Chevy High Performance: 13-Drawer Tool Cabinet

Opinions are like hand tools: everybody’s got them.  But while they vary when it comes to which Harbor Freight tools customers have on their wish lists, one item seems to make ALL the lists– the wildly popular US General Pro 44″ 13-Drawer Roller Cabinet.

How many times did you have a ‘honey-do’ fix, or faced a weekend auto project, and didn’t know exactly where your needed tools were? They used to be in that drawer… or was it in that one spot on the workbench? I think it’s safe to say, I’m not the only one who goes through that hellacious routine from time to time.

In the December 2012 issue of Chevy High Performance, Henry De Los Santos shared that, since his team finally graduated to a “real toolbox” (the 13-drawer cabinet), they now enjoy being able to find any particular tool right away when they need it. And since this tool cabinet is modular, he gushed, it can expand even more, with the industrial-strength US General Pro Top Chest

 

…and the super-tough 7-Drawer End Cabinet.

 Whatever your work or hobby, the US General tool cabinets and carts are the best values you’re going to find. A lot of folks try saying that about their cabinets, but they don’t quite live up to the combination of solid construction and low prices you’ll find at Harbor Freight. Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it, or even the testimony of a magazine. Just go on the site and read the dozens of reviews given by the customers who use them every day. They pretty much all say the same thing as this owner of the 13-drawer cabinet:

“I have shopped around for a new tool cabinet for quite some time, and this is by far (very far, actually) the best value I have found. The reviews confirmed what I had already seen in the stores, so buying this beauty was a no-brainer.

The cabinet is very well built, and the sheet metal is a much heavier gauge than the competition. The large top drawer and the two deep bottom drawers have a double guide set-up to carry some extra weight, which is a very nice touch when you have to store heavy tools. They’ll load it for you at the store, but you better ask a friend to come over and help you unload this sucker or you might get hurt! When I unloaded mine, I had to remove all the drawers to even be able to slide it to the tailgate.

I bought it to put my mini-mill on, and I was a bit worried about how the 44″ span above the top drawer would do with a 150 lbs mill on it. I cut a piece of 3/4″ plywood as a bench top, put the mill on it, and the cabinet didn’t budge one bit. I had planned to bolt the cabinet to the wall to make the setup more rigid, but I didn’t have to, it was solid as a rock after locking the casters. However, it does have threaded holes (for the handle) on both sides, so it would be very easy to add wall brackets if I ever decide to do so.

The handles have paper labels with plastic covers, a nice feature for us who want to keep things organized.

I’m pretty picky with everything I buy for my shop, and usually try to stick with the “pro brand” stuff. However, this cabinet blows the competition plumb out of the water. A similar unit from the big brands would run at least three times more, and would still not be the same quality. Granted, I haven’t compared with the top-of-the-line professional brands, but it sure beats everything I have found in the department stores and home improvement stores.”  TN Gunsmith

The HFT ’67 Firebird Restoration Project: Part 2 – Disassembly!

Welcome to the second installment of the Harbor Freight Tools 1967 Firebird Restoration Project. As previously noted, HFT invited Jeff Tann– car enthusiast and former Rod & Custom editor–to fully restore the legendary muscle car using only low-priced tools sold at Harbor Freight. The car is all original, with a 400/325-hp V8 engine, so he’s basically tackling the project “from scratch.”

In Part 1, we were introduced to the vehicle, inside and out, and presented Jeff’s challenge. In this segment we watch the dismantling process. As Dr. Albert Hirsch had to break down David Webb before he could build Jason Bourne, so Jeff has to take apart the old, battle-weary Firebird before he can build… a classic, hotter Firebird!

To get the ball rolling, his garage was equipped with a U.S. General 700 lb. Capacity 5-Drawer Rolling Tool Cart, which was stocked with a Pittsburgh Professional 301-Piece Mechanic’s Tool Kit. Also used in this segment, the Central Pneumatic 3/8″ Professional Air Ratchet and 1/4″ Mini Air Ratchet Wrench.

During the display, it was suggested that you should keep the bolts, nuts, washers, etc., for each portion together in ziplock bags– and who doesn’t have a horror story that supports that?

Stay tuned… the best stuff’s still ahead!

Mega Cool Tool Cabinet Project

When I was a kid, around the holidays, I always got excited for the Sears “Wish List” catalog. When it finally came, I would carry it off into my room and go over each page carefully, like a monk poring over the scriptures, carefully marking each treasure I really, really wanted (the BB gun and mini bike got circled every year… finally got the BB gun). That magic feeling’s faded over the years, and now that I’m an adult, I tend to harbor a more pragmatic view of what I can and can’t have. The tummy just doesn’t twitter anymore… until I saw a post last week in The Garage Journal:

A forum member with the moniker “blasto9000″ submitted pictures of a project he recently completed, bolting three US General 44″ 13-Drawer Roller Cabinets together– essentially building a 39-drawer supermax workbench!

