Updated: Oct 12, 2016
Tool Chest Reviews:
- What is a garage tool chest?
- Benefits of using a tool chest
- How much do tool cabinets cost? Which should I buy?
When it comes to storing tools in your garage, there are lots of options for tool chests and cabinets. Some have wheels that allow them to roll and be mobile, others have ball bearing slides on the drawers for convenience, and some are portable that you can take with you on a job like the Montezuma Portable Toolbox. Most tool chests include storage space near the top of the unit which is more like a cabinet and down below there are drawers that pull out with equipment like universal socket sets, terminal kits, tape measures, and small hand tools.
I used to have a few tool box sets with hammers, scissors, wrench sets, screwdrivers, level, pliers, etc. I wanted to be able to keep all my tools in one storage unit that was safe and sturdy enough. Now, instead of searching for a particular tool, I know that everything is stored in my Kobalt stainless steel tool cabinet that I bought at Lowes home improvement store.
The video below shows the basic features of tool chests and what to look for:
Tool Chest Buying Guide
When I was searching online at websites like Sears.com, Strictlytoolboxes.com, Deere.com, and Lowes.com I found many different styles of tool chests and pricing ranged from $170 up to $5000+ for the high end cabinets that you find in automotive shops. What all the tool storage cabinets offered was an organized structure with socket holders, trays for parts, wrench racks, and special tool holders. I was amazed how much room these tool storage units hold when they are fully loaded and some of the drawers were capable of holding up to 50 lbs of equipment or more.
Many came with casters at the bottom for easy movement around your garage floor or in a workshop. The different shapes to the tool chests allow for storage in almost any space. Some are narrow and tall, while others are shorter and wider (up to 56 inch wide). The drawers are smooth to operate and run on ball bearings and a few units have tool chests with handles on the side that can be lifted off the tool cart so you get multiple configurations when needed.
The luxury tool chests like the Kobalt 53 inch 16 drawer cabinet from Lowes offers up a 1.6 cu ft refrigerator and a satellite ready Pioneer AM/FM/CD player. I guess they don't want guys to have to leave their garage to even go inside anymore. The integrated power strip with 4 receptacles is another great feature (most offer this as well). Look for a storage unit that has a lockable chest or cabinet with a key so you know your tools are safe. I personally would even lock my cabinet to something solid in the garage so a thief can't just wheel the cabinet away. I've heard of some crooks stealing an entire tool chest with all the tools still inside of it. The drawers should have some kind of liner in them to help protect the tools and the storage unit from getting too banged up.
A cover is nice, but certainly not necessary since the tool chest will most likely be stored in a closed garage or automotive center. Sears.com carries perhaps the biggest selection we could find. Start on the website and then see if the items are sold in their stores if you want to get a closer look at the tool chest/cabinet before buying. Many of their units are made with black baked enamel shells while others have stainless steel designs.
The Kobalt units sold at Lowes have a stainless steel look and get pretty good reviews for durability and performance. We found a great review for the new Kobalt 53" tool cabinet on Digitaltrends.com. There are photos and a detailed write up on this incredible storage unit. The price is almost $1500, but for tool enthusiasts who need plenty of storage in their garage the Kobalt is a good deal when you compare it to similar Craftsman models or even those offered by John Deere.
Strictlytoolboxes.com has more industrial looking products like their 56" Extreme professional roller cabinet tool chest combo set which sells for $1585. The equipment they sell appears to be more heavy duty and worthy of being in a repair shop more than a home garage. Sears.com has owner reviews on their website so you can read up on what consumer comments are for particular items. Lowes also has some owner opinions on their tool chests and it's good to hear the pros and cons on each cabinet before you commit $100's to it.
If you aren't worried about having a fancy, expensive tool chest, we suggest browsing the selection of best-selling tool chests online here. They carry plenty of chests in all shapes and sizes that range from $75 to $600. When it comes right down to it, you want a solid metal chest with drawers to hold your tools, and for many of us the brand name is not that critical.
