Best Tool Chests and Cabinets for the Money (Quality Matters)

One of the most common mistakes made by DIYers is to try and keep their tools in the original packaging. This may seem a great way to store tool sets initially, but even the best plastic cases will break with time. Pegboard storage also has limited benefit, making it essential to have a sturdy storage container that you can keep organized.

Enter the humble tool chest. Unlike a classic cheap tool box, tool chests (and cabinets) have multiple drawers and usually have wheels so you can move your entire tool collection around the garage as needed. But there are plenty of tool chests out there, and many of them aren’t worth the investment.

Let’s sit back and look at some of the best tool chests currently on the market. These include features such as ball bearing drawer slides and non-slip linings. They’re also built to withstand a lot of abuse.

Our 8 Favorite Tool Chests and Cabinets

 ProductWidthDrawersStorageWeight
best tool cabinetHusky H52CH6TR9HD52-inch1537,421 cu. in.585 lbs.
Harbor Freight tool chest reviewUS General 6428144-inch1314,000 cu. in.291 lbs.
best tool chestHusky H46MWC9XD46-inch919,650 cu. in.239 lbs.
best large tool chestHusky HOTC5623BB2S56-inch2342,930 cu. in.624 lbs.
Milwaukee tool chest reviewMilwaukee 48-22-8510-852046-inch1627,223 cu. in.386 lbs.
yellow tool cabinetCat Tool Storage CAT3-5219CO52-inch1933,282 cu. in.495 lbs.
long stainless steel tool cabinetThor Kitchen HTC7215W72-inch15n/a326 lbs.
tool chest made in the USAKennedy Mfg. 52611B26-inch113,000 cu. in.69 lbs.

Tool Chest Reviews

#1 – Husky H52CH6TR9HD Industrial 52-inch Tool Chest and Cabinet Combo

Husky has a reputation for durability, and this heavy-duty storage combo doesn’t disappoint. The chest itself uses a high-grade, all-welded 18-gauge steel construction that’s protected by a tough industrial-textured black powder-coat paint. As this is a combo, the top chest can be removed for jobs on the go, and both units have an internal keyed locking system to keep your tools safe.

The cabinet itself has an ergonomic handle, six 5-by-2 inch castors, and a bottle opener on the side for those days when a cold drink is crucial. Nine drawers are mounted on full extension ball bearing slides for smooth movement and feature a soft-close retention system to quietly closes the drawers and ensures they’re secure. Each drawer can support up to 120 pounds and includes premium Husky drawer liners. Aluminum edge guards help protect against accidental bumps and add to the overall sleekness of the unit.

Nestled comfortably atop the cabinet is a tool chest with six more drawers that share the same features as the cabinet’s drawers. The reinforced top lid is supported with gas struts for easier opening and closing.

The back of this section includes a large magnetic plate for storing your favorite tools, while the side has a built-in power strip that has four grounded outlets and two USB ports for convenient charging even when the unit has been closed and locked.

You know you have a winner when the vast majority of owners describe a unit using the word “love”. And what’s not to love? The space, the accessories and extra features, and the improved warranty all make this the best tool cabinet and chest combo on the market. Best of all, it’s easy to assemble and will last for years, making the lower price range even more remarkable.

As sturdy as this combo is once it’s in your home, there have been a few reports complaining about damage during shipping. The abuse shipping companies have inflicted can range from scratches and scuffs all the way up to twisting part of the steel frame. Be careful when first receiving the product to check for any signs of mishandling so that you aren’t stuck with a damaged product.

If possible, order online to lock in the price and pick it up at your local Home Depot. Keep in mind that this cabinet is HEAVY so be prepared with lots of help for unloading.

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#2 – Harbor Freight US General Series 2 #64281 44-Inch Tool Cabinet

Harbor Freight has a hard-earned reputation for making some of the best tool storage units on the market. While you may want to avoid many cheaper products at Harbor Freight, US General chests and cabinets are top notch and consistently recommended in online forums for mechanics.

This particular model is a 44-inch industrial grade roller cabinet with 14,000 cubic inches of storage space. Made of all-welded 18-gauge steel with an industrial powder coat finish and four heavy-duty 5-inch casters (two of which have a locking swivel), this cabinet is a joy to own and use. It replaces the ultra popular Series 1 tool chests with the biggest difference being drawer depth increasing from 16″ to almost 19.5″.

Each of the 13 high capacity drawers have full extension ball bearing slides with double slides on the larger drawers. A double-bank configuration makes organizing easier, while secure detents, non-slip pre-cut drawer liners, and a barrel lock ensure your tools stay safe and secure.

