In late May, Milwaukee Tool kindly sent me a 30″ ball bearing tool storage chest and cabinet combo for review (48-22-8530). While its larger 46″ predecessor has been around since last year, this size storage combination has only been available for few months at Home Depot.
Stuart’s already written a post introducing this 30″ storage combo and giving you his first thoughts, so rather than go over all the specs, let’s dive right in.
Delivery and Packaging
The delivery truck pulled up to my driveway on a Tuesday morning. I moved my wife’s car out of the garage so that the boxes wouldn’t get rained on. While I was talking to the delivery guy, he told me how some of the guys at the yard were joking around saying that they’d love to have this tool chest, that maybe these boxes should have gotten “lost.”
The packaging was in excellent condition so I signed off on the delivery. Then the boxes sat in my wife’s stall for half the day while I took care of some other business.
When I was finally able to get around to opening the packaging, I was impressed. Not only did they use the standard Styrofoam, but they also had pretty hefty cardboard angles reinforcing all the edges.
Milwaukee also thoughtfully placed tags on both the cabinet and the chest showing the location of the hardware. This was a nice touch so I didn’t have to dig through all the drawers to find it.
After I’d cleaned up all the plastic bags, I thought I should get a shot of all the packaging. It’s going to take me several garbage cycles to get rid of it all, but that’s the tradeoff for ding and dent protection.
Putting it all Together
When I flipped the cabinet over onto some of the packaging to protect the finish, I took note of the construction of the base. The bracing the casters bolt onto and the frame around the perimeter are nice thick angle iron, I measured it to be 0.185″ or about 3/16″.
The casters are extremely beefy. I was a little disappointed that they were hard plastic rather than rubber, but once I had the cabinet put together and filled it up, I had no problem rolling the cabinet over my dirty garage floor.
The only real question I had about the base was the small washers that shipped with the caster bolts. It seems to me, that for the size of the slot in the castor, you’d want a slightly larger washer to distribute the force more evenly. I could be wrong, and I’m sure the smaller washers do the job, but that little detail bothered me.
Once I got the cabinet flipped upright again I installed the handle and the bumpers.
In the picture above you can see the 5-1/2 foot, 14 ga cord for the power strip at full extension. If you don’t need the entire length you can either install the two supplied cord wrap brackets below the cord opening, or you can just stuff the cord back into the cabinet in the space between the inner and outer wall.
The other two pair of holes under the power strip match the mounting slots on the back of a Milwaukeee M12/M18 charger, and you get screws to mount them with.
The lower cabinet also comes with a full set of drawer liners and a thicker mat you can use on top of the rolling cabinet if you don’t mount the tool chest on top of it.
There isn’t much assembly for the chest, just placing all the drawer liners and top mat.
I thought maybe if I took out all the drawers out of the upper chest, it would be light enough for me to lift it by myself. The problem was that it was just too wide for me to get my arms around it to pick it up using the handles. So I called my daughter out and she helped me lift the tool chest up into place on the lower cabinet.
The upper chest is attached to the rolling cabinet by two brackets with four screws each. Like Stuart, I was a little surprised at how small the brackets and screws were. The screws are smaller than those used to support the plastic bump guards. But if you think about it, the brackets just have to stop the top chest from sliding around on top of the lower cabinet. It’s not like you are going to try to lift the lower cabinet with the handles on the chest.
Other products of this type typically have a short raised sheet metal lip around the sides and back of the cabinet for keeping a top chest in place.
Removing the drawers allowed me to see some more of the construction. The back of the drawers had these clips with holes in them. Just about all of them were bent at funny angles, I’m not sure what they are for though. You can also see the thickness of the steel that makes up the drawer. I measured it at 0.031″ which puts it around 21-22 gauge.
I got curious to see how thick the actual steel sheet that made up the carcass actually was. There was really no place where a bare edge existed. So I took off one of the side handle plates to measure the thickness underneath. I measured 0.043″ so it is probably 19 gauge. Also I expected to see it, but it’s good to verify none-the-less that the internals are coated the same as the outside.
