Organizing Drill Bits and Allen Wrenches

Keeping the build room organized is nigh-impossible!! Drill bits and allen wrench sizes get mixed up on the daily… The various standard sizes (metric / imperial / fractions / letters / numbers) aren’t helping either!

I was thinking of using sharpies with different colors and patterns to label the bottom of drill bits and the sides of allen wrenches. Thoughts?

As far as wrenches/screwdrivers are concerned, we color-code. A strip of electrical tape on each is all it takes!

Only issue arises when a color of the physical wrench differs from our designated color system.


Our team color codes for the sizes we use the most that fit together. For example, if we use a size bolt often, the hex alan for that bolt, and the wrench that fits it’s corresponding nut, will have the same color on them. This allows us to quickly find what we need in a build season, and can help out rookies, by just telling them what color they need for something they can find it even if the build room is a little chaotic at times.


One way you can simply things is to go with the same sizes. I understand this isn’t possible for purchased products, but it’s hard to miss place everything when you only use 1/4-20 and 10-32s. Then getting a bunch of the same size makes it easy to quickly distinguish between the sizes


The biggest piece of advice I can give is to make the tools you need most often the most accessible. I highly recommend not mixing Metric and ANSI as much as you can avoid it.


There was a really handy chart from VEX that was given away in the kickoff kit for a couple years. I’ll attach a pdf but it lists all of the drill, tap, Allen and box wrench sizes needed for most FRC hardware. We then added color codes based on what 5 common bolt sizes it corresponds to.

Yellow : 1/2 inch
Red: 1/4 inch
Blue: 10
Green: 8
White: 6

Those 5 diameters for bolts are the most common we use and basing around those sizes is really helpful.

VEXpro-DrillTapChart-2018.pdf (367.1 KB)


Also you can use a paint marker to dab the heads of the bolts so you know what size it is right away


We’ve used colored heat shrink and paint markers for color coding Allen key sizes. There are some vendors of Allen keys that color code ‘from the factory’ too.


We’re about to implement a system where we use modeling paint to dab the ends of the drill bits, and then have color-coded pockets they slip into. You don’t need a unique color for each size – you only need a unique color for drill bits of a similar size. So, a #20 drill bit might get yellow, a 5/32 might get red, a 3/16 might get green, but then a 3/8 might get yellow again because it’s really hard to confuse a 3/8 with a #20.

Also, we’ve started buying individual drill bits instead of multi-size packs. There are some size in the multi-size packs that we just never use, but we go through a half-dozen #20 bits every season. (Also, it’s difficult to get stub-length bits in multi-packs, and that’s what we try to mostly use in the drill press to help reduce runout.)

Allen-wrenches: We don’t really use allen wrenches much. We have a set of T-handle hex wrenches from Harbor Freight and hex drivers from Bondhaus. Both have sizes on the handles. We’ve only ever needed allen wrenches to get into tight spaces. We have a 2mm and a 2.5mm bondhaus driver where the end is red, while the end on the imperial drivers is yellow.


4336 does the same. Colored Electrical tape. So much easier for students to find a blue allen and blue wrench, than it is to find a 4mm allen and an 8mm wrench.


We also color code our hex keys/T-handles. Mostly with electrical tape.
Blue for 3/16
Red for 5/32
Green for 1/8

When asking for tools its normally a “Blue T” or “Red 90”. Helps a lot with speed of repair especially when working in a 8X8 when walking to the toolbox isn’t possible.

For drills we started using the kiss drill index from FastCap
We got the drills with it and they are decent drill bits but you could color code your existing ones as well.


:eyes: @CEF I think this is what you’re looking for! Also @Austin_Plummer thank you for the link, really cool to see the organization idea visualized.


We color code our allen wrenches with nail polish. Holds up really well and we source them for free from team members that have old bottles that they no longer want or use.


Yeah. That’s where we got the idea – but that system only deals with fractional-size bits. But, we have a number of odd number and letter sizes.

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We spray paint the drill bits and Allen wrenches. Everything is corresponding so drill bits and taps get painted the same size as the wrench that drives that color. Don’t worry about masking things off, do a quick light coat.

Here is our color code and drill index sheet
FRC Drill Bit and Wrench Chart - Google Sheets.pdf (126.3 KB)

We store the drill bits in a re labeled huot drill bit drawer cabinet and the wrenches in bins as we like having lots of the right sizes.

I’m not mechanical but I know that on my team some wrenches and Allen keys have either red, yellow, or white electrical tape on them. I believe it’s for either metric, imperial, and something else.

My team is so used to that system that when an alumni got a job as a mechanic they asked their colleague for a red tape ratchet and their colleague looked at them with confusion

A few teams I’ve spoken to have “Lab tools” and “Comp tools” in two seperate tool boxes. Your lab tools can be vast and should contain at least one of every size of FRC parts you have in inventory. The comp tools should contain only the tools that match your current bot and maybe a couple loaner tools for your neighbors to borrow if they need to. The comp box doesn’t get used during the regular season but as you build your bot your build team will list out everything needed to do it. Then when it’s time to pack you throw everything from the build team’s list in the comp box or if you have the funds you buy doubles and keep the comp box always stocked and “locked”


For wrenches we do that, and still have to move them around at the end of every build to make sure they’re in the right spot.

For drills, we have indexes for most of them, and are obnoxious about making sure they go back into the index when one has finished with them.

Our Allen wrenches are a crime scene.

Training kids (and, often enough, adults) to put things back in precisely the right place is a never-ending battle as old as the first tools and the cave man who wanted them kept organized.


From stable-diffusion with the prompt “Caveman assembling a “FIRST Robotics Competition” robot with stone tools, In a cave”


why’s the caveman look like bob ross?