This is one of those products which perform exactly as advertised. Not only is it sturdy, but owners report the drawers function flawlessly. When paired with a top chest, this unit is the perfect addition to any garage workspace. Two optional side cabinets for additional storage are also available. The new Series 2 is now also available in blue and black (in addition to red).

Nothing is perfect, and this tool chest does include a few minor issues that seem to arise rather infrequently. The locking mechanism has been known to seize, although this is pretty rare. In extreme cases, the barrel can simply be replaced.

The other complaint is regarding the drawer layout, which doesn’t have the biggest variety of sizes. This might require some fudging to get tools organized to your personal taste. But you won’t have any problems fitting our favorite socket organizer in the top drawer.

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#3 – Husky H46MWC9XD 46-Inch Mobile Workbench

Having a good workspace is just as important as good tool storage, which makes this gem a must for cramped workshops. Unlike most tool cabinets which are only 18 inches deep, the H46MWC9XD has an extra-deep 24.5 inch design for 36 percent more storage and work space. Four 5×2-inch castors and a large, ergonomic push handle make it the best tool storage cart for larger shops where tool mobility is essential.

The nine lockable drawers are 21.7 inches deep and shift smoothly on their 100-pound rated ball-bearing slides. The larger bottom drawers are perfect for power tools and can each hold up to 200 pounds. Premium pre-cut drawer liners ensure that your tools remain safe and stationary. In total, you’ll get 19,650 cubic inches of drawer storage.

As with most Husky tool cabinets, this workbench features a power strip beneath the push handle, allowing for up to four corded devices and two USB devices to be docked simultaneously and within easy range of the work surface.

The surface on top of this bench is made of solid wood and has a total workable area of 1,104 square inches. Best of all, you can be sure of the durability, thanks to Husky’s standard of all-welded steel construction and rust-resistant powder coat finish.

While it has more storage space than the US General chest above, the steel frame thickness on this Husky is a bit thinner (21 gauge vs 18 gauge). You also won’t get self-closing drawers as higher-end Husky chests have, but for the price, a better quality cabinet would be hard to find.

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#4 – Husky HOTC5623BB2S 56-Inch Tool Chest and Rolling Cabinet Set

One of the most impressive models on this list, the HOTC5623BB2S is a 23-drawer combo made of durable 18-gauge steel and has plenty of storage space. A magnetic, three mode, 360 Lumen LED work light uses a recessed folding hook and charges via USB. A built-in 8-outlet, 2 USB port power strip helps keep all of your tools fully charged. Both units also include a barrel lock for added security.

Each of the drawers are rated for up to 100 pounds and feature soft close drawer slides, with the larger drawers using double slides. You’ll get 42,930 cubic inches of storage space which is tops on our list.

As with all quality chests, this one comes with drawer liners to help keep tools safe. The cabinet has two rigid and four swivel 5×2 inch industrial-grade polypropylene casters for mobility (which is needed for this 600+ pound beast).

When you’re looking for a large, heavy-duty tool cabinet for current and future needs, it doesn’t get much better than this Husky set. The drawers are shallow and sturdy, making it perfect for storing collections of wrenches, sockets, and other essential mechanic’s tools. It’s sturdy enough to take a beating and owners love the extra outlets and light.

As with any large, heavy items, a few consumers have received damaged units in pristine boxes and pristine units in damaged boxes, so always check the contents as soon as possible for any potential issues.

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#5 – Milwaukee 48-22-8510-8520 46-Inch Tool Chest and Cabinet Combo

Built out of 20-gauge all-welded steel with a powder-coat paint finish, this combo set has plenty of durability.  The 16 drawers come in three sizes and use soft-close ball bearing slides rated to hold up to 100 pounds each. A special computer drawer means you can safely store your laptop while working, while the gas strut-accompanied top lid opens to reveal a pegboard and plenty of working surface.

The cabinet has a combination of fixed and swivel polypropylene casters, as well as three tubular handles for increased mobility. A 3-barrel locking system rounds out the security on this combo. In addition, the handles fold flush and don’t count against the width of the cabinet as is common with many competing units.

This rolling tool box combo is perfect for both home and commercial workshops. Owners report that this set has lived up to their expectations and, on occasion, even surpassed it. Some of the drawers are best suited for the small height of mechanic’s tools or screwdrivers, but there’s no shortage of overall space (27,223 cubic inches total).

There have been several shipping issues with this product. In some cases, the two units have shipped from different warehouses and were incomplete. For other buyers, the product was damaged in shipping. When possible, try to pick up the product or inspect as soon as it’s delivered.

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#6 – Cat Tool Storage CAT3-5219CO 52-Inch Tool Chest and Cabinet Combo

Few companies understand the pressures of a work environment like Cat. This is because their famous Caterpillar vehicles encounter some of the most hostile work environments known to man.

