I bought a Harbor Freight US General 30″ service cart back in November 2020, for use as a catch-all in my garage.
It has served me well in the more than 2 years since then.
The cart features an open bottom shelf, a single drawer with ball bearing slides, and an open top compartment.
If I recall correctly, it went together easily. The handles’ surface finish had minor flaws, but other than that there wasn’t much to complain about.
This is a low-strength cart, but at the time I spent around $100 including shipping. There was nothing else I could find that even came close to what this offered for the money.
I bought this as a temporary catch-all. It has been my electrical work cart, my power tool battery cart, and my project workcenter.
Right now, I have the bottom loaded with cordless outdoor power tools and batteries, the drawer with a couple of hand and power tools, and the top with new equipment I’ll be testing shortly. There are tape measures, a drill, and a cordless vacuum clipped to or otherwise hanging off the side walls that surround the top shelf.
To my surprise, the finish has held up well also – there is very little chipping except a point or two where I am to blame. The wheels are in great condition, and the drawer shows no sign of wear yet.
I definitely got my money’s worth here.
I have been considering retiring the cart, as I need greater storage efficiency. Basically, I need something much taller that can hold more stuff without taking up a lot more space. The open shelf on the bottom is useful, but another shelf or second drawer would be better use of the space.
But, it continues to be useful. Maybe this will end up in the utility room, where it can hold misc. replacement plumbing and lighting parts. There are a couple of other ways I might use it.
The US General cart turned out to be far more versatile than I had anticipated. I bought it as a somewhat temporary solution, but I keep finding new ways to use it.
It’s too long to slide under a workbench, and too short to use as a work surface.
I should note that the current version is labeled Series 2, but I can’t see how it’s different than the one I bought.
Yes, I would absolutely buy it again.
The cart is currently priced at $140, and Harbor Freight has occasional promos or coupons that might work on it. There are 7 color choices – red, blue, black, green, orange, yellow, and white.
- 30″ length x 16″ depth x 35″ height
- 350 lb total weight capacity
- Powder-coated finish
- 4″ casters (2 locking)
- One drawer with ball bearing slides
- Weighs 52 lbs
You could sell it, or you could mod it which might be a fun project. Add a shelf, even cutting down the length (losing the drawer) might get you something that remains useful in your shop or workspace.
I have a collection of IKEA RÅSKOG carts that I use for various tasks. One I made a removable, lipped top for, and use it like a surgical tray to hold tools next to my bench, freeing up working space. Another I use to hold everything I need for sanding, both power and hand. One holds a lot of gluing and finishing supplies; that one has a lot of outrigger pouches to hold things like acid brushes and mixing sticks. Modding them is fun and useful.
Plan A: Reuse in a different room.
Plan B: Give away to family.
Plan C: Donate to the local high school or public works guys.
I’m not a fan of selling things like this; because it was purchased and used as a business expense, I would then have to figure out how to report the sale. It’d be easier for me to give away for free.
The Raskog is excellent!!! I have a couple and they’re very versatile for light duty storage needs.
I wrote about it a few years ago – https://toolguyd.com/ikea-raskog-cart-cheap-rolling-helper/
I think I have 8 of them now, give or take 1.
That Raskog article inspired me to buy three when I found them on sale for $20 year ago. Two of them were promptly “borrowed” by family. They’re really great for small project carts.
I’m torn between getting a few more of them or a pair of the US General carts (tech, mechanic, or service) and dedicating one to woodworking and the other to mechanic/electrical tools. I think it will depend on how I finally organize the garage this summer.
The Raskogs are nice, but completely different in scale. You can always bring your existing unit to your workshop to see if it can work out, and then buy more if needed.
I have a couple filled with tools, but they wouldn’t hold much of what I have used the HF cart for.
You’re absolutely right about capacity. The Raskog gets filled quickly with just some basic tools. It’ll be late summer before I get to play with this idea more, but it’s definitely on the list.
Thanks for such great information. Your site is a daily read for me.
The Raskog is $40 now. It goes on sale on occasion.
You are suppose to report sale income if you expensed it in one tax year or depreciated it all over a couple of years.
Oh, I bought the 5 draw for $160 when it first came out. Still fine.
I have the US General 5 drawer tool cart and I absolutely love it. Right now I think U.S. General is the best bang for the buck for tool boxes. I thought they felt better made than comparable Craftsman or Husky. Perhaps I’m just a sucker for the colors. I love that cobalt blue!
US General for a long time has been that sweet spot of good pricing and quality. Prices have been going up steadily over the last couple years but everything has. They are still the brand to beat, husky being a second just because they don’t have all the random sales.
I bought this same cart about two months ago specifically to serve as a service cart while I work on my car. It’s performed just as I expected, and I now use it for holding things like torque wrenches, and the like. The 16″ depth was a must for me, as I keep it near the entrance of the shop.
All in all, a winner in my book. It’s currently $110 if you’re an “Inside Track” club member, which pays for the cost of the club in one fell swoop.
I have a similar cart purchased from HF 5+ years ago – used mostly for auto maintenance and repair. It’s been flawless to date including the finish – never expected that.
