Milwaukee sent over one of their new 30″ ball bearing tool storage combos (Ben received one too, and he’s working on the full review), and I finally had a chance to put it together today.
I noticed a few things about the combo, but before we talk about it, I should tell you a little but about my tool storage experience.
I own Craftsman ball bearing storage products, and a Beta rolling cabinet. Aside from these, I have used Lyon, Waterloo, Kennedy, and older Craftsman products. I’ve used others, but these are the ones that I have any good memories of. Oh, and Dewalt and Milwaukee’s newer combos as well, but I don’t have as much experience with them yet.
When purchasing my several Craftsman ball bearing storage products over the years, I spent a lot of time looking over competing Kobalt, Husky, Viper, and higher and lower priced Craftsman units. A lot of time.
It is perhaps an understatement to say I’m particular about tool storage.
Quick Product Intro
Milwaukee has come out with 2 other ball bearing tool storage products. The number increases if you consider their combo as being 2 separate products, which you can, since they’re also sold separately.
First came Milwaukee’s 46″ tool storage combo. I’ve used it, and it’s quite nice. Like this 30″, it offers great bang for the buck and lots of thoughtful features.
Then came this 30″ combo and a new 60″ mobile tool cabinet, which is also built with some neat features.
This 30″ combo features a 6-drawer top chest (4 full-width drawers, 2 half-width drawers), which also has a spacious top compartment, large side handles, gas strut lid supports, and a built-in pegboard. Also included in the combo is a tall 6-drawer roller cabinet with double-slide bottom drawer, a power tool organizer, a built-in power strip, cord wrap, and mounting points for M18 and M18/M12 battery chargers.
Each drawer has a 100 lb load rating, except for the bottommost double slide drawer, which has a 200 lb load rating.
Some of the features are leaps and bounds better than what you get elsewhere, at least for anywhere near the same price, such as the large easy-toggle casters. You can read more about this in my look at the 46″ combo.
5 Initial Observations
In learning more about, and then putting together this Milwaukee 30-inch combo, I noticed a few things. They’re not meant to be praises or complaints, but treat them as you will.
1. Milwaukee equips it with the same tech as their higher priced products.
This surprised me. Surely this one would have smaller and cheaper casters, smaller side handles, lousier gas spring for the top lid, or weaker drawer slides. Or maybe fewer features.
This combo is smaller and less expensive, but not cheaper.
2. It is has a useful top compartment.
I have a standard Craftsman 4-drawer rolling cabinet, and a 6-drawer Griplatch top chest. First, that top compartment is a pain to use. When you lift the lid of a Craftsman chest and then close it, if any of your drawers aren’t left open a bit, they’ll get locked down. Because of that, I hardly ever lifted the lid, and my drawers never quite closed all the way. With the lid closed, the drawers could never seat into a detent, which provided slight drawer retention.
2.5. The combo is TALL. Here are some more things to know about the top compartment.
The top compartment is large enough to be useful, but it’s also at a high level. I’ll have to go back and measure the height, but let’s just say that you won’t be placing any reading materials on that top compartment. You do have that pull-out work surface drawer…
I was able to place the installation guide in the top compartment and read it (all drawers were removed so I could both parts up the stairs), but it was a stretch.
Don’t expect to work out of that top compartment, but you can use it to store bulky power tools, certainly to charge batteries, and things like that.
The plastic bumpers, found on the bottom of the cabinet, are attached using larger and longer fasteners than the right angle brackets used to connect the chest to the cabinet. I found that to be a little strange
4. You can’t lock the top chest with the drawers removed.
I think this will also mean that you won’t be able to lock it if any drawers are left open. (But why would you want to?)
5. Replacement part availability is uncertain.
I didn’t ask Milwaukee about this yet, but I found myself wondering about replacement parts, not that I think I’ll need it. What if slide got mangled? It doesn’t look to be user-replaceable, but for the price I don’t think this is a big deal.
Quick First Hands-On Impression & Craftsman Comparison
I had slight hesitations, after hearing that this 30″ tool storage combo is taller than Milwaukee’s 46″ tool storage combo, but I’m liking its size more than I thought I would.
