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tool box quality

Discussion in 'Fine Living, Home, Design & Auto' started by Milpool, Mar 28, 2011.

  1. Milpool

    Milpool Senior member

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    I've overflowed my existing tool storage. By a lot. I've been shopping for another tool chest and I'm really shocked at how bad everything I've tried has been. I checked all the usual suspects at the big box stores, even tried a Snap On. Many of them seemed to be pretty much the same with only superficial details differentiating them. Are they all getting sourced from the same factory these days? Is that why they were all crooked and not square and level?

    I'm tempted to just buy one of the cheaper ones (craftsman probably) for the heavy, impossible to damage tools. Then, I could build a nice oak chest that would sit on top the bench for all of my delicate tools like electronic test equipment, precision measurement equipment, etc. Only problem is that building such a chest would take me approximately forever.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Decahedron

    Decahedron Well-Known Member

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    I got my ball bearing drawered Craftsman for quite a deal by checking slickdeals.net all the time.

    Ive had no issues with it at all. feels decent quality. i have worked with snap-on/matco/i think cornwell? Id save the bazillion dollars, and get a ball bearing drawered craftsman, replace it if it breaks, still pay a ton less than the "superior" brands.
     
  3. Nataku

    Nataku Senior member

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  4. HgaleK

    HgaleK Senior member

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    I've overflowed my existing tool storage. By a lot. I've been shopping for another tool chest and I'm really shocked at how bad everything I've tried has been. I checked all the usual suspects at the big box stores, even tried a Snap On. Many of them seemed to be pretty much the same with only superficial details differentiating them. Are they all getting sourced from the same factory these days? Is that why they were all crooked and not square and level?

    I'm tempted to just buy one of the cheaper ones (craftsman probably) for the heavy, impossible to damage tools. Then, I could build a nice oak chest that would sit on top the bench for all of my delicate tools like electronic test equipment, precision measurement equipment, etc. Only problem is that building such a chest would take me approximately forever.

    Thoughts?


    Craftsman make pretty freaking excellent tool boxes for the money. Even their molded plastic is well done.
     
  5. alexanduh

    alexanduh Senior member

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    mate you should just make your own.
     
  6. Milpool

    Milpool Senior member

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    Kennedy is really nice. That's what I use at work. Mine is going on 28 years old now and is still holding up well. The new ones the company buys look just like mine and the quality hasn't changed much in almost 30 years.

    This one is almost identical to mine.


    http://www.google.com/products/catal...d=0CDsQ8wIwAg#

    http://www.kennedymfg.com/Kennedy/Products/


    I've been looking for Kennedy boxes, trying to find one locally to look at and mess with. I just haven't found one and I'm leery of buying sight unseen.
     
  7. Milpool

    Milpool Senior member

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    Craftsman make pretty freaking excellent tool boxes for the money. Even their molded plastic is well done.

    That has been my experience with older Craftsman boxes, but when I went to find a new one, they had lots of problems.
     
  8. sugarbutch

    sugarbutch Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Lista. Superior to Snap-On, Mac, etc. for much less money. Each drawer holds 400 lbs, glides smoothly. I've had mine for ten years (five of those as a professional mechanic), and I guarantee it will be around for my boys to inherit when I die.

    http://www.listaintl.com/files/mobile.aspx
     
  9. HgaleK

    HgaleK Senior member

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    That has been my experience with older Craftsman boxes, but when I went to find a new one, they had lots of problems.

    Really? That's disappointing to hear. I have my dad's old one, and it's well made, built to tight tolerances, and a fucking tank.
     
  10. MrGoodBytes

    MrGoodBytes Senior member

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    Craftsman make pretty freaking excellent tool boxes for the money. Even their molded plastic is well done.

    toolbox and molded plastic do not belong together.

    OP, I was in the same conundrum you are... I bought a couple vintage tool boxes off of craigslist for a fraction of the price, and the metal they use to use is a good 4 times thicker.
     
  11. bmac11c

    bmac11c Senior member

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    toolbox and molded plastic do not belong together.

    OP, I was in the same conundrum you are... I bought a couple vintage tool boxes off of craigslist for a fraction of the price, and the metal they use to use is a good 4 times thicker.


    That's when American Steel was in full swing and we didn't purchase shit from China! [​IMG]

    Bmac
     
  12. Huntsman

    Huntsman Senior member

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    Milpool, most of the machinists/tool and diemakers I know use Kennedy boxes. Equipto makes, probably, the best cabinets out there but they cost a mint. I saw a MAC box that looked decent, once. For your precision tools, I'd highly, highly, highly recommend a Gerstner and Sons chest -- they've been making wooden chests for tool-and-diemakers for a century or so. My father has a walnut chest that I loved since I was a child, and one of my first goals when I got a job was to get one of my own, and I have a cherrywood Gerstner on my desk at work now: http://www.gerstnerusa.com/CARTgallery1.htm They also have a less-expensive internationally sourced line: http://www.gerstner-international.com/products.htm They're all truly beautiful -- mine gets compliments all the time. ~ H
     
  13. ms244

    ms244 Senior member

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    Lista. Superior to Snap-On, Mac, etc. for much less money. Each drawer holds 400 lbs, glides smoothly. I've had mine for ten years (five of those as a professional mechanic), and I guarantee it will be around for my boys to inherit when I die.

    http://www.listaintl.com/files/mobile.aspx



    This is what I would get. Vidmar is a similar competitor. They can build a box for you custom if you'd like. If you see what Formula 1 teams, aircraft companies etc have, they have stuff like that put in.


