Excellent value - Nothing close at this price point.

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Review by TheBossQ posted 09-16-2011 06:17 PM 7823 views 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Excellent value - Nothing close at this price point. No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I’ve been wanting to separate my mechanical tools from my woodworking stuff. I purchased this roller cabinet recently at Harbor Freight after weeks of failed searching for a used Snap-On unit in my price range. It gets quite good reviews on Harbor Freight’s website and another independent forum.

Excellent price point – With $349.99 coupon, I was out the door under $400 with tax.
Heavy gauge steel sheet used in construction. – Weighs nearly 300lbs.
Durable powder coat finish.
Ball bearing slides – Bigger drawers have the slides doubled up.
Large, wide, smooth rolling casters with zerk fittings. Casters lock as well.
Came fully assembled (minus the handle).
All drawer liners included.
Upgradeable with matching add on boxes.

Has detents, but no drawer latches.
Drawers do not stay closed when moving the cabinet, unless locked.
Lock seems like low quality.
Two fixed casters. Only two casters swivel. Maneuvering can be difficult.

First, let me debunk any and all reviews that claim this is the same quality of a Snap-On (or the like) box. It is not. It’s not even close. Anyone that claims otherwise has never had their hands on a Snap-On box, or they have serious sensory issues.

That said, the box is surprisingly high quality. Pick a Craftsman box at twice the price, and it doesn’t compare to this unit’s build. I know, because I was all over the Sears store and had my hands on everything. Only the top line of Craftsman boxes were slightly nicer than this. Nicer, as in, built no better, but a few more features, such as drawer latches.

I tossed a scrap piece of plywood into the top drawer (to evenly distribute load) and placed 60lbs in weight plates into the drawer (which is rated for 120+ lbs). I gave it a hundred count of closing and opening the drawer. There were no creaks, moans or other objections from the box while the drawer is moving. Just the satisfying sounds of ball bearing slides. The drawer is smooth when empty. Downright plush when weighted.

Ubiqitous reports of the drawers failing to stay closed when the box is rolling are correct. I rolled it over an expansion joint in my garage and the weighted drawer came right open. Not a big deal to me, as locking the box solves that minor issue.

Unless you can justify the money for a Made in the USA Snap-On box (and I sure wish I could), this is far and away the best value there is.

View TheBossQ's profile


100 posts in 3538 days

18 comments so far

View cam1297's profile


64 posts in 4056 days

#1 posted 09-16-2011 06:45 PM

I have the same tool chest and I love it. I used it to replace a few smaller tool boxes. I have not had the problem with drawers coming open, but I also dont have a heavy load in all of the drawers either. I am going to get he side attachments as well when I need the extra storage. I think the drawers slide great, much better than the craftsman I had. Even better is the price. I got mine on sale and got to add the 20% off. I think for the quality and the value it is better than anything at a big box store. I have never used a snap-on so I can’t compare it there.

View TheBossQ's profile


100 posts in 3538 days

#2 posted 09-16-2011 07:21 PM

Unfortunately, HF has changed its 20% off coupon policy. The fine print now excludes Tool Cabinets and a host of other things. I’ll be adding the top box soon, but there are multiple sellers on C-List selling it used, so I’ll be going that route.

The Craftsman stuff in the same price range is complete garbage, new or used. I’m surprised at how bad it actually is, or that anyone would buy it. Take doubled up tin foil, bend it into shape and that’s about what you get.

View PurpLev's profile


8584 posts in 4494 days

#3 posted 09-16-2011 08:05 PM

Thanks for the review, having just gone through a shopping process I ended up opting to build one as everything of good quality was just too expensive (for me) and everything that was within budget seemed very low quality. This one seemed to have decent quality, but just too big for my current needs so I ended up building, but for future reference it’s nice to know this is a good option to consider.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4077 days

#4 posted 09-16-2011 08:13 PM

I have seen these in store, and they seem fairly well built. I can’t agree enough with you on the fact that these aren’t even in the same class as a Snap On, Mac, or Matco box. And to be blunt, I have a MUCH older Craftsman box (late 80s / early 90s) and this box isn’t even close to that… BUT when compared to the current crop of Craftsman boxes, and the junk that Stack On etc… sells this is far and away the better unit…

I wouldn’t hesitate to put one of these boxes in my personal garage for mechanical repair tools if I felt I needed a bigger box than the stack I have now (Craftsman lower, Proto upper), but if I went back in to spinning wrenches for a living, where I worked in a shop with other mechs… I wouldn’t even consider it. The locking / security mechanisms on this box are far too flimsy and simplistic. Aside from the locking though… Yeah, it’s decent enough. And hey, what would you pay for a Snap On box with this much room? I’ve paid less for an RV!

