About two weeks ago I was at a nearby Sears, browsing through their new product offerings and Father’s Day tool displays. I came across this Craftsman Limited Edition ball bearing storage combo, and spent a few minutes looking it over.
Side note – I really wish I could find one of the new Craftsman Contour powered storage units to try out, but they don’t seem to available anywhere yet. They were expected to be released in Q2 2012, but that target seems to have come and gone.
Before I discuss this particular storage combo, I should mention that I’m ordinarily a fan of Craftsman’s tool storage products. I gave away or sold all of my ball bearing chests and cabinets this past year, not because I didn’t like them, but because I was moving and didn’t have space for them. I previously owned a 6-drawer 12″ chest, 2x 12″ intermediates, 1x 5-drawer 16″ chest, 2x 16″ intermediates, and 1x 6-drawer GripLatch chest.
The Craftsman ball bearing units I owned weren’t perfect, but aside from the deep intermediates and GripLatch chest stacking a bit crookedly, nothing was wrong.
What Makes This Combo a “Limited Edition?”
*Shrug,* I have no idea, so I referred to the ad copy. Looking closer, it’s the unique color combination and badges. Looking at the product description online, a unique color combination and drawer liners take this tool storage combo to another level. Available while quantities last!”
Self-Closing Ball Bearing Slides
The chest and cabinet feature self-closing ball bearing drawer slides. Great! I’ve got self-closing slides on my wood tool cabinet and new IKEA cabinets, and really like them. The way self-closing slides work, you push the drawer mostly in, and it retracts them the rest of the way slowly. That’s how normal self-closing slides work.
I don’t know what Craftsman tool designers were thinking when they selected the drawer slides for these storage products. Or maybe it was Waterloo designers’ choice, assuming Waterloo is the OEM making these products. In any case, they’re terrible!!
Self-closing drawers are supposed to be easier to close, not more difficult. These drawers resist closing. Here’s a quick 30-second video I took in-store while looking over the units. It takes more effort to close one of these drawers than it would to close them manually.
Why would Craftsman do this?! The only thing I could think of is that someone cheaped out and made a very poor design choice.
Regular ball-bearing drawer slides are better than poorly designed self-closing ones. This is how I feel, but it may not necessarily be how everyone feels. Maybe there’s a point to these “self-closing” drawer slides that I’m completely missing.
After discovering the self-closing drawer slides, I was too taken aback to continue with my impromptu review. Was the steel frame and drawer construction thinner than on previous storage products? Did the drawers operate smoothly when fully loaded to their 75-lb capacity? I can’t answer that.
Conclusion and Final Thoughts
On paper, the limited edition combo looks good. It features a higher drawer weight capacity than their lower and middle-end ball bearing models, reasonable pricing, decent storage capacity, and I-frame cabinet construction.
It also comes with drawer liners. The in-store ad says that they are included to organize and protect tools. I use drawer liners to protect tool drawers from scratches and to prevent tools from sliding when opening and closing drawers, but to say that liners organize and protect tools seems a bit vague and ambiguous.
The slides on Craftsman’s mid-line ball bearing storage combos – I say mid-line because even the lower-end products now have ball bearing slides – require a bit of force to close them completely. So I never closed mine completely. With my ball bearing chest, I opened the lid, pulled out all the drawers, closed the lid, and then closed all the drawers as far as they’d go. They appeared closed, and unless the chest was tilted on an incline, they stayed closed. I used my intermediate and GripLatch chests in the same way.
Perhaps these new self-closing slides are meant to improve upon Craftsman’s standard ball bearing slides. But unlike the standard slides, there doesn’t appear to be any workaround for the self-closing feature. If the self-closing mechanism worked like the ones found in modern kitchen cabinets, I’d embrace them. As-is, I think they’re terrible.
I don’t ordinarily review tools and products I haven’t had a chance to use and thoroughly test out, and as mentioned my assessment is somewhat incomplete. The alternative would be to call it a preview and title the post “Craftsman limited edition ball bearing tool chest with horrible self-closing drawer slides,” but that seemed a bit too sensational.
Bottom-line, I would never buy this storage combo, or the separate components, even if greatly reduced in price. The in-store ad says Expect More From Craftsman. I do, or at least I did, which is why coming across this demo unit left me so disappointed. Even so, it may be a good fit for your needs, especially given its decent capacity and pricing, but I very strongly urge you try the drawers out for yourself before buying.
Buy Now(via Sears)
Haha, I love how you have the “I would never buy this storage combo” followed by the Buy Now button.
The link is there primarily to reduce the amount of “where can I buy…” type of emails. I’m always glad to answer emails, but it gets frustrating when people ask questions that are answered in a post. While I’d never buy it, it might be a good fit for readers who do prefer drawers with this type of closing mechanism.
For longer posts, I turn the buy-now text links into a button to make it more visible. I still get “where can I buy…” emails, but not nearly as much as I used to.
maybe the drawers self close better with a heavy drawer???? im not sure,but your video makes me want no part of these type of drawers
Stuart–Not to be an apologist for Sears/Craftsman, but did the drawers in that unit have weights in them to simulate a loaded drawer? I’ve noticed the local Sears store puts weights in the drawers to get them to close properly. It’s even worse on the plain slide models. I have a Craftsman 26″-wide stainless steel bottom chest with ball bearing slides and grip latch closers purchased about four years ago. It often takes an extra nudge to get them to close with a loaded drawer, and I keep mine well-oiled, so an empty drawer not fully closing doesn’t surprise me. Plus, I suspect Sears’ idea of a self-closing drawer differs from what the rest of us think should be “self-closing” (actually, the feature is referred to as “soft-closing” on kitchen drawers).