I have this in red. I removed the logo and put a Milwaukee sticker in it’s place. I have also added a Milwaukee pack out plate on the side. It holds my radio and other pack out items.
I also have one that I use to fill up with tools when I work on a car once in a while. Much better than going in and out of the garage multiple times. Has served me well.
I bought a red one one a few years ago, specifically for my wire feed welder on the bottom shelf, bench top bandsaw on top and welding supplies in the drawer. Works amazingly well. I can even shim the bandsaw up a little and the chrome handles act as outfeed supports.
Harbor freight tool chests will not age well,nor hold value.
Same with husky, or all the other big box store boxes.
They will last a little while if you don’t roll them around ,loaded.
You can find good used professional carts for double the price of new shiny cheap brands.
They are 4x the build quality, and will have replacement parts long after the shiny companies will go out of business,or not offer replacement parts.
However I did buy a husky 56 for $250 9n clearance, but I understand it’s junk and will not last,the Mac 6 drawer small chest above will hold the same weight in 1/10th the size…and is 30+ years old.
It was a short-term solution that outlived its anticipated usefulness. In this case, it would take a lot longer for Snap-on benefits to justify the premium.
If you want a burger, you can go cheap or premium, and the difference will be immediately apparent. If you want new boots, there might be slight initial differences, but the main differences will only become apparent in time.
This is similar. With the lighter use I put the cart through, Snap-on or other truck brand quality would not have been apparent outside of maybe initial observations in the surface finish or similar.
The tasks I intended for it weren’t worth paying double the price or more.
I’m also not a fan of used equipment. Why spend weeks or months looking for used carts in various condition when I wanted one immediately? It arrived, I assembled it, and I put it to work with no cleaning, rust removal, refinishing, or repairs needed.
Says who? I’ve got one of the earlier 48″ rolling tool chests that still came with the crinkled red finish. It’s in great shape. Only thing that went on it was the rubber on the caster wheels from sitting for so long. I scraped most of it off and it rolls on the cast iron centers now. I would guess that the thing is probably over 15 years old and it still works fine, drawers operate smoothly, no rust.
I’ve also got one of the rolling tool carts back when they priced them at 159 normally and down to I think about 130 on sale. It’s also in perfect shape. Only thing I ever need to do is lube the drawers when they get a bit stiff. It’s probably close to 15 years old as well.
My machining business purchased four of those US General chests with the wrinkly red paint years ago. We used them for tooling: tool holders, end mills, drill bits, carbide inserts, taps, measuring equipment, as well as hand tools for working on the machines, changing bits, etc. They weren’t as heavily loaded as my socket drawer in my main mechanic’s box (Snap-On) but they weren’t too far behind. And they lasted for the decade which I was involved with the business just fine, in use 6 days a week. We had several of their service carts as well, and we loaded those quite heavily, for example with CNC lathe chucks. Again, no trouble.
I do agree they don’t hold their value in terms of brand-name recognition the way a tool truck brand does, and no, they’re not as heavily built as the high end stuff either. But they are far from junk and in my experience they handle light to moderate commercial use just fine.
For the casual to serious hobbyist or shade tree mechanic, the HF carts and boxes are a very good value- IF you understand their limitations. No, they won’t hold the weight of a tool truck box… No, they’re not even in the same time zone quality wise.
However, I don’t make a living with my tools or boxes. I maintain my own vehicles and equipment, and have 1 or 2 project cars going at any given time.
Read and understand the cart specs, and use it within those limitations, and for the casual user, you’ll get many years of service- for 20% the cost of Snap On or Mac..
HF, despite their “average ” quality compared to pro grade, represents some of the best values in the tool business for the average joe. HF allows me to have a depth and breadth of tools available that I couldn’t afford if I bought truck tools. They allow me to have duplicates- or triplicates- I have shop tools, tools that stay in my F150, tools that I keep in my restomod 64 Scout, tools in the house…
I sacrifice some quality for quantity and availability
FWIW, I rarely see pro boxes being sold locally- probably because the guys that buy them make their living with them, and they last a career….
I have 2 very large rolling tool cabinets with about every mechanic’s tool imaginable in them–but they are full and consequently HEAVY and a pain to roll around a large shop. Therefore I bought the 5-drawer version several years ago and I have it PACKED FULL of common stuff used on every day mechanic’s project so I can just roll this little cart around and have 90% of the tools most jobs need close at hand. Right now I have it setting in front of an old Ford Louisville truck that I’m changing out the turbo on that I’ll be done with by the end of the day.
I have it really weighted down with hundreds of pounds of tools in it, and it’s held up well. A good buy for sure.
I have a few in the workshop. One is dedicated as the oil change cart or station. I have my oil filter wrenches, my pneumatic oil extractor, and other needed items on it. I have another that I modified with 7″ pneumatic locking casters I bought from msc (and admittedly the cost of the casters is close to the whole cart lol) to have for a tool cart or catch all for outdoors. I’ll load this cart up with tools for doing things outside around the house or even working on a vehicle. I’ve got another one that was returned with no use (bought it for $59 open box and assembled) that is only used for my 3d printer. It works perfect for this usage.
They basic and not heavy duty but the pricing is the sweet spot for me. Having multiple carts makes work and jobs go easier.