WOO! The freight company delivered a Milwaukee mobile tool workbench at around 5:30pm today. The packaging was torn up, and the mobile workbench wasn’t attached to its pallet.
Oh, and the tool cabinet was already on its back. Somehow it was actually vertical – on its side, and the driver plopped it down onto its back on the pallet. I shuddered as it bounced a little. That can’t be how these are supposed to be shipped, no wonder the packaging was in shambles.
With the cabinet on its back, it was a challenge to retrieve the keys, and an even greater challenge to pull out the drawer with the box of casters and cabinet hardware.
But, once I got the casters out, they were easy to attach.
And then came the big moment – how the heck do I raise this thing onto its wheels?
I don’t have a hoist, and I don’t know when an able-bodied buddy or family member could come by to lend some muscle. It’s not a good idea to raise or lift a tool cabinet by oneself, even one that’s considerably smaller than this one.
This cabinet weighs in at around 402 pounds. Yikes!
My left shoulder was already aching from a bad lifting strain earlier, so I needed to take it easy.
In addition to the size of the cabinet – 5 feet – and the hefty weight, the rear pegboard panel wasn’t secure, and so the cabinet slid along it. Plus it was hard to get a good grip around the top.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to raise the cabinet all the way, you just have to get it up to around 45° and then let gravity do the rest.
Somehow, I was able to get this thing on its wheels. Yes!
I locked the bottom (pivoting side) casters and brought out some 4-foot long 2x4s for leverage. I raised one end of the pallet, tilting it and the workbench top upwards. I took a gamble that this would work, and it paid off.
Getting the whole shebang to tilt to around 15° was pretty easy. Getting it raised to a 45° angle was not. But somehow I got it done, and without much strain or fatigue. It slid down the tilted pallet a few times, but by sliding the cabinet back up the pallet, a few inches on each side at a time I was able to raise its position a little more.
I rested the 2x4s on cardboard boxes filled with other boxes for recycling. Then I jammed a long narrow box-filled box under the center of the pallet. Some more heaving with the 2x4s, and the mobile workbench was on its back wheels. From there, I was able to gently lower the cabinet to its proper position.
I certainly don’t recommend this method to anyone. It’s usually going to be better to grab a friend and use teamwork and combined strength to raise a mobile tool cabinet or heavy workbench like this.
Raising a tool cabinet even half this size is risky to do solo. I worked carefully and deliberately, and it worked out well.
But here’s what I’m wondering.
If YOU were faced with raising a large and heavy tool cabinet from its back to its wheels, how would you do it?
I don’t even know what I would have done if I had to raise this from its base to its back, if it had shipped in the proper position.
If I hadn’t had my 2×4 levers nearby to use, and filled cardboard boxes to help bear the weight of the 2x4s at intermediate angles so I could rest my arms and body, I never would have been able to raise it myself.
Stops for the back casters might have prevented sliding and made the process easier. The sliding of the cabinet, down the tilted pallet, really slowed me down at times, and it’s the correction of this, by sliding the cabinet back up, that really tested my strength.
These user manuals tell you to put a cabinet on its back, or raise it to its wheels, but they never discuss how.
I’m thinking that 3 of me might have been able to raise the workbench without any type of leverage aids. Maybe 4 of me. Honestly, I don’t think just 1 helper would have been enough.
The Milwaukee unit came with its own mini double-ended wrench, in case buyers don’t have their own, and so I doubt that they assume users will have specialty equipment. And actually, the manual does say something how this workbench isn’t really meant to be lifted.