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Old 08-28-2011, 01:29 PM   #1
kngelv
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Default Harbor Freight U.S. General Tool Boxes. 56" vs. 42"

Does anyone have both of these boxes? I was all set to buy two of the 42" boxes with the $349.00 coupon but then I looked at the 56" right next to it. My initial plan was to use the two 42" boxes as bases for a workbench similar to a Lista setup. The 56" is so nice and has deeper drawers so now I'm on the fence. There is an Inside Track Club coupon good through wednesday that knocks the 56" to $699.00. So it would be one 56" vs two 42" for the same price. Cubic inch wise the two boxes come out slightly ahead, 56k vs. 52k for the single 56". Any thoughts or comparisons from those who have both. Thanks.

James
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Old 08-28-2011, 01:53 PM   #2
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Default Re: Harbor Freight U.S. General Tool Boxes. 56" vs. 42"

IMO both are great values for the money. I would think the deciding factor would be which set up would work best for your plans and your available space. I have the 42" and it's been great for me and the price makes me smile. I'm can say from experience that I'm pretty sure you would be happy with the 42" box, especially in a home-shop environment. I've only handled the bigger box in the store and it also seems like an excellent value to me. From my brief experience it seems to me that the 42" box felt the tiniest bit more solid than the bigger box but that's not based on any real world time spent with the big box. I would be happy with either.
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Old 08-28-2011, 03:16 PM   #3
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Default Re: Harbor Freight U.S. General Tool Boxes. 56" vs. 42"

I don't have both but have compared them side by side many times. In my opinion, the 42" box feels stronger and better built. Maybe it's just me, but the 56" box looks and feels cheap. If I were you, I would buy two 42" boxes.
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Old 08-28-2011, 03:38 PM   #4
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Default Re: Harbor Freight U.S. General Tool Boxes. 56" vs. 42"

I originally posted this in the 'HOT DEALS' thread, but I think it bears repeating here.

I have been wrestling with this comparison myself and researching this information, and I've found out that - while the Total Load Capacity quoted by HF is 1900 or so lbs for the 56" and 2900 or so lbs. for the 44" - it's not an apples-to-apples comparison. IN FACT, IT'S DOWNRIGHT MISLEADING!

I compared the boxes in the store, and it just didn't seem those numbers could be right. Well, it turns out that the 2900 lb rating for the 13 drawer box includes an allowance for 1473 pounds on the top of the cabinet (likely due to the availability of a matching top chest) while the 56" cabinet has no weight allowance listed for the top at all. This makes an "at-a-glance" comparison impossible.

I decided that the only fair comparison is to add up the weight capacity of each drawer...which I did. (If you'd like to research this on your own, simply download the manuals for each cabinet. All of the drawer weight info is in there. Also, I have used their alphabetical drawer designation, so if you want to know which drawer is which, well - download the manual.:-)

So, without further ado, here is the accurate comparison:

44" 13 Drawer Cabinet
Drawer Qty Lbs Total
Drawer A 5 88 440
Drawer B 1 110 110
Drawer C 5 88 440
Drawer D 1 110 110
Drawer E 1 121 121
Total weight for all drawers - 1221 pounds

56" 11 Drawer Cabinet
Drawer Qty Lbs Total
Drawer A 1 220 220
Drawer B 2 154 308
Drawer C 1 154 154
Drawer D 1 220 220
Drawer E 1 220 220
Drawer F 1 154 154
Drawer G 2 154 308
Drawer H 1 154 154
Drawer I 1 220 220
Total weight for all drawers - 1958 pounds

What this says is that not only is the 56" cabinet capable of holding more weight, if you compare the two box sizes (44" to 56") the 56" cabinet is proportionally MUCH stronger. So much for that myth...

Obviously, weight will likely not be the ONLY consideration for most potential purchasers. Cabinet width, number of drawers, available accessories, and type of finish all come to mind.

Let me further muddy the waters for you. Even though I'd love to have 2 of the 44" roller cabinets, the krinkle finish on the 44" box is a non-starter for me, as it's just too hard to keep clean in a working (read 'greasy') environment. And I have a lot of heartburn with spending $700 on one box. So, I'm gonna go look at the MasterForce boxes at Menards. They are well regarded, and have a smooth finish that is easy to clean greasy fingerprints off of.

Let us know what you decide.
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Last edited by MN4x4; 08-28-2011 at 03:41 PM.
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Old 08-28-2011, 05:34 PM   #5
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Default Re: Harbor Freight U.S. General Tool Boxes. 56" vs. 42"

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Originally Posted by MN4x4 View Post
I decided that the only fair comparison is to add up the weight capacity of each drawer.