The weights aren’t there to help the drawers close, but to demonstrate how smoothly ball bearings drawer slides glide under load.
You do have a point. What I’m thinking of are soft-closing slides, but I’ve seen them advertised as self-closing as well.
I highly doubt that a couple of pounds would make a significant difference with how the drawers close. Fully-loaded, the inertia might overcome the resistance easily. But I don’t fully load my drawers. Some have precision tools, others delicate instruments and measuring equipment.
I suppose it depends on the design of the closing mechanism. I suspect that two drawers, one fully loaded and one empty, will close in the same manner if closed at the same speed.
I agree, they might be easier to close when loaded. I don’t think their “designers/engineers” are stupid enough to build a limited edition series like that. If so, the need to hire new ones.
I’ve noticed in all the stores I’ve been in was that the drawers didn’t always seat flush with the cabinet. Some were as much as 1/4″ off..
Love the pressure on Sears/Craftsman/K-Mart, though I wonder if it will do any good. I keep spending time there while the girls shop in the rest of the mall but I haven’t bought anything to buy in over a year. I could fill a blog with stuff like this- it is obvious the Craftsman brand is being run by a bunch of folks that know absolutely nothing about tools.
All of the Craftsman/Waterloo boxes that have that oval ‘ball bearing’ logo on them are really not a good choice for people who are in & out of their boxes often. I had been waiting for the budget & room to get a big box and had been looking at the Craftsman ones very hard, with 3 stores around here (oops that’s two they just closed one) and an outlet where they often have tool storage overstocks. In the end I couldn’t justify getting a Craftsman because I’ve seen how their displays wore down in a store with very little foot traffic.
They had the Pink Viper box in store display for mother’s day. A different store regularly displayed the Lime one also. Both in comparison are much better quality drawer slides and overall just feel sturdier than even the best Craftsman ones, with the stainless ones being the best. It was close, but toward the end of the store that closed down I went in and compared the boxes, and tried to talk them into selling me some of the better quality display models at severely reduced price. The Lime they regularly had before had been out on display for about the same length of time and probably slid in & out the same number of times, but was a lot more smooth in the long term than the top Craftsman ones.
Stuart is right in using the term self closing. “soft close” is an entirely different feature which is often used in conjunction with “self closing”. The soft close is an air cushioned “hydraulic” damper meant to stop the door or drawer from slamming shut. The slamming shut is of course a direct result of the self close feature, which was mostly reserved for European cup hinges, youngdale hinges and some standard overlay hinges, until recently when the technology came to drawer slides. The self closing feature on a slide is the mechanism which pulls the drawer shut once the 3 or 4 inch threshold is reached towards the back of its travel. I believe this mechanism was first seen in under mount Blum tandem slides and the made its way to side mounted ball bearings. Of course after this feature was implemented, it became necessary to also add the soft close damper so that it would close itself, but not in a sudden jarring motion. So there’s your lesson on the difference between “soft close” and “self close”.
Thanks for the detailed clarification!
Most of the soft-close/self-close drawers I’ve seen close much more slowly and gradually. The Craftsman drawer slides shown above close with a rapid acceleration. I suppose that’s technically still self-closing, but all self-closing/soft-closing drawers I’ve seen have a soft acceleration and then constant velocity as the drawers gently close.
Description nuances aside, the drawer slides are still horrible. Self-closing/soft-closing means nothing if you have to exert a lot of effort to trigger the retracting mechanism. At the end of the day this is still an unhelpful design.
The reason these particular drawers have that rapid closing action is because they don’t feature the soft close mechanism you are used to. Cabinet hardware manufacturers realized long ago that without the soft close damper, a self closing drawer is too forceful. Sears obviously does not share that concern and chose to just go half way. After seeing your video, I completely agree with your recommendation to NOT purchase this set.
I bought thay bottom box for about $140 at Sears. They work much better with weight in them, but still not a great design. In my case, they are okay, but I could see how you could disrupt some arrangements with them.
This 10 drawer 2 piece combo limited edition is a piece of junk.I don’t know how you got the drawers to close that much in the original review but with the drawers closed and locked they stick out 1/4 of an inch and the tools are actually visible while locked.Now I know why they where on sale.I have lost my faith in sears products which I always used for home and in the car tools.I showed the guy pictures I took of it and he was oblivious to it .Bring it back and we’ll give you another one.No I’ll bring it back and get my money back and put the tools back in my 20 year old 3 drawer bottom and forget sears.
I got this Platinum/black chest+cabinet combo last year at a super discount. Love the platinum/black color combination and the 75lb drawer capacity is higher than any of my older Craftsman boxes. Removed each drawer to remove the annoying self-close part on each slide mechanism and now the drawers close nice and easy. This set uses big 1+3/8 slides that made each drawer sturdy. The only minor negative is each drawer is designed to stick out about a 1/2″ from the box. Too bad this combo was poorly marketed because they have been discontinued and now I really do have a “limited edition”.
I have a Craftsman Limited Edition Tool Chest (Top Section) Item No. 062023.
I am trying to find a matching bottom section and do not have an item number.
Sears- Craftsman has not offered any assistance on this subject.
Sounds like it’s sold out and you might be out of luck.
Model number for the bottom would be 62024. Item number would then be 113132, going by the Sears Outlet page I found.
My Limited Edition top unit is so much better in quality than the top and bottom Craftsman units I bought in 1985.
Did you ever find a matching bottom section? Like you I have the top section, and I would like to get a matching bottom one.