    Milpool, most of the machinists/tool and diemakers I know use Kennedy boxes. Equipto makes, probably, the best cabinets out there but they cost a mint. I saw a MAC box that looked decent, once.

    For your precision tools, I'd highly, highly, highly recommend a Gerstner and Sons chest -- they've been making wooden chests for tool-and-diemakers for a century or so. My father has a walnut chest that I loved since I was a child, and one of my first goals when I got a job was to get one of my own, and I have a cherrywood Gerstner on my desk at work now:

    http://www.gerstnerusa.com/CARTgallery1.htm

    They also have a less-expensive internationally sourced line:

    http://www.gerstner-international.com/products.htm

    They're all truly beautiful -- mine gets compliments all the time.

    ~ H


    The Gerstners I think are somewhat fragile? I have a leatherette covered one and I wouldn't dream of putting it in a real working shop. Its just too nice.

    I have a 1976 Vintage Matco Box I got at auction. Its not roller bearing but much nicer then anything I've seen new for normal prices.

    Proto and Kennedy make some (non-machinist) boxes in the $1500 range, I think they're pretty nice.
     
  14. Huntsman

    Huntsman Senior member

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    The Gerstners I think are somewhat fragile? I have a leatherette covered one and I wouldn't dream of putting it in a real working shop. Its just too nice.
    Fragile? Well, it's oiled wood, so it will scratch as easy as fine furniture, but I think they are sturdily built as opposed to fragile. By and large, they are too nice for heavy use, but I know at least two machinists with them -- one is a master patternmaker who has his Gerstner in his office, the other was a gunsmith-trained tool-and-die guy who had his on his bench in the shop. He is a very meticulous man. But anyway, Milpool asked about an oak chest, so I assumed....
    Then, I could build a nice oak chest that would sit on top the bench for all of my delicate tools like electronic test equipment, precision measurement equipment, etc. Only problem is that building such a chest would take me approximately forever.
    ~H
     
  15. ms244

    ms244 Senior member

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    Well, if you start putting ratchets, 1 1/2 wrenches, etc in the Gerstner I don't think it will handle it.

    I guess it depends on the kind of shop environment you work in.

    I'd still want a Snap On Epiq with all the drawers Foamed out.
     
  16. Huntsman

    Huntsman Senior member

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    Yeah, of course -- horses for courses. We are not on the same wavelength, today, I think, which is unusual. I wasn't suggesting a Gerstner for heavy stuff; Milpool was considering making an oak chest for his precision measuring tools and test gear in addition to the heavy chest for the ratchets and whatnot. That's what I mean as well; tool and diemakers and patternmakers and such have Gerstners for their precision instruments -- the mikes and calipers, dial indicators, etc.

    I have my ratchets in my Gerstner at work, but that is because I am not on the shop floor, don't use them everyday, and can afford to baby the chest -- not something I would recommend for anyone.

    ~ H
     
  17. Rambo

    Rambo Senior member

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    Not for you necessarily, but if you're looking for something on the cheaper end, I've been pretty impressed with the price/quality ration of the Kobalt tool boxes @ Lowes. Frankly, they're better than Craftsman at the same or lower price point.
     
  18. Milpool

    Milpool Senior member

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    Well, if you start putting ratchets, 1 1/2 wrenches, etc in the Gerstner I don't think it will handle it.

    I guess it depends on the kind of shop environment you work in.

    I'd still want a Snap On Epiq with all the drawers Foamed out.


    In my original post I mentioned my thoughts of making an oak chest (not sure where I'll find the time, but anyway) for my delicate instruments. Things like micrometers, oscilloscope probes, meters, etc. I'm very confident that a wooden chest (Gerstner or otherwise) is well up to the task of holding tools of that nature, and can probably do it more safely for the tools than an ordinary metal mechanics chest.

    Heavy tools like wrenches can go in just about any metal mechanics tool chest, but I would like it if it was actually square, had drawers mounted square and even, etc. I didn't find that on much of the new stuff I looked at.
     
  19. ms244

    ms244 Senior member

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    Look at a lista or vidmar box, they are probably the closest to what you'd want in a metal box.


    Yes, a Gerstner would be quite nice for the kinds of things you mention.
    Though I don't think its much safer then a metal chest. You can get foam and cut it out
    so everything fits in a nice little slot.
     
  20. Milpool

    Milpool Senior member

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    I'm probably sadly mistaken, but I think folks are less likely to slam or let slam a drawer on a wooden tool chest than on a metal tool chest. I think I probably have too much faith in society/humanity though.
     

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