44" Total weight for all drawers - 1221 pounds

56" Total weight for all drawers - 1958 pounds

What this says is that not only is the 56" cabinet capable of holding more weight, if you compare the two box sizes (44" to 56") the 56" cabinet is proportionally MUCH stronger. So much for that myth.
I like that you added up individual drawer weights to find honest capacities for each box. I do not agree with your conclusion about the 56" being much stronger. If you all you looked at is the width of the box then yes, it would appear that the 56" box is much stronger. However, once you calculate all the dimensions of the box things become more clear.

I removed 6" from the height of each box for the casters before calculating total cabinet volume and came up with the following numbers;

44" = 28148 cubic inches / 1221 pounds = 23 cubic inches per pound

56" = 44748 cubic inches / 1958 pounds = 23 cubic inches per pound

There is some very, very slight rounding off in these but both of these boxes end up being virtually identical in the weight to size ratio.

I have no idea what this really means but it would appear they have exceedingly similar build strength.
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Old 08-28-2011, 06:28 PM   #6
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Default Re: Harbor Freight U.S. General Tool Boxes. 56" vs. 42"

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Originally Posted by dlc View Post
I don't have both but have compared them side by side many times. In my opinion, the 42" box feels stronger and better built. Maybe it's just me, but the 56" box looks and feels cheap. If I were you, I would buy two 42" boxes.
It's not just you. I own the 42" and have examined the 56" several times, in person. The 42" is much more well made.
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Old 08-28-2011, 06:39 PM   #7
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Default Re: Harbor Freight U.S. General Tool Boxes. 56" vs. 42"

I am in the process of moving right now and wanted to upgrade my old craftsman boxes when I get my new shop set up. I had planned on doing the same thing as you with the double bottom boxes with no casters and some sort of top for a bench. I do like the bigger box, but for the same money as two bottom boxes, I can't justify it. Plus, I can end up adding a side box onto the bench if need be. I have ended up going back and forth on this, but as soon as I settle on the bigger box, I end up finding a similar sized snap on box on craigslist for almost new condition for not much more money. I still keep coming back to two of the smaller US general boxes.
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Old 08-28-2011, 07:18 PM   #8
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Default Re: Harbor Freight U.S. General Tool Boxes. 56" vs. 42"

I went up to Harbor Freight today took a bunch of measurements and did a thorough examination of both. I'm on my phone right now. As soon as I get home I'll put up the data.

James
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Old 08-28-2011, 10:00 PM   #9
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Default Re: Harbor Freight U.S. General Tool Boxes. 56" vs. 42"

As promised here is some data regarding the two boxes. Both use the same thickness of metal on the drawers. 3/64 which works out to about 18.5 gage steel. I used a micrometer for this. Regarding cubic inches the actual numbers are far off from both mine and balane's earlier estimates. I measured the actual interior space of all the drawers and came up with just under 16,000 for the 42" and just over 30,000 for the 56". The 42" loses some space because of the gap between the long top drawer and the drawers below. The 56" has no gaps other than the normal one between drawers. As far as strength there are a few differences. The 56" has two pieces of angle iron on the underside of the box running front to back and roughly 16" from each set of casters and each other.The 42" has no such supports. The 42" has one support on the underside of the top running the length of the box that is approximately 3-4 inches in width. The 56" has two of these. The slides are exactly the same in both boxes. The 56" has nicer locks and also has a sliding lever that prevents unlocked drawers from opening if the box is tilted. Some may like this feature but I might remove them if I get the box. The drawer handles have a better design on the 56" too. The 56" has nicer and larger wheels. For the money either one is a great deal. I'm still undecided. Side by side the 56" looks nicer. The krinkle finish of the 42" is a little dim and dull. I like the extra 4 inches of depth on the 56" and the thicker drawers are nice too. Of course if you are laying some thing like screwdrivers or pliers in the thicker drawers you are wasting a lot of space. My plan was to have a 30" gap between the 42"s for seating as I like to have my legs under the bench. This would give me drawers on either side. The bench would now have a length of at least 114" which I would bump out to a even 10'. To do this with the 56" I'd be looking at 142" which I'd make 12'. Of course to do that with the 56" doubles my cost. I'm going to be overanalyzing the next few days for sure.

James
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Old 08-28-2011, 10:37 PM   #10
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Default Re: Harbor Freight U.S. General Tool Boxes. 56" vs. 42"

i have/had the 2 43" boxes for a lil over a year, there great but i outgrew them and prefer larger drawers vs. more smaller ones. i had them with the wheels off and built as the bottom of a bench. i said had because i recently emptied the one and sold it here via the forum to a local memeber and will likely sell the other once i unload its cotents into the new 56" HF box i bought... sided by side i personally like the 56" better, i think slightly longer and deeper drawers are better. i also bought a 36wx20" deep kr555d Snap on box used that started this upgrade/rearranging etc.