Something strange I noticed was a little loop underneath the lid. I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be used for. My first thought was that maybe it was a loop that you could stick your finger in and grab the lid to close it. The cabinet is pretty tall and if I were any shorter closing the lid using the handle might be a problem. After I tried it closing it a few times with the loop, it seemed a little small for my index finger and it really doesn’t have the nice finish you’d expect of a handle.
Maybe it’s a mounting point for a worklight hook? Does anybody have a better idea what that loop is meant for?
Finally I tested out all the locks to make sure they worked right. I was pleasantly surprised that the locks on the upper chest and lower cabinet actually matched. (More on this below.)
Right now the 30″ chest and rolling cabinet are only sold as sets, which might explain the matching keys.
Loading it Up
Once the cabinet and chest were assembled and bolted together, I began the task of transferring most my tools from my old Craftsman 26″ chest and trying to figure out how to organize them with the new layout and larger drawers. One thing that is different from my old cabinet is that the drawer sizes go shallow to deep as you go down the chest, so some of the tools that I was used to having up high on my old tool chest would have to go lower on this chest. I’m still opening the wrong drawers.
I won’t go through every drawer, but I’ll highlight the more interesting storage locations or ones that I haven’t quite figured out what to do with yet.
I’m not a big fan of leaving power tool batteries in my garage because of the temperature extremes they’ll see. In the summer, with the garage door closed, it can easily get up to 120°F or higher and in the winter well below 0°F. I mounted a spare Milwaukee 12V/18V charger on one of the charger spots anyway and the mounting holes lined up perfectly. In the second spot, I placed one of my Ryobi chargers for charging the battery to my string trimmer, but I could only get one of the mounting holes to line up.
I’ve found it’s handy having chargers out in the garage for when I’m working outside and it’s a nice touch having the chargers located on the side so they don’t take up space in the top.
I’m still puzzled at what I should put under the lid. I can also see it becoming a mess quickly since it’s a nice flat surface to “temporarily” place a bunch of things. I did find a screwdriver holder to put on the pegboard to hold safety glasses. I also put some of my other safety supplies like a mask and neoprene gloves. There’s also the grommet in the top to run a cord through which would be nice for a radio if I used one.
Here’s a good view of how much larger the drawers are than my old 26″ cabinet. I took the wrench holder out of my Craftsman cabinet and put in one of the 30″ cabinet drawers. there’s a little extra room for a few of my larger wrenches.
I find it interesting that rather than have a separate work surface, Milwaukee decided to put a lid on one of the drawers. It makes sense that you wouldn’t be able to access the drawers below a work surface and this allows them to make another drawer slightly deeper. But with the way the hinged surface flips up, there’s space for tools to get lost under the lip.
I still haven’t figured out what to store under here that would merit a drawer that can be locked and unlocked separately from the rest of the drawers, so for now it’s my catch-all drawer.
Since it’s independently locked – if you want to lock it – it would be a great place to put a tablet, laptop, or other such equipment.
Or, you drill out the rivets to remove the hinged worksurface lid.
The bottom drawer is another conundrum for me. It’s designed to store power tools, but since I don’t like leaving batteries in the garage, storing power tools doesn’t do me much good. This is where I miss the locking door on my old craftsman. I could throw a toolbox underneath and other tall items like a pump sprayer.
When I was attending the 2016 Milwaukee New Products Symposium I got a chance to have the few concerns I brought up addressed.
There is no way to ensure that you get matching keys if you buy the cabinet and chest from the store. The only way to have matching locks is to ask Milwaukee for replacements. The product manager didn’t say what that would cost, but he said that it wouldn’t be a huge investment.
In the case you get different locks for the top and bottom, you should be able to swap the locks between the chest’s worksurface, which is keyed alike with the main chest lock, with the cabinet’s lock.