This 19 drawer combo is designed and built to be usable in almost any environment, from garage shops to industrial workplaces. Four 6×2 inch soft tread casters provide mobility without harming finished floors, and large toe brakes help keep the unit in place as needed. In total, you get over 33,000 cubic inches of tool storage space.

Each of the drawers have 100 pound ball bearing slides with the top drawer having double slides to hold up to 150 pounds. All drawers have pre-cut linings and a posi-latch system that makes it easy to open drawers intentionally, but prevents opening accidentally. For added security, the locks use a tubular-shaped design.

A power strip provides six outlets and two USB ports, but unlike other brands, the magnetic power strip can be moved and attached to most metal surfaces and has a six foot cord length for added reach. The lid uses gas struts for safety and has a full-width lid stiffener to provide extra stability.

Owners of this combo love the magnetic power strip and incredible storage capacity. Assembly is a snap, requiring only the installation of casters and handle. However, be warned that the locks might take a little getting used to, due to their unusual shape.

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#7 – Thor Kitchen HTC7215W 72-Inch Tool Chest with Work Station

You and your significant other might end up fighting over this offering from Thor Kitchen. The 430-grade stainless steel design features an anti-fingerprint finish that’s sure to draw attention, whether used in the workshop, kitchen, or garage.

Four 4×6 inch swivel castors and stainless steel handles make it easy to shift the unit around. 100-pound ball bearing slides keep the drawers moving smoothly, and the entire unit is easy to clean when a spill occurs.

Those who have purchased this unit describe it as a heavy-duty work of art. The rubber drawer liners keep tools and utensils from sliding around, and function smoothly when fully loaded. It’s visually stunning without sacrificing function.

This model is often sold through third party companies and, as such, several issues regarding customer service and shipping have been reported. Use caution when buying from third parties and always try for a certified dealer when not buying direct.

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#8 – Kennedy Manufacturing 52611B 26-Inch Machinist’s Chest

There’s always an exception to the rule, and this 11 drawer machinist’s chest is an exception worth making. Designed for owners of precision tools, each 22-gauge industrial grade metal drawer is lined with felt and uses 60 pound-rated friction drawer slides.

Six adjustable drawer dividers make it even easier to keep your tools organized. A drop panel conceals the drawer space and can be stored in the bottom while the chest is in use. Both the drop panel and upper till are secured by a tubular lock.

While Kennedy Manufacturing might not be the go-to for storing your power drills, they’re a widely respected name for precision tool storage and their tool chests are made in the USA. Owning a Kennedy chest has been a rite of passage for many machinists, and the 52611B makes for a great gift. The smaller size also means this chest will fit in places where full-sized ones won’t.

Some users may find the lack of ball bearing slides to be disappointing, but the smaller size and more specialized design means they’re not necessary. However, issues with shipping tend to be more pronounced due to the 22-gauge steel construction. Many individuals have had dented or otherwise damaged units delivered as a result of poor handling.

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FAQs

Buying a tool chest is a bit more complicated than a standard tool box. The sheer size means holding products to a higher standard. But what features are important, and which type of storage should you invest in?

What Should I Look for in a Tool Chest or Cabinet?

As much as you might think storage space is the most important feature of a good tool chest or cabinet, that should only be the starting point. The best tool storage units will allow you to organize your tools efficiently and last you for many years.

Look for heavy duty frame construction, preferably using 18-gauge steel although some thinner gauges may also work well. The drawers should use ball bearings for smooth movement and less risk of derailing. Good drawer liners are also essential, as these protect your tools from sliding around or getting too dirty.

Cost should never be a factor unless you’ve narrowed it down to two or three nearly identical choices. Remember that a good tool chest should outlast many of your best tools, so going for cheap means paying more down the road for a replacement. Finally, while mobility is a plus, take a moment to decide how important it is before passing up a quality stationary cabinet.

Chest, Cabinet, or Workbench: Finding the Best Fit

While all of the units we’ve covered are excellent, a specific type of tool storage might work better for your workspace. Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons for each:

Tool Cabinets

When you’re looking for top-notch storage, it doesn’t get much better than a tool cabinet. These heavy-duty units have plenty of storage space with room on top for extra work space or to nest a tool chest. Unfortunately, due to the size and weight, tool cabinets have very limited mobility (even with wheels) and function best in a stationary location.

Tool Chests

Some smaller tool chests can be taken on the road, making them an excellent choice when you want to keep your tools mobile. Some can even be placed on top of or beneath your workbench. They can also be placed directly on a cabinet to increase your overall storage. The downside is that a tool chest by itself has far less storage space than other options. Tool chests typically have smaller drawers than cabinets but there may be a higher quantity of them.