My Craftsman chest has 6 drawers – 4 narrow ones, 2 deeper ones, and my Craftsman cabinet has 4 drawers of various heights. I gave my intermediates to my father, but if it’s not using them I’ll take the orange one back. I found that, with the intermediate, the chest drawers were a little too high.
I think that this combo is pretty closely comparable to a Craftsman chest, intermediate, and standard rolling cabinet combo, at least in storage capacity. The Craftsman combo, as described, would have one more drawer, but a rather useless top compartment. Plus it would be a few inches narrower, and would lack the built-in power strip and top compartment pegboard.
I just might have to do a side by side comparison. I like this combo, which is a little unexpected, as I have always been picky about drawer configurations.
Let’s rewind a couple of years, to the time when I was ready to upgrade from 12″ deep tool storage products, with their ~10-1/2″ drawer depth. Would I buy this combo over the various Craftsman, Husky, and Kobalt combos out there? Quite frankly, I think so.
Is it perfect? No. I’d like to see the drawers built from heavier gauge steel, and for there to be a little less side play with open drawers. But that’s true for all of Milwaukee’s ball bearing storage product.
But I keep getting the impression that Milwaukee’s storage combos have been cleverly designed to offer the most features and best storage capacity and configuration, for the money.
If I had a $500 budget, which is how much this combo costs ($498) not including freight ($55 to my zip), I think I might have bought one.
Now, if you excuse me, I have some heavy boxes full of tools to unpack into some drawers. I’ll report back once I’ve used it a bit.
Buy Now(via Home Depot)
Thank you to Milwaukee for sending over this review sample unconditionally.
I just leave my top open unless I’m going to lock it. At home my lid is up right now, no need to lock my home toolbox. At work, I get there open it and it stays open until I put everything away, lock it and leave.
I’ve looked at these, they’re really nice. They’re a great bargain, though I think I still like the HF toolboxes more than these…but at the retail chains, this would be the one I’d buy.
I purchased the original Milwaukee storage combo (lower cabinet only)at Home Depot and have had to replace the lock twice and a top drawer slide once. Both resulting from daily, hard use from multiple people (and probably overloading the drawer). While the locking cylinder is disappointing, the slide was understandable.
On both fronts replacements parts were sent free of charge, after some phone wrangling. Apparently the box’s manufacture is subcontracted through Rigid, as Milwaukee transferred my shop foreman to their service line for the claim and the parts arrived with Rigid markings on the box.
The drawer slides are riveted on, but it was a simple matter to drill those out and secure the new one with self tapping screws.
I looked at the 30″ and the larger work bench model this last weekend. Drawer configuration is alright on the 30″, but the work bench sucked in my opinion. Quality is ok at best, I don’t see the appeal over a comparable unit from HF. I just wish HF would come out with some newer midsize models.
What would be the best storage solution if I’m going to mainly be storing power tools instead of hand tools? Maybe it’s just the pics but those drawers don’t look tall enough. It doesn’t have to be mobile
That depends greatly on how many power tools you need to store. There are larger Milwaukee / Dewalt / Porter Cable branded boxes than this one, as reviewed elsewhere on the site, and they have several deeper drawers along with that top compartment for power tool storage.
I think the idea is to keep your most-used power tools on the top shelf, along with a plugged-in charger, so you have quick access to the tools, a freshly charged battery, and then use one or more of the drawers for accessory storage so you can pick out what bit or blade you need along with the tool and battery.
The deeper drawers can fit most power tools, and the mid-depth ones can probably fit things like drills when on their side.
It depends on the kinds of power tools, but generally these types of drawered cabinets are meant for hand tools, or a mix of hand tools and power tools.
For a LOT of power tool storage, you would probably be better off with a doored cabinet, one with adjustable shelves and larger compartment heights.
This looks like a great size for homeowners who want a mix of power tool and hand tool storage, but who don’t want or can’t fit the much larger Milwaukee / Dewalt / Porter Cable boxes. I still like the Craftsman/Waterloo boxes more, even if their lid latch is a hassle, especially if you’re not used to it, but it beats drawers opening up when moving the box around, especially if that would mean the box tipping forward.