Stuart’s Note #1: The tool storage combos were shipped from Home Depot, who I’d assume is shipping matched chests and cabinets. Maybe we received special treatment to ensure that the review samples had matching keys, but that seems unlikely if not impossible.
About the small washer on the casters, I wasn’t really able to get a straight answer. He assured me that the bolts were spec’d to be fine with the larger slots even without the washers.
I asked him about the tray liners sliding around, and he said that’s why they included the double sided tape. Mention of this just didn’t make it into this version of the manual. I can’t believe I didn’t figure that out.
With the small screws and brackets, it was pretty much as I expected – the chest is really heavy enough to not slide around, and when fully loaded it isn’t going to budge. The Product Manager said they could have used even smaller brackets and screws.
What I like about the Milwaukee storage combo:
It’s solidly built for a $500 tool cabinet. I was at Home Depot the other day and I compared it to the Dewalt 36″ tool chest. When I opened and closed the drawers of the Dewalt, the whole cabinet wobbles, whereas the Milwaukee is much stiffer. The casters on the Milwaukee cabinet are beefier by far and have a nicer locking mechanism.
There’s plenty of storage. This storage combo is tall and there’s 11 good-sized drawers in which to lose your tools.
The soft close drawers are nice, push them in most of the way and they’ll close slowly the rest of the way. It’s not just a luxury feature; when I close the drawers too quickly on my Craftsman cabinet the tools shift around in the drawer.
Each drawer is rated to 100 lbs, except for the bottom drawer, which has 2 pairs of slides for a 200 lb load rating.
It’s pretty well thought out. I liked the cable pass-through and pegboard in the top compartment, the ability to hang chargers off the side near the built-in power strip, and I already mentioned the really nice locking casters.
There really isn’t much I don’t like. The things I didn’t care for, like the large bottom drawer, are more of a matter of personal preference than flaws with the storage combo. Stuart mentioned the little bit of play with the open drawers, but unless I started wobbling the drawers from side to side, I didn’t notice it with normal use.
Stuart’s Note #2: When reinserting 2 bottom cabinet drawers on my own sample set, after removing them to more easily move the lower cabinet into place up some stairs, I must have mangled something. Or maybe I bent a drawer slide as it extended out the cabinet. Now, one of the drawers hesitates to open fully, and another jams on the left side and requires a strong tug to go to full extension the last 2 inches or so. They close easily. The downside to this and other recent models is that you cannot easily replace the drawer slides yourself. Some competing brands’ products in this price range have easily removed slides which you can replace yourself.
It’s a growing annoyance that I mangled a slide or two and cannot easily correct the situation. I’m assuming that the issue resulted from user damage and not factory defect. What I might do at some point is source out replacement slides, which I think I should be able to attach by drilling out some rivets.
The only other potential downside I can see is with the matte, textured finish. If you are somebody who likes to keep their work area spotless, it’s going to be a lot harder to keep this clean. It’s going to take a little more elbow grease to clean off dirt and grime.
Stuart’s Note #3: On the 46″ combo, I rapidly tore off a product feature decal from the large bottom drawer, taking off a large piece of powder coat with it. This didn’t happen with the 30″ combo. Be careful when removing the decals.
The top chest and bottom cabinet are sold as a set for $498 at Home Depot. Since the top chest weighs 188 lbs and the bottom 171 lbs, this was not something that I would have been able to unload out of the back of my pickup truck by myself. So unless you have a couple of buddies willing to help you unload these heavy, unwieldy boxes, paying Home Depot $55 for the delivery, if you are in the right area, might be money well spent.
Stuart’s Take: I’ve spent more time comparing 26″-sized tool storage cabinets and chests than I’m ready to admit. I own several recent-years Craftsman tool storage products. No, this Milwaukee combo isn’t perfect. But the finer touches, such as the soft-close drawer slides, easy-pull full-width drawer handles, sturdy tubular handles, easy-toggle caster locks, and the way the top compartment is constructed and laid out, they make this an excellent product. I believe that, for $500, this is the best tool storage combo out there right now.
