Sunday, March 9, 2014
As I near the end of the E36 restoration effort and my interests turn to more important matters, like making a living in an increasingly hostile business climate, I'm largely done acquiring tools to support my BMWs. However, for many years I've wanted to buy a larger tool cabinet to store and organize my tools because stuffing tools haphazardly into the tiny cabinet I inherited from my father has often contributed to time wasted searching for the right tool and accounting for my tools when the job is done. This is, after all, why the pros obsessively line up all their screwdrivers, sockets, and wrenches in their huge cabinets.
So when my brother told me he was headed to Harbor Freight yesterday and had planned to take one of his cargo vans I decided to tag along with the intent of buying one of their popular 13 drawer tool cabinets. Before they started selling really well years ago there were stories of people bringing in a 25% off super coupon and walking out the door with one for only $250. As the price has risen due in large part to its popularity it isn't quite the bargain anymore but it remains a steal relative to anything I've found anywhere else. In fact I wound up paying $10 less than the circular price, which was about 50% off the (ridiculously inflated) MSRP.
Two guys at the store stripped the skid from the cabinet at my request and loaded it into the van for us. Back home at the garage my brother and I extracted the unit from the van more by tilting it down off the truck vs. physically carrying it, as the shipping weight was 250 lbs and neither one of us wanted us to take a trip to the hospital. With the unit stripped of the remaining shipping materials I found it to be in good shape cosmetically with no dents or scratches so I rolled it into its resting place and began the process of transferring my tools to their new home. The first perk I noticed during this process is the wider top drawer easily accepts my largest torque wrench.
The drawers roll smoothly and seat with a nice soft detent, are full extension, and come equipped with thin foam liners. One of the liners was missing but rather than go back to HF I've decided to pick up a roll of the stuff at Eppy's. The casters appear to be a sand cast metal surrounded by a hard nylon that doesn't appear to compress when the cabinet is loaded. The unit also includes a textured rubber mat to protect the top surface, which is a nice touch. And while I don't typically need to worry about security I'm not the only one with a key to my garage so one thing I love about this box is that it has something my old cabinet lacked -- a sturdy key lock.
It goes without saying that this cabinet doesn't match the quality of a SnapOn or Matco box but then I'd question the sanity of anyone -- professional or not -- who would pay the ransom they want for those units. The HF cabinet strikes a very reasonable balance between quality and price, particularly for the cost-conscious, casual user like me, so I have to give this two thumbs up. If you want to buy one, here's a tip: call the branch(es) around you to check stock before you head out. Don't bother with the 800 number listed in the circular as that will only lead you to a customer service rep who will tell you they can't track store inventory.