This weekend I will be giving away my favorite tool chest and an intermediate chest to my cousin-in-law’s husband. As I empty and clean them out, I think back to why I purchased them maybe 3 or 4 years ago.
Back then, I had quite a few tools and supplies, but most stored neatly into the two 3-drawer intermediate chest units I already owned. When I started accumulating a considerable amount of overflow, it was time to purchase more storage. I scoured through Lowes, Home Depot, and Sears, multiple times of course, and poured over print and online catalogs. I had a relatively small tool budget, not a lot of space, and was aware that I would have to carry the storage chest or cabinet up 28 stairs.
After much searching, I discovered Craftsman’s then-new 6-drawer ball bearing chest. The unit had a 26″ wide and 12″ deep footprint and 10-3/4″ deep drawers. Unlike Craftsman’s other 6-drawer units at the time, this new design had 6 full-width drawers instead of the more common 3-full and 3-split drawer design. The chest was only available in platinum grey/black, but that’s okay as it matched my already owned plat/black intermediate chest. I waited for a good sale, and picked up the chest when it dropped to maybe $160.
Since then I have often recommended this particular unit to friends, readers, and colleagues looking to start out. It features 5 relatively slim drawers (2″ height) and 1 taller drawer (~3-1/8″), which I feel to be perfect for most people making their first ball bearing tool chest purchase since it is extremely space-efficient. That’s also the reason I kept it around for so long even after purchasing several more spacious chests.
Most recently I had been using the chest to store my EDC items (flashlights, pocket knives, multitools), hardware, assorted fasteners, and photo accessories in the lid compartment.
I plan to move in a few months (definitely less than a year) from now once my research project is complete, and have come to the realization that not everything I own will find a place in my new home, wherever that will be. While I won’t be able to splurge right away, I plan to upgrade my storage setup with a larger high drawer-density setup.
And so in an attempt to curtail my current excesses, I decided to offer both the 6-drawer chest and its matching 3-drawer intermediate to my cousin in-law’s husband. He’s an engineer and just moved into a new house with his wife (my wife’s cousin), so I know he’ll be able to put the tool storage units to good use. Maybe he’ll put it on a workbench, maybe he’ll stack the chest on top of the intermediate with both atop a DIY-built platform, or maybe he’ll stash them both on some heavy duty shelving as I once did.
That’s another reason why I really liked these units – they were (relatively) easily repositionable. I didn’t have to arrange my workspace around the tool storage, I arranged the chests around my workspace (several times until I was happy), and it worked out well.
I know that a lot of people have been bashing Craftsman ball bearing storage quality recently, but I honestly have never had an issue with these chests. The steel is as thick as it needs to be, the units feel sturdy, and the drawers still glide as smoothly as ever.
In case you’re wondering, I still have two roll-away cabinets, two larger top-chests, and two small intermediates holding many of my tools. And no, I’m not giving these away, at least not anytime soon!
Craftsman 6-Drawer Ball Bearing Chest via Sears (Red/Black, but other colors are available as well)
Craftsman 3-Drawer Ball Bearing Intermediate Chest via Sears (Red/Black)
These days I often recommend the above linked-to red/black versions of these chests since they’re usually available in-store and priced a bit lower than the catalog-only versions. The features and build quality should be comparable if not identical.