Whether you’re just starting out buying basic tools or already have an extensive collection, a good tool chest is a must-have for every garage. No matter how careful you are with your tools or how organized you think you are, the plastic cases that tool sets come in won’t last forever, buying individual tools means you will not have a case at all, and even cases of tools need to be stored somewhere at some point.
To solve that problem, you should be looking at getting the best tool chest designed with the mechanic in mind. There are a lot of chests on the market with prices ranging from under $100 to easily over a few thousand for some models made by major tool manufacturers. Instead of thin, cheap tool chests or those high-dollar tool boxes, make your cash go further by taking a look at the two top ranked tool chests below.
Indicators of a quality top chest include such things as drawer linings to protect the chest from dings and scrapes, and ball bearing drawer slides that work smoothly and last longer than other types of drawer mechanisms. Drawer height can be an important factor, but most drawers in top chests are within a fraction of an inch of being the same size. Aside from that, make sure that the chest includes handles if you plan on moving it about, because a box full of tools can be too bulky to move without them.
The Excel TB2105X is a well-crafted tool chest. It has two drawer heights for easy storing of your equipment, 1-9/16 inches and 2-9/16 inches, along with the top rack which provides even more space. One of the things you might appreciate is the fact that the drawers have a liner already installed, so your tools will not scratch up the chest right away.
On the down side (or plus side depending on how you look at it), all 5 drawers fasten with a single lock, and the default is that the top must be open for the drawers to work. You can get around this easily by opening the top, opening the drawers, and then closing the top. The drawers will not fully close, but you will be able to access individual drawers as needed. On the other hand, the single lock makes it easier to secure your tools when the work is done and is preferred by most.
If a top tool chest is not enough for your mechanical tool storage, Excel also produces two add-on units that complete the offering. The first, the Excel TB2502X-Blue 26-Inch Steel Intermediate Chest, is a flat-topped tool chest that adds two deeper storage drawers. The other is the Excel TB2605X-Blue26-Inch Steel Roller Cabinet, with 5 drawers of increasing heights. The rolling chest is designed to hold the middle and top chests, forming a complete tool solution.
For portability, store the most commonly needed tools in the top chest, which has recessed side handles for lifting. If you do get the additional features, be prepared for a very slight difference in the color shade as the units may not be an exact match. The difference is not even noticeable by most, but it indicates that the intermediate and lower portions are manufactured at a different facility.
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The Homak 5-drawer top chest is another handy tool chest. The drawers are not quite as deep as on the Excel tool chest, but the overall dimensions are a little larger. The hinged top design provides enough room for you to store large tools in the top, even something as large as a cordless drill or rubber mallet.
Aside from the Homak offering a little extra storage space, the only real difference between the two tool chests is that one comes in blue and the other is black. This model does not have complementary components, but still has portability and enough room for all of your frequently needed tools.
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