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Is A Snap On Tool Box Worth Buying? If Not, What Is?

Is A Snap On Tool Box Worth Buying? If Not, What Is?

Is a Snap-On tool box worth the money? Will it protect your tools and gear properly? Will it do everything you need it to? Maybe. Maybe not. Here, we’ll take an in-depth look at some of the most popular Snap On tool box products, and what sets each apart as a good or bad buy. We’ll also explore some alternatives from DECKED which might be a better fit if you decide Snap-On is not the way to go.

Interior of a Snap-On tool box

Let’s get straight to the elephant in the room, though. Snap-On tool boxes can be really expensive. This is not necessarily a negative feature, but it is one you really need to be prepared for if you are looking to invest in Snap-On or equivalent quality tool storage.

Snap-On Combination Tool Chests

Snap-On combination tool chests and rolling tool chests set the standard for a well-equipped mechanic’s workshop or repair bay. Seen by many as a kind of tool locker on wheels, these units sometimes break apart into individual components (outlined below) or operate as one-piece tool storage solutions.

A typical Snap-On combination tool chest will hold at least 100 pounds of tools safely and securely. They are made of sturdy steel for the most part, and are built to last

Why Are There So Many Kinds Of Snap On Tool Boxes Available?

Several reasons. One is that Snap-On has been making tool chests and tool cabinets for generations, and they are truly built to last. You can find used units in excellent shape that were manufactured before WWII, though a collector’s piece like that would be even more expensive than a new one. They have made many different models over the years.

Another reason for the diversity of Snap On tool boxes is that many of them have a modular design. Different components are designed to be mixed and matched to give you exactly the kind of tool storage situation you need. The types of modular units can be broken down into five main types:

Bottom Box

A bottom box, also called a roller cabinet, can be used as a stand-alone wheeled tool chest. Most types have many drawers on the front, but no top access at all. The flat top allows an intermediate box or top box to be placed above the roller cabinet, and benefit from its mobility. Likewise, its smooth sides may allow the mounting of one or more side cabinets. The wheels work best only on smooth, hard flooring. This is a cabinet for wheeling tools around in the shop, not for taking them outside.

Bottom of wheeled tool chest

Top Box

A top box goes on top of a bottom box, possibly with an intermediate box or two in between. Top boxes do not have wheels at all. The typical configuration of a top box features a hinged lid as well as several front-facing drawers. Most also mount a handle at the top, and can be used independently of a combination tool chest system. 

Middle Cabinet

A middle cabinet or intermediate box is positioned on top of a bottom box, but offers a second flat top. You can then mount further intermediate boxes or a top box on the intermediate box. If you are buying an intermediate box as a separate piece and not as part of a set, make sure its width and depth both match your bottom box closely.

Side Cabinet

A side cabinet or side box mounts, as you might expect, on the side of a combination tool chest. They can often be purchased in pairs, to better balance the weight over the wheeled bottom box.

Combo Unit

A combo unit or combination box is a matched set of top box and bottom box, sold at the same time. It is essentially a combination tool chest starter kit.  

Black and red wheeled snap-on tool box

All of these Snap-On component parts and combination sets share a few features in common. They organize your tools effectively, keep them safe, and let you move them around the concrete floor of a workshop. What they don’t offer is outdoors mobility or weather protection. For those, you’ll have to move away from the Snap-On brand to someone like DECKED. But we’ll talk more about that later.

DECKED drawer system in a Dodge Ram

Should You Buy A Snap-On Tool Box?

If you need a sturdy, secure, and convenient way to protect and organize a large tool collection or a similarly-sized collection of gear, and won’t need to bring most of your tools outside the shop for any one job, a Snap On tool box could be a great choice. It won’t be cheap – even the used models cost a non-casual amount of money because they still have decades of service left in them. But you will generally get what you pay for with this brand. 

