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What Makes a High Quality Toolbox Chest

What Makes a High Quality Toolbox Chest

If you have many different tools and have been researching ways to keep them in an organised way, you probably have heard about boxes, holders, closets, etc. However, if you are serious about keeping your tools organised, you need a tool chest box with drawers.

The same goes if your current tools chest has exceeded its storage capacity. If a tool chest is overcrowded it loses its ability to properly keep the tools in an organised way. In that case you might consider purchasing an additional one, or even getting a new one with enough room for the tools you have now and the one you will buy in the future. This way, you can grow your collection.


A common option among professionals to keep their tools is a portable tool box chest. It is a cabinet toolbox on wheels, and it allows easy storage and access for the tools you have. This is particularly good for larger workshops, because it eliminates the need for a trolley to move the tools around. We will talk more about cabinets on wheel at the end of this article.



Tool box chests are usually made of metal, so it is robust enough to keep a large number of heavy tools. Good ones have different size drawers for a variety of tools. 


For personal use and DIY enthusiasts who keep a limited number of tools, a smaller tool box chest without wheels might be just enough. As you probably won’t need to move your tools around your workshop.


Regardless the size of the tool box chest, they are both made to last and with very similar features, apart from the obvious difference in the storage capacity. 


Even though the exterior appearance can be very appealing. The most important aspect of the chest is how it will keep your tools organised inside. That is why the number of drawers and the size of them are crucial. For example, if you use a large tool box chest with many large drawers, you will certainly have an abundance of storage room, but it will be difficult to classify the tools by drawer types, as they will look the same. In that example, you will end up having large and small tools being kept in the same drawers. At the end of the day, you will spend a long time trying to find the right tool for the job.


So, consider understanding your tools collection and your needs before buying the tool box chest. As they are bulky items, it is not desirable to keep one that is not right for you, it will take a lot of valuable space and it will not help you to organise your tools properly.


Before you start shopping for a the box chest consider the following questions:

  • What is the approximate total weight of the tools your new tool chest will need to hold?
  • How many oversized/bulky tools you need to store?
  • What is the floor surface you will be placing and moving your roller cabinet on?
  • How often will you move the roller cabinet?
  • What is the intended use of the top area of the roller cabinet? Drawing, working, holding additional tool storage?
  • Do you need any power outlets as part of the roller cabinet?
  • What are the chances of your tools being stolen at your workshop?

Cabinet Frame

This is the foundation of the tool box chest. It is the frame that supports all components. If the frame is poorly made, the cabinet will not last long enough and will break down way sooner than expected. If you have a box chest on wheels, those do not roll smoothly if the frame is not aligned properly. Besides, the product tends to collapse within time if you keep heavy tools in it. 


A good way to find out the quality of the frame is to check the total number of welds the box chest has. Good quality frames will have a large number of welds. The exact number will depend on the size of the frame, so it is not possible to be specified in this article. You can spot the weld by removing the drawers and checking inside the cabinet.


Now that you know what makes a toolbox chest robust and durable, let’s focus on the product functionality. Afterall, the main goal of having a toolbox chest is to be able to keep a large number of tools safely and allow an easy and convenient access to them.


You need to pay attention to the drawers, as they are the most expensive part in the overall cost of making a toolbox chest. Well built and easy to slide drawers make all the difference in the quality of the product. Usually, the more drawers the cabinet has the more expensive it is going to be.  


That being said, it is worth looking into the quality of the drawers to have a better idea of what you should be looking for when buying a toolbox chest.


Construction of the Drawers

Although drawers can come in many different sizes and even shapes, there are some characteristics that are signs of good quality.


Drawer edges. High quality drawer edges will be folded or rolled over to create a top edge with round shape. This works as a safety stop because you cannot accidentally remove the drawer by pulling all the way. Can you imagine how heavy a large steel drawer full of steel tools in it is? You definitely do not want it falling on your toes.


Besides the safety aspect of the round shape edge, it gives the drawer extra support and makes it run smoothly while it is being opened or closed, as the drawer slides through the slots on the sides with no obstructions. It is very handy, especially when you keep a large number of tools in the drawer.


The number and sizes of the drawers will determine how much room you have to store your tools. Always take it into consideration before buying a toolbox chest. Many shallow drawers are good to keep flat tools, such as pliers, wrenches, micrometers and other hand tools.


If you need to keep large tools, such as power tools, deep sockets and welding helmets, consider a cabinet with larger and deeper drawers. Rule of thumb is you should get a cabinet with as many drawers as you can afford. Extra bit of room never hurts anyone.


Good brands offer cabinets with different size drawers, so you can use just one toolbox chest to store your small and large tools. Just bear in mind how heavy your tools are, so always check the weight capacity of each drawer before buying the cabinet. It is not because the tool fits in the drawer that that drawer is the right one for the tool. Drawers holding overweight tools will be demormed within a short period of time, it will not open and close easily. A jammed drawer is a useless one.


