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Old 04-09-2013, 07:04 PM   #1
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Default Tool Box Comparison

Recently I've bought a ton of tools (as in expanded from a basic socket set to several thousand dollars worth of hand tools), and of course needed a decent tool chest/roll away to store everything. I went to several different stores to inspect boxes, and thought I would give my opinions on the quality of these boxes for anyone else who is looking at picking up some (more?) tool chests on a budget (as we all can't buy snap-on or $500+ Tool Chests).

I'll start out with the lowest quality boxes. Craftsman. This is coming from someone with 90% craftsman tools here. They have several different types of boxes (with a variety of price ranges). The sub $500 (rough price) ones all have embarrassingly thin steel in both the drawers, and the frame of the box. The ones over $500 are better, but at that price, there are so many better options. The basic tool chests have a crappy plastic on metal slider that is junk. Slightly more expensive ones use cheap ball bearings that are still junk, but better. The $500+ ones have some very decent ball bearings, but there are much better quality chests overall out there.

Next is Lowe's/Home Depot's Kobalt and Husky boxes respectively. These seemed very similar in quality, and the action on these drawers were nice (better than even the best craftsman ones), but again, the steel was stupidly thin. Price was still a little high for what you were getting ($100-$400 or so)

After that came Performax from Menards. I was actually very please with this line of roll aways and chests. The ball bearings are great, even under load (rated to 75 pounds a drawer), and the steel was better than any of the previously mentioned boxes. For $60-$270, these are a great box for those who don't want to spend a bunch but still want to have a decent storage unit. They also frequently go on sale, and I got their 8 drawer roll away (normally $270) for $210 picked up and then the 6 Drawer top chest (normally $170) for $150. So for the same price as the HF 44 inch one below (before shipping), I got 3,000+ more Cubic inches of storage.

After that was Harbor Freight's RED US General units. Very Thick steel, great action, and durable. Even on sale, the cheapest unit is $400 or so, which might be a little much for those who want to slowly expand their tool storage. Shipping is roughly $100 for those who don't have a big enough vehicle to pick it up themselves, which killed this deal for me. Otherwise, this is a fantastic deal.

Next are the Gladiator Boxes (sold by Sears). These are a little spendy for a home mechanic or someone starting out in the tool world, but outrank the previous boxes in steel thickness and action of drawers when full. Looks great too!

And the best I would say are the Masterforce from Menards. Although these last three are all very close in quality, this one gets the edge for the sheer strength of it (one of the employess had me stand in the drawers-180 pounds) and then demonstrated on easily it opened and closed. Once again too pricey however for someone on a budget.

So, overall, I would say the choice is between Harbor Freight US General boxes and Performax boxes for those on a budget. The HF one is better quality, but you get less storage, and if you have to ship it, the price is killer even on sale ($500), and you are at Gladiator and Masterforce Price (which are easier to fit in a small SUV/Car) and better quality by a bit. The performax is decent in steel quality (much thicker than most at this price, but not as good as HF, Gladiator, MasterForce), and has a great sliding action, and even at full price is a great deal, nevertheless when it goes on sale.

Hope this helps make a few decisions easier.
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Old 04-09-2013, 08:28 PM   #2
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Default Re: Tool Box Comparison

I was just at HD and was looking at his: http://www.homedepot.com/p/t/2029068...8#.UWS_Z2t5mK0

I really like the layout, but a 50 lb. weight limit on a full width drawer in a 52" wide cart? Just a bit rediculous...

Wish we had a Menards in my part of he country...
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Old 04-09-2013, 08:34 PM   #3
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Default Re: Tool Box Comparison

Originally Posted by BK13 View Post
I was just at HD and was looking at his: http://www.homedepot.com/p/t/2029068...8#.UWS_Z2t5mK0

I really like the layout, but a 50 lb. weight limit on a full width drawer in a 52" wide cart? Just a bit rediculous...

Wish we had a Menards in my part of he country...
What is amazing is that they can achieve such strength to hold 50 lbs given that the box is apparently made of a Tin Foil / Roof flashing compound, aka "Modern Craftsman Tool Box Steel"
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Old 04-09-2013, 08:48 PM   #4
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Default Re: Tool Box Comparison

Not trying to hijack, but...BK, I had that same box. I got it on sale a couple years ago. It's a good, solid box for home use. I wouldn't pay 400 for it, but I got it at 3, and it worked nicely. I recently sold it, 'cause I'm trying to find the "right" box-which may take w while. I left my review on the HD website.
To the OP, I "played" with the HF 44", and it seems sturdy, but I didn't like the depth. I can't speak for Masterforce because we don't have any Menards in this part of the country.
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