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Tool chests - an online review


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My cantilever toolbox is getting rather full and it's seen better days (don't use one as a spontaneous axle stand) so I'm looking for something better. I've wandered around Machine Mart, Halfords etc and spoken to the mechanics at work. I know I'd like ball-bearing runners to support the weight of tools etc but they all seem BL**DY expensive for what they are. I had a search of the forum with little result except for Gromit's review but this box seems a little too small for what I want:

DSC_2358.jpg

Should I be looking at BB runners, or will slides be OK for DIY use? Should I consider a plastic toolbox rather than metal? I could just get another cantilever and spend the difference on some decent kit to go in it. Stop me if I'm barking up the wrong tree.

Since I can't find a review of toolboxes and I've done the running around, I thought I'd write it up. Prices include VAT, obviously these are only my own thoughts and prices may vary, other listings magazines are available, see Ts & Cs.

Ideal box: Halfords Professional 7-drawer box, ball bearings, supports 350kg and makes coffee.

Halfords Professional 7 drawer toolchest, more like a top box though really. Pic won't link easily

Unfortunately, they want £149 off me for it, so no.

Quality compromise: Halfords do this cabinet for the same money as above, trading 'friction slides' for considerably extra space inside. Won't be as good and will irritate me in time, but considerable extra points for workshop bling.

Halfords 7 drawer toolbox with castors... picture won't linky

£149

Similar offering from Clarke at Machine Mart, loadsa space but friction slides:

070111300.jpg

£158

Clarke 'Contractor' kit looks nicer, with ball bearings and a range of drawer depths for putting hammers etc in. I felt a little gypped that this picture says £140 next to it:

070110190.jpg

But that's just for the top unit with 9 drawers. Grr.

Hunting elsewhere on the internerd finds me these two units, ball bearings and all, for £130:

I can't make this picture work either

This last one looks like a ridiculous bargain compared to most of the above. Much as I'd like to kid myself that I'm in the garage every night, I'm only really a DIY user so Draper should be good enough. Should I snatch their Paypal arm off before the offer ends?

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John, there are plenty of comments on here about the halfords tool boxes, pretty much all of them positive!

I have a red hafords box and a black pro one. The BB slides are really nice, and worth the cash for heavy stuff (spanners, sockets etc) which I keep in the black one. The red one has lighter stuff in, and tbh it is still very good.

Do a search for halfords, and you should dig up some more info....

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I've got a whole hodge podge of naff tool boxes mostly nonbranded. I've got a cab and top box from Homak and its the absolute base version and it shows, it doesn't like being dragged accross the garage and the top box deforms when loaded, in comparison my dad as a very expensive homak roll cab with bb sliders and came with draw lining and a handle and huge castors and is ndestructable and runs really well. I've used both the red and black halfords tool boxes, the red ones nt like being over loaded while the black ones will take anything you throw at it.

My limited knowledge says that you get what you pay for with roll cabs and top boxes and there are rarely good deals to be found. See if you can find someone with a halfords trade card and see what the price difference is, theres upto 50% discount on tools on trade so you might be surprised!

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I've got the Halfords Pro toolbox in your first pic. Very pleased with it and the drawers take plenty of weight.

I replaced an old knackered cantilever box with that and a strong plastic tool box for the bigger tools.

Cheers,

John.

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Gotta be BB runners everytime the difference is astounding!

I have the clarke ones HD plus or similer and am extremly happy with them have stood up to plenty of abuse and are going strong.

Some MM shops have a seconds section where you can pick up scratched ones etc usualy at a reduced price and dont forget VAT free night B)

Will.

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Should I be looking at BB runners, or will slides be OK for DIY use? Should I consider a plastic toolbox rather than metal? I could just get another cantilever and spend the difference on some decent kit to go in it. Stop me if I'm barking up the wrong tree.

In the workshop at home we have one of the chepest machine mart top boxes in fairly regulary use, the bottom draw has a lot of big spanners weighing it down, when it rains heavily it gets wet (barn gutter too small) and after several year use its still good working order. Its not got the quality of more expensive tool boxes, but for the money and intermittent use I wouldn't justify spending more unless your going to get the use out of it. I've used draws with roller as well basic sliders and although nice the sliders still do exactly the same basic job. We bought a second machine mart top box based on the experiance of the first to help ease the tool congestion.

When it comes to tools for off roading though I find a canterleave is a much more efficent storage method. Slide out draws are all very nice, but the ammount of times I've needed tools off road, I would far sooner have the space for other stuff than the convience of draws. On the point the canterleve has another advantage over the draws becuse I can reach down and get at most of the tools in it without having to clear space to one side for the draws to open.