Buy Now(via Home Depot)
Thank you to Milwaukee for providing the review samples unconditionally.
The tabs on the drawers, could those possibly be used for when they are coating the drawers? That’s my guess. Great review by the way! Also a sweet looking cabinet.
I’m not sure how high the lid is when open, but I’m thinking the loop in the lid might be a spot to hook a short string (lanyard, cordelette, …) for someone shorter to close the lid by pulling on it. I’m probably way off but that’s the first thing that I thought of.
That’s a great guess!
I saw the first part of your comment, “I’m not sure how high the lid is when open, but I’m thinking the loop,” and the idea of a close-assist jumped out at me too.
The combo is very tall, so a pull-assist isn’t unreasonable, and that would be a great place to put it.
The loop on the inside was designed for the Milwaukee M12 or M18 stick lights.
If you really want to figure out the probability of getting matching keys by complete chance, there’s always the German Tank Problem approach, assuming the keys are serially numbered.
I did that with my own tool chest, and figured out it was actually fairly high odds, around 1:50, if I remember correctly. Of course, I ended up with a bigger base sample size since I received a damaged set initially. I wrote down the key numbers (surprisingly it was a matched set) on the first damaged shipment I received. When I got the replacement it wasn’t a matched set, so I got two more numbers to work with.
I’ve never heard of the German Tank Problem before, but after looking it up, it seems I’ve got some nice reading material for later – thanks!
I did figure out how many key possibilities there are : 7 notches that can be what looks like 4 different depths. So 4^7 or 16384 different keys are possible.
I could be wrong about the depths though, there could be more, but probably not. You have to account for the tolerances of the lock mechanism and also make the depths different enough so that if you aren’t sticking the key in a perfect 180 that they line up.
Who knows how many different keys Milwaukee is actually using and how many units they’ve shipped.
Ben: What about the loop inside the top lid??? Didn’t the Milwaukee Symposium guys know what it is for?
I hadn’t noticed it before I went to the Milwaukee Symposium, otherwise I would have asked. I actually just noticed it a few days ago and just put it in that section because it seemed to fit better there.
The loop in the lid can be used for any number of things. It can be used for a lanyard so shorties can close the lid. It can be used to hang a worklight. It can be used to hang your safety glasses so they’re always front and center. It can be used to hang a clipboard or instructions for whatever you’re working on. It can be a place to keep a pen/pencil. In short, the options are many, limited only by your imagination.
While it may be handy to have Milwaukee’s input on why THEY put it there, don’t be limited by their intent.
Not trying to be rude here gents, but do you guys realize that the only dimension you’ve given for these units is the exterior width? Not just in this review, but also in Stu’s.
You talk about it being tall, but don’t say how tall tall is. No mention of the depth beyond a very non-specific comparison to 12″ deep Craftsman units. No mention of the interior width and depth (to the back) of the drawers.
That was intentional.
Not to sound like I’m making excuses, but there are so many dimensions that I didn’t want there to be information overload. That, and no matter how many dimensions or specs would be listed, it’s hard to be complete. And specs won’t always answer whether a tool will fit or not.
All of the specs are on HD’s site, and those that aren’t can be answered with a tape measure by either myself or Benjamen.
Per HD’s listing, the full dimensions are:
Total combo is 34.7 in. W x 66.14 in. H x 18.2 in. D and weighs approximately 288 lbs.
Per my tape measure, the top compartment is ~57″ from the floor.
But the depth I meant to add in; its omission was unintentional. The top and bottom are the standard ~18″ deep, drawer depth is ~16″ deep.
Craftsman’s smallest chest depth is 12″ deep with ~10.5″ drawer depth, but their other chests are 16″ deep with 14-and-change-inch-deep drawers. Roller cabinets are 18″ deep. This is talking about their 26″ wide storage products.