I Want!

Since the uneven floor in his garage was an unsuitable spot for the rolling cabinets, he first removed the casters, cut various-lengthed legs and capped them with leveling feet to match the floor’s contour. To bring the tool cabinets together, he left the side handles off and bolted the cabinets together with cut lengths of T-slot.

The original idea was to build the rack out of hot-roll steel, but as 80/20 is around the same price, and a lot easier to work with (plus, if you make a mistake, you can just unbolt it and re-do), he chose that instead.All the cuts were done with a cutoff saw, much like the Chicago Electric 3-1/2 HP 14″ Cut-Off Saw.

Here’s a list of the materials used:

1010 extrusion, 96″, 8 pcs.
1030 extrusion, 36″, 1 pc.
6-hole joining plate p/n 4166, 6 pcs.
End fastener p/n 3681, 12 pcs.
Leveling foot p/n 2192, 12 pcs.
1/4-20 x 0.5″ BHSCP, (a lot)
Economy tee nuts (a lot)
M6x1.0 cap screw, 12 pcs.
M6 nuts and washers, 12 pcs.
1/4-20 plug tap (2 flute), 1 ea.

It’s impressive how this guy kept the parts at a minimum– clean and efficient!

The construction is basically three 42×18″ rectangular hoops that the tool cabs sit on, held together using end fasteners. The hoops sit on the legs, which are 1030 extrusion (1×3″ cross section), and then the hoops have screws going through them radially, and attach to axially drilled/tapped holes in the legs. The hoops are 1″ extrusion– two of them each– sitting on 3″ extrusion, which leaves 1″ in the middle. This is where the vertical members are joined and covered by the 6-hole joining plate.

Here is the suggested order of assembly:

Build 42×18″ hoops, cut legs, drill/tap legs, and assemble into the base frame.
Install rear (wall facing) uprights with M6 studs protruding.
Level rack to the floor.
Take a leak, so you don’t piss your pants during the next maneuver.
Empty tool cab and lay on the frame using armstrong method.
Slide tool cab onto the M6 studs.
Install front vertical member.
Rinse, repeat.

“The HF tool cabs are very well-made and easily the best value in tool storage,” he said. “When I built the 80/20 framing I cut all members to precise length.  I was afraid there would be some variance in the size of the tool cabs, but they are all EXACTLY the same size, and the hole locations (for the handles) are in the exact same place. That made the job go a lot easier.”

The remarkably talented Blasto9000 came up with the original design while sitting in his car, stuck in Los Angeles traffic.

 

The Domesticated Tool Cart

I was puttering around the house last Saturday, when I heard my wife in the other room suddenly burst out, “That’s CUTE!” I assumed she found another pair of shoes or a purse on sale, or maybe one of those Cape Cod beach houses only a Kennedy could afford. But then she hurried in, gripping a magazine. “Isn’t that CUTE??!” she asked (rhetorically, I hoped), holding the mag open in my face. And there it was…

In their June 2012 issue, Better Homes & Gardens featured the U.S. General 350 lb. Locking Drawer Tool Cart as an addition for a home organization project:

“A tool cart is a good home for bulky items, plus you can use it as a service station or bar.”

Not to mention that it’s a good-looking and affordable alternative to organizers at those shi shi “home” stores. Huh… using a Harbor Freight tool cabinet for kitchen design, or a design idea for any room in the house. I get it.

And the wife got it.

People Love Our Tool Carts!

Johnny Hunkins, editor of Popular Hot Rodding magazine, posted a great article on his blog about Harbor Freight’s tool carts. He recently visited our QA facility in Calabasas, CA and was impressed with the thoroughness of our tool testing. He says, “it dawned on me that Harbor Freight Tools were not only ‘adequate’, but even preferable.” Thanks, Johnny!

portable tool cart

This sturdy and super strong tool cart can hold up to 700 lbs!

He pointed out the US General 5-drawer portable tool cart (SKU #95272).  The US General tool cart was actually one of dozens of products he got to sample side-by-side with products that are generally much more expensive. This sturdy and super strong tool cart can hold up to 700 lbs. of tools, yet you can easily roll it to your work area so you’ll have everything you need within reach. It has steel construction and a powder-coated enamel finish that resists rust. All its drawers have ball-bearing rails for smooth opening.

Harbor Freight is in fact rolling out or revamping hundreds of their tools with the highest level of quality in mind for the most affordable price. It’s nice to see people take note of our quality tools and to hear from some of our fans.