Mobile Workbench

These units are very similar to tool cabinets, but tend to be slightly lighter and easier to maneuver around the workspace. The top is a finished surface so you can pull up a stool and do all your work from there. Unfortunately, the addition of a workspace means you cannot nest tool chests, limiting the overall amount of storage available.

What are Some of the Best Tool Chest Brands?

There are a lot of companies out there that offer tool chests, but a few names stand out among the masses. The following brands of tool chests should always be at the top of your wishlist:

Craftsman

One of the best-known names in tools, Craftsman is just as good at providing quality storage for those tools. Contractors can benefit greatly from investing in a Craftsman tool chest they can keep in the shop or take on the go. While the quality isn’t what it used to be, they still have their place in some work areas. Available at Sears.

Husky

The default go-to for generations of professionals, Husky provides some of the most durable tool storage options you’ll ever find. When outfitting a commercial garage or industrial workspace, you can’t go wrong with a Husky product. Available at Home Depot.

Kobalt

Kobalt produces quality power tools, and their storage solutions are designed to take just as much abuse. Whether going for an innovative design or classic cabinet, Kobalt doesn’t disappoint. Available at Lowes.

Milwaukee

The greatest advantage Craftsman has ever had over Milwaukee is their extensive use of advertising. However, any seasoned handyman or contractor can verify the outstanding quality of Milwaukee products. Their tool storage units are no exception and can be found in commercial and industrial workshops the world over. Available at Home Depot.

Masterforce

Best known for their quality and durability, Masterforce tool chests are an excellent investment. Despite being less famous than many other brands, their products can hold their own in a side-by-side comparison with Husky and US General. Available at Menards.

Matco

When producing quality tools, many manufacturers forget that poor storage can result in damage to even the best of tools. Matco understands this dilemma and offers a wide range of tool storage options designed to help keep your tools safe and organized. Expensive but can last a lifetime. Available at Matco Tools.

Montezuma

This lesser-known company is very popular with those who’ve tried their products. Not only do they produce quality tool chests using common designs, but are most famous for their unique triangular tool box designs. Note that both Masterforce and Montezuma chests are distributed by Quality Craft. Available at Amazon.

Snap-on

What started out as a simple socket wrench company has evolved into a leading tool manufacturer. Snap-on’s tool chests are perfect for mechanics and show what 100 years of experience in the automotive industry can do. Definitely not cheap but many professionals swear by this brand. Available at Snap-on.

US General

Harbor Freight’s famous line has an excellent reputation with amateurs and professionals alike. The only thing that has kept US General from being a household name is the fact that shipping can be pricey if you’re not within range of a Harbor Freight store. Available at Harbor Freight.

Waterloo

While it’s true that tool companies know what’s needed to make a good tool chest, they don’t have quite the expertise of a company such as Waterloo. This company focuses on tool storage and, as a result, provides some of the best tool storage solutions in the world. Available at Amazon.

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2 thoughts on “Best Tool Chests and Cabinets for the Money (Quality Matters)

  1. Hard to beat the Harbor Freight’s US General top chests, bottom cabinets and carts as far as bang for the buck goes. Not quite as nice as the Homaks, not near Snap-On quality but, IMO, they are more than good enough for weekend wrenchers, better quality than the Waterloos and Craftsman I used professionally years ago. I know some who use them professionally and they have held up to daily use. I compared them to what Home Depot, Lowes and Costco was selling at the time I bought mine and the US Generals, bought with coupons easily found online, were the winners.

    IMO the money, saved can be used to fill them with decent tools. I’m definitely not a fan of most Harbor Freight tools but I like my HF tool boxes. And I would buy the same top chest, bottom cabinet and carts again. Research is free, mistakes can be costly.

  2. Thanks for the comment. I have to agree regarding the US General line. The only reason why I didn’t include them is because of location. Unless you have a store nearby, you’re looking at about $100-$150 for shipping alone (the tool chests are surprisingly good quality which means HEAVY). Also, their coupons always seem to exclude tool cabinets so for online use it’s a no-go but I’ve found most cashiers will have no problem taking them in-store.

    It’s been a while since I’ve been in a HF (there are none in my area) but I remember there being two lines of chests/cabinets. The cheaper line (much thinner metal) is typical Harbor Freight junk but the higher end line we’re both talking about is outstanding for the price. I still have my 44 inch cabinet from there and the drawers still glide like new. It’s pretty comparable to my Husky tool chest but was definitely cheaper.

    I have plans to update this article to include Harbor Freight as well as Home Depot and Lowes offerings.

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