Best Tool Chest:
Kobalt 53" 16-Drawer Stainless Steel Tool Cabinet ($1498) is one sold at Lowes home improvement stores. This is the grand daddy of them all and it covers everything a guy would want in a tool chest. You get a small refrigerator, heavy duty casters with shocks, an integrated 4 outlet power supply, 16 drawers, and a stereo. It measures almost 70 inches high, 53 inches wide, and 23" deep. Reviews note that the Kobalt is "versatile" and "sturdy" but others say the price is a bit steep for their tastes.
We say the price is not that bad when you compare it to a SnapOn storage chest that costs closer to $2500. Craftsman can be competitive on price, but owners of the Kobalt love the stainless steel look that is hard to get from the red and blue Craftsman tool cabinets. You can check out the Kobalt in Lowes or at the Kobalt website located KobaltTools.com.
The Kobalt 11-Drawer Ball-Bearing Rolling Tool Cabinet is another top seller ($598) worth considering. Check out the TB-220 A+B Blue Roller Metal Tool Chest - at $125 it's a good value. Made with heavy duty gauge steel and features chemical and scratch resistant powder coat paint. Plus you get a security lock system. Great for garage, RV, house, or your shop.
To check out more garage tool chests and cabinets - click the image below to go to video.
Top Rated Tool Cabinet:
Ok, so we know that not everyone is going to spend $1000 on a quality tool chest, but expect to fork over at least $500 for a good sized unit that should keep all your tools safe and organized. The John Deere 26-in., 8-Drawer Stainless Steel Tool Cabinet ($659) is perfect size for the average DIY homeowner that needs to store his tools somewhere. The 8 drawer unit has 2 cabinets that are lockable and the easy-grip stainless steel handles let you move the unit around. There are 2 swivel locking casters and 2 that don't swivel.
The 304 stainless steel finish is beautiful and the drawers have non skid mats to keep your tools from moving around. The drawers are easy to open and shut and one feature that owners appreciate is the safety function where the drawers stay shut when the unit is being rolled around.
Need something a touch larger, then consider the Craftsman 9-65352 Chest Top Single 12 Drawer 26-Inch Red ($550) that comes with a lifetime warranty. The drawers feature a locking mechanism and with plenty of storage space. Craftsman has always been a solid name brand sold at Sears and you can buy it online at Amazon.com as well.
Rolling Tool Cabinet:
We couldn't leave Craftsman out of the reviews as they have been selling tool chests at Sears for years and most customers are perfectly happy with their products. Some homeowners only need a small cabinet for tool storage and something that rolls is preferable. The Craftsman 9-65201 Red/Charcoal 5 Drawer Roll Away Cabinet ($450) features a nice red finish with charcoal accents. The drawers are fully extendable with ball-bearing slides and there is a 750 lb load capacity on the 26 inch storage chest.
It weighs a little less than 100 pounds and has a height of roughly 41 inches and a width of 26 1/2 inches. This rollaway tool cabinet is convenient and light enough to roll aroud your garage or lift into the back of your pickup truck or SUV and take it with you. There is some assembly required on the unit. The Kobalt 4-Drawer Ball-Bearing Rolling Tool Cabinet ($249) is on Lowes.com but reviews say this unit doesn't function as well as their larger 53" storage chest we listed above.
RECOMMENDED - Consider the more expensive HOMAK BK04011410 41-Inch SE Series 11-Drawer Roller Cabinet - Black with EVA drawer liners, 5" x 2" casters, tubular locking mechanism, and ball bearing glides. Goes great in any garage.
Small Tool Storage in Garage - Drawers/Shelves:
The Kobalt 9-Drawer Ball-Bearing Tool Chest ($398) is slightly smaller than the bigger units described above and this Kobalt gets solid marks from owners. The lid is easy to raise or lower with gas lift shocks and the drawers are smooth to open or close. The non-slip drawer liners keep tools in place and the top drawer has a locking mechanism. The Craftsman 10 Drawer, 26" Combo Set is similar and comes in black instead of the stainless steel finish on the Kobalt. The Craftsman 10 drawer tool chest and rollaway cabinet is the perfect combination at the right price. Look for it on their websites at Sears.com or in your local Sears store. See Garage Storage Solutions here.
More videos and resources are here on our Tool Chest Resource Page.
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