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I've got a top and bottom boxes from Machine Mart - both Clarke HD Plus ones, they are superb, they have HD ball bearing slides and so are smooth and easy to use even when loaded with tools.

General build is great, no sharp corners, no rattles or loose bits, paint is tough and all round construction is excellent - they weigh a fair bit bit i managed to move both mine fully loaded onto a trailer on my own and im no he-man, thankfully the bottom ones have large casters and can even be moved on gravel.

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Why not try Kennedy roll cabs, you can get them from Cromwell's or im sure a quick Google and you'll possibly find a supplier closer to you.

They are seriously nice toolbox's and there not to expensive

They have all the usual bits and bobs like double wall construction, ball baring sliders ect.

And they sell spares which is a plus.

IMO they are much better than any of the Clark or Halfords stuff

BTW the offer price for the toolbox's in Cromwell's cataloger you can knock a 1/3 off it if you catch em when they have a load in stock

Tom

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I posted on here not long back asking about rollcabs.

I ended up going with a cheap friction rollcab, and it's been more than adequate. Obviously a BB one would have been better but I only get to play with the LR on odd weekends and it's been brill for keeping my tools organised. I just couldn't justify the extra cost for BB, I'm happy with the decision I made and would make the same again if I needed another

Hope that helps

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I too spent ages looking at this - I was looking at second hand snap ons on eblag, machine mart stuff but ended up with Teng - as Halfords were doing a clearance sale on them about 2 years ago - and I have to say whilst that was a major factor - the quality is superb and came with foam inserts, roller drawers, and drawer edge marker tapes so you could mark each drawer if your absent minded to forget where you put stuff.......

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I have an Halfords box like the first pic. Been pleased with it apart from that catches are now suffering a bit, it doesn't help that my box is well loaded and they take the weight when lifting it. The handle seems to be holding up well enough to the weight, although it would be better (and easier to lift) with two end handles like top box chests, it's at the upper end of the size limit for a top handled tool box IMHO, but maybe it's just the amoumt of tools I cram in it. The drawers are holding up well to the over loading though.

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Mark,

I have the black version of that tool box and having loaded it up with spanners and sockets I felt that the top handle wasn't really up to it, so I fitted one of these to each end:

3412-f1.jpg

They are only riveted on, but they are holding up very well, and don't show any signs of coming loose. It makes moving it so much easier!

Cheers

Mark

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Hi Guys,

This is my first post here. I am a mechanic by trade (Ford) and i have had everything from Draper, Clarkes and Mac Tools and i now have Snap-On. Although i have a lifetime garantee, Rollers BB's and all i would choose Snap-On every time purely because i use it every day. But! And this is a big But! If you find out from your local garage who your local Snap On man/woman is i can almost certainly say that they will have second hand tool boxes that have been traded in against new ones. These are still garanteed!!! And they are often a mere fraction of what the original 'new' price was. If that still does not work out then the Clarke ones from Machine Mart are also good for the money! :lol:

Hope this helps.

Kris

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Another vote here for a 2nd hand snap-on one. I picked up mine for about what a clarke or halfords one would have cost me new and its vastly superior. Mine does not have the BB runners and its not a problem. IMHO you only really need them if you are loading the drawers very heavily. The large drawer in the bottom of my rool cab is the onyl one thats physically big enough to really need BB's but its fine as it is. You should note that there is a big difference in quality and smoothness however with a snap-on non bb runner and a cheapo non bb runner.

I also find applying a little grease to the runners every now and again makes the world of difference!

Jon

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi

Got my big snap on top box off ebay for £40! bargains out there if your patient... also have a machine mart non bb cab and topbox and they are ok but drawers are very small and I have consequently run out of space... they have both survived many trips in the back of the 110, one downside is that the locking mechanism on the top box is useless!

Mike

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  • 2 weeks later...

I looked at plenty of toolboxes, I've been into every shop pulling drawers in and out and I've participated in more ebay auctions than I can remember. I concluded that ball bearing was worth the premium, and that all the manufacturers have reached the same conclusion and they arrange their prices accordingly. I also concluded that there's no such thing as a cheap, good toolbox. Snap-On felt to be the best, but it seems the market doubles the price for this small margin of quality and it's just not worth that for me.

There are some boxes on ebay which are scratched'n'dented factory returns but they tend to go close to (or even above!) RRP. Rather than wait to get lucky, I went to Machine Mart for their 5-drawer top box from their HD Plus chest range.

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Loaded up with tools the drawers are still smooth, although there are plastic corner protectors on the box which are insubstantial and one's already broken. If it peels open, it'll tickle shut again with the welder. Overall, quite happy. :D

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