I actually like that the chest and cabinet are the same depth.
It was an oversight that I didn’t mention the height. The relevant numbers are the top shelf is 56″ off the ground when assembled, the whole cabinet is 67″ when it’s closed, and the lid reaches up to 82″ when it’s open.
The external depth is slightly over 18″.
I purposely didn’t include specs because I though Stuart covered them (I was mistaken) and the review was getting long.
If you click the HD link you can easily find the drawer specs:
Drawer dimensions for top chest: two drawers: 12.2 in. W x 15.9 in. D x 1.77 in. H; three drawers: 25.79 in. W x 15.9 in. D x 1.77 in. H; one drawer- 25.7 in. W x 15.94 in. D x 2.13 in. H
Drawer dimensions for rolling cabinet: three drawers 25.7 in. W x 15.9 in. D x 2.8 in. H; two drawers 25.7 in. W x 15.9 in. D x 4.9 in. H; one bottom drawer 25.7 in. W x 15.9 in. D x 10.2 in. H
I verified the width and depth of the drawers to be accurate.
So I’m curious, were these units purchased new by you or were they freebie units or reviews units that will be returned to milwaukee. I’m sure you’ve covered that in the past, but after reading your site for a few years I’m not actually sure your policy on notating outright free items vs. purchased items that are being reviewed.
A few thoughts – if indeed you’re keeping these units, why on earth would you NOT use the proper sized flat washers in the assembly? Certainly does seem like it be the best bet for a long lasting wheel attachment.
Also – you’re measurement of the body steel: did you factor in the powder coating thickness?
Finally, why won’t any of the consumer box makers build one that is 21-24″ deep? That would instantly differentiate from all of the competition as currently no consumer grade boxes of the medium width type are more than 18″ deep to my knowledge.
To answer your easy questions:
1) The actual measurement I give is the measurement of the steel and the coating, it’s what my micrometer showed. I used this measurement to look up the gauge on a table and I rounded down to the thinner gauge.
2) I’d like to say that I didn’t use the proper sized washers because I wanted to test the unit as is and see if it failed over time, but frankly I was being lazy.
3) Don’t know, maybe Stuart has some insight on why consumer boxes aren’t deeper.
On the test sample policy, I’m sure Stuart will chime in about that, but I am happy to answer what I can.
If we get a test sample from a company we note it in the post. In this case yes it was free from Milwaukee. I said it at the top and again at the bottom, but I can see how it could be a little ambiguous. Yes I get to keep it. That’s pretty standard. There are instances where companies loan out samples, but I haven’t encountered that so far.
What happens to the tools after the post. Sometimes we’ll continue to use them either for long term testing or just because we really liked the tool, sometimes they get packed away an stored to be pulled out later so we can answer questions or compare them to other tools or newer versions, and sometimes they are given away.
One thing that Stuart is a stickler on is that the samples be given unconditionally. Practically, this means that we don’t have to review it if we don’t want to — so the company isn’t expecting a review as “payment.” There sample tools I haven’t reviewed because I haven’t had the time or just didn’t think it was worth writing about (or that I felt I couldn’t do a qualified review).
Personally I struggle with receiving samples and having close ties to companies (IE Milwaukee paying for my travel and hotel to attend their Symposium). I would like to remain as unbiased as I can when I review products, but we wouldn’t be able to put up the kind of in depth content on the site if we didn’t. It’s a balance that every individual reviewer has to come to on their own.
Sorry, I thought it was clear that these were provided for Milwaukee.
At the start it says: “In late May, Milwaukee Tool kindly sent me a 30″ ball bearing tool storage chest and cabinet combo for review (48-22-8530).”
And the end it says: “Thank you to Milwaukee for providing the review samples unconditionally.”
