Never heard of them.. – bowlturner May 19 '15 at 18:39
  • 2
    Walk into your local store with your empty router case, go to the return desk/office/nearest cashier so they know you're bringing it in, and ask if you can check compatibility against what they currently sell. You may get an employee escort, or they may just turn you lose, but either way, they'll most likely let you check it out in the hopes of making a sale. – FreeMan May 20 '15 at 2:11
up vote 5 down vote accepted

It depends.

The most notable feature of these storage systems is that you can stack one case on top of another and engage one or more latches to securely fasten it to the case below. The idea is that you can stack as many as you want, though stacking them in this manner quickly becomes impractical in terms of actually accessing your tools.

Systainer stack

(Source)

For the purposes of this discussion, I'm going to use the term compatible to refer to cases that were designed to latch together with strategically-placed latches, recesses, and tabs. When two or more cases are latched together, you can lift a stack of them with a single handle.

Systainer is the brand-name for interlocking tool cases manufactured by Tanos. Systainers included with Festool and Fein tools are compatible with each other, as well as with other Systainers manufactured by Tanos. The current line is called T-Loc, but these can still be stacked on top of the older Classic Systainers.

There are several competing lines of interlocking storage containers which are not compatible with Systainers. For example:

  • Bosch's L-Boxx line of tool cases is compatible with other L-Boxx cases manufactured by Sortimo, but not with Systainers.
  • DeWalt has two different lines of interlocking toolcases, Tough System and Tstak. Unfortunately, you cannot mix-and-match between the two lines.
  • Stanley also sells its own interlocking tool cases, but their line is not as consistent--for example, the smaller-size Stanley cases are not compatible with the larger sizes, even though they use similar interlocking systems.

If you aren't sure whether a case will be compatible with your existing case(s), you can usually tell just by looking at the product dimensions. With most of the systems, the footprint is the same for all the cases in a product line, and the cases only vary in height.

  • The is a lot of talk about this out there. Some of the other systems are "compatible" but compatible ranges from different things from they lock to they sit on each other. I would not go into this assuming that they are truly compatible. – Matt May 19 '15 at 19:18
  • 2
    I guess it's the festool stack that keeps the building from falling over and not the other way round. – null May 19 '15 at 20:34

Systainers are all made by, or licensed from Tanos. There are two main styles - the classic style and the TLoc. The TLocs can stack on top of the classics, but not vice-verse. Several vendors, most notably Festool, but also Metabo, Fein, Makita, Veritas, and Mirka either use or offer as an option Systainers for their tool storage.

You can also purchase empty systainers.

There are 4 different footprint sizes of systainer. Maxi are available only in the classic style.

  • Mini (10.43" wide x 6.73"deep x 2.80" high)
  • Normal (15.59"wide x 11.65" deep) and 4.13" - 16.53" high
  • Midi (19.52" wide x 11.65" deep) and 6.2" - 8.26" high
  • Maxi (23.46" wide x 15.59" deep) and 6.2" - 8.26" high

Normal, Midi, and Maxi systainers are available in different heights.

  • Sys I - 4.13"
  • Sys II - 6.20"
  • Sys III - 8.26"
  • Sys IV - 12.40"
  • Sys V - 16.53"

Systainer TLoc Sizes

You can quickly determine the size of a systainer by looking at the horizontal ridges below the label area. If there are none, it is a SYS 1, 1, a SYS 2, and so on, up to 4 for a SYS 5.

Drawer systainers are also available with several different drawer configurations. They stack anywhere a classic systainer will.

Drawer Systainers

See Lee Valley for other systainer options, including carts and toolboxes.

I first bought a tool in a storage box from Bosch, it says Systainer on the lid and I found that it would stack and lock onto Makita Makpac boxes even though the Makita lid edges were slightly rounded off on one side. Unfortunately Bosch have in recent years gone to a different design called the "L box" which is no longer compatible with Makpac. This is a shame as I now have one oddball case for a Bosch Professional 12v tool that does not stack tidily with all the rest.

Your Answer

 

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.