Drawer Slides

They can be two different types: bearing or friction. The principle of both types is the same, as the name suggests, the friction type does not use bearing. Therefore the drawer opens and closes on kinetic friction. The drawer slides are usually made of steel, and steel to steel contact needs a greater force to move the drawer. It is also noisier and makes opening and closing the drawer harder.


That being said, there are positive points in using a friction type of drawer slides.

  • Friction slides is a simple mechanism, so it eliminates the need of extra components, it makes this type of slide very robust as it does not have weak points;
  • Friction slides are cheaper compared to bearing types. This type of slide is common in entry level toolbox chests;
  • They are made to last and very durable. In normal working conditions, they will not need to be replaced.
  • The slots require no maintenance apart  from an occasional lubrification every now and then.
  • They are very easy to be removed, it is almost impossible to have problems with misalignment. 


Bearing slides have the same principle, but as the name suggests, there is a bearing at each side of the drawer. It provides a very smooth opening and closing of the drawer, in a way that even large drawers holding heavy tools can be maneuvered easily with one finger. Bearing type slides are by far the most common type used in toolbox chests nowadays.

Bearing slides are preferred if you often open and close the drawers, as the frequent operation of the friction type will demand constant lubrication. Good brands will feature their products with heavy duty bearings; as cheap one will not last long and will require constant replacement. Even though bearings themselves are not an expensive item, you certainly do not want to spend your time fixing your toolbox chest instead of using the tools it is supposed to hold. 

Traditionally, the bearing mechanism tends to have misalignment problems and can get damaged if the drawer holds heavy weights. However, good quality brands of toolbox chest will feature high quality bearings, which means these problems are minimized. So you should not hold back from having one because of these reasons.


Casters and Locking Mechanism 

Last but not least, let’s have a look at the cabinet with wheels and locking mechanisms. They are two very important features, and if you need them you have to make sure you get the quality you need to suit your requirements.


Let’s start off with a cabinet of casters. First, we will look into the components that make a good quality caster.

Understanding your needs

Before making the decision of getting a toolbox chest with wheels, you should understand why you need one and what sort of working environment they will be used in. 

How often the cabinet will be moved

For cabinets that will not be moved often, hard wheels are preferred, as soft wheels that are not moved often will be deformed, forming a dent on the tyre. Given time the air will escape and the tyre will be flat.  

Floor Surface

It is important to know the type of surface conditions the cabinet will be moved on. Smooth floors benefit from soft wheels, as the caster will easily move across these types of floors with minimum force, no noise and will not leave marks on the surface.


Rough surfaces and dirty floors are typical examples of industrial floors. Under these conditions, hard wheels materials such as polyurethane or phenolic are preferred. As the casters can roll over obstructions and debris.



Weight Capacity

Caster should be rated by a specific weight capacity. The wheel size varies with the weight capacity. The heavier the weight the cabinet is rated the larger the load rating the wheels should be. Good quality brands will always take the cabinet weight capacity into consideration before specifying the casters.

It is worth mentioning that there is no one size fit all! Soft caster materials, like rubber, are quieter and run smoothly on the floor. However they are easily damaged in rough surfaces and harsh environments. Besides the maximum weight capacity will be lower compared to a hard caster material.

So when you are looking for a toolbox chest on wheels you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • How often will the cabinet be moved around?
  • What type of floor will the wheels have to move on?
  • Are you going to keep large and heavy tools?
  • What size of toolbox chest are you going to have? Even though most of sizes feature 4 wheels, larger cabinets will have 6 of them. If it is the case, soft wheels are recommended, so the cabinet can be moved around easily.


That being said, it is very easy to replace the casters, so if you need to replace the wheels on the toolbox chest to fit your requirements, you can buy aftermarket ones and replace them yourself.


Locking Mechanism

After reviewing all important features of a toolbox chest, the last one we are going to talk about is locking mechanism. Not because it is least important, if you have your cabinet in a warehouse that multiple people have access to, you definitely want to keep your tools safe. 

Locking mechanism is not only important to avoid the tools being stolen. You also want to control who has access to the tools. Only qualified and authorized people should be using them. A tool in the hands of an unqualified professional is a serious health and safety problem.

Keeping the drawers locked is also important when the cabinet is being moved around. It is an essential feature in the toolbox chest on wheels. Drawers holding heavy tools that are accidentally opened when the cabinet is being pushed by employees of a company are a hazardous issue. 

Good quality brands will supply the toolbox chest with a spare key. The last thing you want is to call a locksmith to visit your company to make a new key for your cabinet. Depending on the situation, the locksmith’s visit can cost more than the cabinet, besides there will be the down time of waiting for him (or her) to arrive, as you will not be able to open the drawers until a spare key is made.

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