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View b2rtch's profile


4920 posts in 3893 days

#5 posted 09-16-2011 08:40 PM

I have the same box ( but black with gold trim) for several years, I love it.
I built a cabinet with shelve and my computer on the top of it.

-- Bert

View cam1297's profile


64 posts in 4056 days

#6 posted 09-16-2011 08:48 PM

That stinks about the 20% off cupon. I’ll have to wait and see now about the additional cabinets. I have always had good luck with my purchases at HF. However, I don’t buy my power tools there.

View Tedstor's profile


1691 posts in 3478 days

#7 posted 09-16-2011 10:39 PM

I paid close $2500 for my snap-on back when I was a car mechanic. I used it commercially for a couple years before leaving the industry in 2004. Its been in my garage ever since. Don’t get me wrong. Everything about the snap-on is first rate and I still use it all the time.
But if I could go back in time and do it over…..I would have bought that HF box and invested the extra $2,000… Lehman brothers or Enron.

Its amazing how many “barely used” Matco and Snap-on boxes I see on CL for .30/1.00. I’m surprised to see that Snap-on has actually raised their prices substantially since I bought my box. I’d have thought the HF products would have forced Snap-On to drastically lower their prices. Sort of like how generic “puffed-rice” cereal prevents Kellogs from charging $10 for Rice Krispies.

View TheBossQ's profile


100 posts in 3538 days

#8 posted 09-17-2011 12:48 AM

PurpLev – Beautiful cabinet work there!

DB – I agree. The older Craftsman boxes were nicer than this as well. Honestly, this should be considered an entry level roller cabinet, but the stuff out there makes it seem like a premium unit. It’s not, though.

b2rtch – I wanted to get it in black. But you have to order it, and it’s $599. That’s correct, $349 for red (with coupon) $599 for black. I chose red.

Tedstor – Here is the box I tried to convince myself that I needed:

It’s awesome. But I just couldn’t do it.

View Tedstor's profile


1691 posts in 3478 days

#9 posted 09-17-2011 02:56 AM

Since you mentioned the cheap lock and lack of latches…....... I guy I use to work with had his (non-bling-bling) box, fully loaded, in the back of a U-Haul. It was secured to one of the walls and was locked. However, when taking a particularly sharp turn, the weight in the top drawer shifted and caused the lock to fail. Every drawer opened, and a few drawers fell out of the cabinet completely. Lucky it was a u-haul and not a pick-up.
The (obvious) moral? If you ever move that box in a vehicle, wrap it up with a rope or ratcheting strap. Or leave it empty during transport.

Not to say its a bad box. Its not bad at all. But as you already mentioned, its not a snap-on. I just thought I’d bring up that anecdote as an experience for others to learn from.

View rustynails's profile


894 posts in 3374 days

#10 posted 09-17-2011 05:02 AM

I have the same box with the upper unit. They work great for the money and score high on the mechanic’s web sites as well. I would recamend it to anyone.

View TheBossQ's profile


100 posts in 3538 days

#11 posted 09-17-2011 05:21 AM

That’s good info, Tedstor. Thanks.

Rusty, I’ve already filled the roller cab and didn’t have room for everything. I’m going to need that top chest soon ;-)

View thiel's profile


410 posts in 4137 days

#12 posted 09-17-2011 06:10 AM

I just bought the 26 drawer unit from HF. NOTHING comes close to the price, and the quality is top notch. May well be there best deal of any item!

-- --Thiel

View Ken90712's profile


17902 posts in 4034 days

#13 posted 09-20-2011 04:57 PM

Your correct in saying it does not come close to Snap-on or Mac. But who needs to spend $500.000 on a tool box? Don’t get me wrong, it is sweet to have what I call a, ” I love you box for sure!” I have been in Aircraft Maintenance for 27 years and have more Snap-on and Mac tools than I would like to admit. Both at work and home there tools are amazing. I would buy this box as I have looked at it a few times. Good deal and good review! Enjoy your not tool box!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Bertha's profile


13588 posts in 3538 days

#14 posted 09-20-2011 05:47 PM

It’s hard not to mention Snap-on boxes when talking about metal cabinet quality. I haven’t seen any that come close at any price point. However, you pay for that quality and it’s difficult for a hobbiest like myself to justify. I’ve looked for years on CL for a Snap-on and I’ve never found one under $1000. Even at $1000, that’s a good price but when you consider you could buy two of these with some change left over, you have to ask whether you really NEED a Snap-on. Thanks for this great review.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Dusty56's profile


11859 posts in 4533 days

#15 posted 09-23-2011 06:30 PM

If I had the floor space , I’d buy this in a second !
I’ve checked it out numerous times in my local HF store and although it’s not a Snap-On , I’d still be proud to own it !!
Congratulations : ) Nice review.

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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