My policy is to ALWAYS mention when a product is provided for free or at a discount. We also mention when a product is purchased at retail, usually in the context of a post.
Most magazines don’t make any mention of where a product sample comes from, and I’ve known a few that will never write about something unless they get it for free.
These are not loaners, they’re ours to do as we wish. My sample will likely be given away locally at some point. In the meantime, we’re continuing to use and test them, and will be able to answer questions that come up.
I also wish that we could purchase every single tool that is reviewed on ToolGuyd, but that’s simply not possible when talking about things like power tools or tool storage.
I have a policy of purchasing tools and supplies that are for personal or ToolGuyd use. Because of this, I never need anything, and I find that this keeps things objective and pure.
Why don’t consumer brands make 21″ to 24″ deep tool storage products? I might spin this question off into a post, but here are some quick thoughts
1) Most consumers don’t want or need such deep tool storage products.
2) Most consumers won’t pay the added cost.
3) Most consumers don’t want the deeper footprint.
Even when you look at certain professional and industrial-grade storage products, a lot of them are ~18″ deep or thereabout.
I am a little concerned about build quality on all chests. My current Craftsman has served me well for over 30 years, but its time has come. The current Craftsman line is less robust than mine so I decided to look elsewhere. Snapon was my immediate thought, but their pricing is out of the question for a shadetree mechanic, garage woodworker, and an occasional home remodeler. At any rate, the Milwaukee seems like a quality product. But do we know where it is manufactured?
It’s made overseas.
If you want better quality, the cost goes up significantly.
Milwaukee quality is good, and offers great value for the money. But it falls short of premium super robust models that cost substantially more.
It’s thoughtfully designed to give max bang for the buck, in my opinion.
It seems to me Milwaukee has hit a near perfect balance between quality and cost. As mentioned in the article, it would be too pricey if they competed with the tool truck guys. But their quality seems to beat all the standard homeowner competing products like Craftsman. For many items, in general, I like to buy what the pros use. For example, for many kitchen items, I buy what the restaurant supply sells (which sometimes means check the online restaurant retailers, then buy the same product at Amazon). Buy brooms that janitors use. Etc. But for Joe homeowner to buy the tool truck boxes is just way overboard IMHO, so in comes Milwaukee with just the right play.
I recently moved and managed to break both locking mechanisms on the castors when I was pulling the chest/cabinet combo out of the shed I had it in. I, like you, managed to mangle the drawer slides on two of the lower drawers trying to put the drawers back in after the move. Bearings went everywhere. Wonder if this is a common problem?
If you contact Milwaukee Tool, they might be able to help you with replacement parts.
I don’t think it’s common, but I also found myself having to be a little more careful in putting drawers back into he unit than with other storage products I’ve used in the past. Then again, I don’t make it a habit of taking drawers out unless I really need to, such as when moving empty cabinets up or down stairs.
What did you use to mount the chargers on the side of the tool chest?
Milwaukee’s tool storage products have threaded inserts and screws that line up with the keyhole slots of their chargers.
I´VE BOUGHTED 6PCS. OF THAT COMBO AND I NEED 4 PCS. MORE, SOMEBODY KNOW WHERE THEY ARE.
These seem to be selling well. There are none in inventory within a 100 miles and I checked a few cities in a neighboring state where I travel for business- same thing.
Seems odd that HD wouldn’t replace what sells. But I did appreciate your detailed review.
I believe this model is currently being redesigned, due to new tariffs brought about by a government investigation petitioned by Waterloo, now owned by Stanley Black & Decker.
Milwaukee customer service sent this today: “Unfortunately stock is very limited at this time. We are in the process of restructuring our tool boxes and should be available the 3rd quarter of 2018. ”
I didn’t know about Waterloo’s anti-dumping petition regarding Chinese tool chests. I may need to reconsider Harbor Freight’s U.S. General line before I’m priced out of options.
Im happy with my Milwaukee top box cause it was cheaper than Snap On or MAC