having them side by side there both great values. my floor is not level in my garage and i had a drawer that slid open on my husky box get torn out by a car and pulled the box into the fender so my 'roller cabs' are all on wood bases i build and screw to my floor so i have a level area then i remove the wheels and set them flat and level left to right and about 1/8" higher in front then rear so my drawers dont open on there own... so far so good. where i was going with that is the bottom of the 56" box deff has more steel to it or so it appears, both boxes feel sturdy but the finish on the 56" is so much nicer. i hope i made the right decision. as far as the other 43" 'extra' hf box... i may end up keeping it for my woodshop as for the money it cant be beat and resale doesnt make much sense as i bought it at a cheaper price less a coupon and less the "new" inside track club membership discount. the first one i sold i got exactly what i paid a year ago and even thats a great bargin for a used hb box considering there now 349 and no coupon can be used. anyways good luck making the choice, had the 56" been available (or had i known) i would have bought that to begin with and skipped the 43" boxes originally.

hope i helped in some way and not added confussion
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Old 08-29-2011, 02:13 AM   #11
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Default Re: Harbor Freight U.S. General Tool Boxes. 56" vs. 42"

Would it be possible for some of you guys with the 56" boxes to post up some photos of them in your garages? Maybe with some drawers open too? There's seemingly unlimited photos of the 44" box but photos of functioning 56" cabinets are few and far between. I would love to see some.
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Old 08-29-2011, 10:13 AM   #12
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Default Re: Harbor Freight U.S. General Tool Boxes. 56" vs. 42"

I checked my Craftsman and Kennedy boxes and the Kennedy has the same gage of steel as the HF's while the Craftsman is a hair thinner. My Craftsman is roughly the same exact size as the 42" HF. All three boxes are 18" of cabinet depth but the Kennedy and Craftsman have an extra inch in drawer depth. 16.5 vs. 15.5.

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Old 08-29-2011, 10:23 AM   #13
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Default Re: Harbor Freight U.S. General Tool Boxes. 56" vs. 42"

The finish on the 56" matches the red 5-drawer service cart, while the smaller cabinet doesn't.

FWIW subjectively, I think the 42" feels sturdier, mostly because it's made of the same gauge steel, but is more compact.
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Old 08-30-2011, 08:37 AM   #14
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Default Re: Harbor Freight U.S. General Tool Boxes. 56" vs. 42"

I have one more day to make a decision. I've been scouring Craigslist to see if any great deals are to be had but nothing so far. I'm leaning heavily toward the 56".

James
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Old 08-30-2011, 10:27 AM   #15
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Default Re: Harbor Freight U.S. General Tool Boxes. 56" vs. 42"

Remember to rate the tool box drawers based on the slider's capacity, assuming the mounting and box holds up.

HF tool box seems to be rated at 100lbs per pair. I know this because I added some 100lbs sliders to my cheapo 11-drawers 53" husky box set(top and bottom) I got 200bucks from HD.
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Old 08-30-2011, 11:13 AM   #16
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Default Re: Harbor Freight U.S. General Tool Boxes. 56" vs. 42"

The inconsistencies may come from some having 43" boxes and some having 44". I know the one I had measured out to 42"

I liked mine. However needed a better drawer arrangment so got a used KRA. The 56" one is nice. But getting upwards in price you can start looking at used truck brands with out too much more.
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Old 08-30-2011, 01:28 PM   #17
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Default Re: Harbor Freight U.S. General Tool Boxes. 56" vs. 42"

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The inconsistencies may come from some having 43" boxes and some having 44". I know the one I had measured out to 42"

I liked mine. However needed a better drawer arrangment so got a used KRA. The 56" one is nice. But getting upwards in price you can start looking at used truck brands with out too much more.

I've been checking Craigslist every day and the truck brands of this size are at least two grand.

James
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Old 09-10-2011, 08:22 AM   #18
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Default Re: Harbor Freight U.S. General Tool Boxes. 56" vs. 42"

Well there has been a change of plans regarding the workbench. Found this Lista on CL and could not pass it up. $400.00 for the bench and vise plus another $40.00 for the grinder. I have a raincheck for two of the 56" HF boxes at $699.00 with the ITC coupon, that finally came in yesterday. I think I'll just get one and keep it as a roll cabinet.

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Old 09-10-2011, 08:42 AM   #19
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Default Re: Harbor Freight U.S. General Tool Boxes. 56" vs. 42"

Yeah, with this kind of thing....no matter how great the HF value on the boxes....better deals are easy to find if you are not hung up on new. I always get PO'd when I buy something I dont NEED that day...because I without fail I end up finding it used a few weeks later either cheaper or better quality.

That is the 800lb. ape in the room on these kind of discussions....people hem and haw, when a better deal is just a little effort away when they stary looking for a good used deal.

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Old 09-15-2011, 06:51 PM   #20
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Default Re: Harbor Freight U.S. General Tool Boxes. 56" vs. 42"

Any opinions on the 26" cabinet? the US General looks to be the same quality as the 42" and 56", where the "Storehouse" toolbox is below junk quality.
I need a new toolbox for the garage, but can't decide between the 3!
I'm leaning against the '56" as I think more shallow drawers will work better for tool organization.
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