Small red Snap-On tool box 

Why You Might Like Owning A Snap-On Tool Box

Though they cost thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars, Snap On tool boxes are incredibly well engineered and built. They spend a great deal of time and money on research and development for these tool boxes, and the results are clear.

Snap-On tool boxes are very secure. Most have locking drawers, which are just as well-engineered as the rest of the case. Even if someone breaks into your shop, they might not be able to get at your tools. Just make sure you lock the one with the metal-cutting gear.

Large red Snap-On combination tool box

 

Many have features like rechargeable LED lights built in, as well as charging stations for power tools, cell phones, or even laptops and tablets. Depending on what modular units you select, they also offer a staggering array of different drawer sizes, cabinet options, and even vertical rack systems.

Finally, their iron-clad replace or repair warranties are legendary.

In summary, no matter what you have to store securely and keep organized, you can probably find a combination of Snap-On tool boxes to handle it. Just keep an eye on the price tag.

Why A Snap-On Tool Box Might Not Be The Best Choice

We’ve already talked about price, so we won’t beat a dead horse. The price isn’t unjustified, but it is very high.

However, A Snap On tool box will only work well for certain users. It is great for outfitting a permanent workshop, but you’d never want to use it to transport tools. You could have Snap-On tool chests built into the back of a specialized repair vehicle, but modding out a custom vehicle is a whole new stratum of expensive.

Man accessing a DECKED Drawer System tool storage drawer
 

No. If you need to move your tools and equipment more than 15 feet at a time, or plan on using them outside at all, you’ll need something else entirely.

Different Versions And Products In The Snap On Tool Box Line 

Snap On 100th anniversary tool box

Snap On 100th anniversary tool box

This is a somewhat rare collector’s item, so expect to pay a premium. It is 54 inches wide and 24 inches deep. It consists of a wheeled bottom box with several full and half-length drawers, as well as a large top box. 

Pink Snap On Mini tool box

Mini Snap On Tool Box

The mini Snap-On tool boxes, sometimes referred to as “micro” combo units, are just what they sound like. Very small versions of the classic Snap On combination tool chests in a smaller size. These are available in a wide range of colors including green, teal, orange, and purple, as well as the famous (or infamous) pink Snap On tool box.

These really are small, at just 8.5 inches wide, 4.5 inches deep, and 4.6 inches high. It really is more of a prop than a usable tool box. The manufacturer suggests keeping business cards and paper clips in it. 

Mr Big Snap-On tool box

Mr Big Snap On tool box

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the infamous Mr Big Snap On tool box. No longer manufactured, you’ll have to find one of these on the used market. Even then, expect to pay $10,000 or more for a unit in good condition.

Snap On Harley Davidson tool box

 

Snap On Harley Davidson tool box

The Snap-On Harley Davidson tool boxes have been popular since they were first introduced. The company regularly releases new versions. So you can buy the latest edition, or check your favorite auction site for one of the 20+ earlier versions.

Snap On Classic 78 tool box

Snap On Classic 78 tool box

This is an 11-drawer tool box that Snap-On has been making for longer than many of the people reading this have been alive. New units sell in the $6,500 range, and used ones in good condition can easily auction for 2/3 of that. It’s like a shark. Why change a design that people still want to buy?

DECKED drawer system, unmounted

 

The DECKED Drawer System – A Mobile Tool Chest Alternative

Not all of us can keep our work – or our play – conveniently corralled in a workshop. If you need to drive your tools to work instead of the other way around, you’ll need something much more mobile than a Snap On tool box.

The heart of the DECKED Drawer System is the drawer itself. Each of the two drawers are mounted at truck-bed height on a pick-up, SUV, or other similar vehicle. Each drawer can independently store up to 1000 pounds of tools or equipment, and opens smoothly even at full capacity.

Inside the drawers, you will find an array of smaller tool boxes and organizational pieces. These include large and small tool boxes like the DECKED Crossbox and DECKED D-Box, as well as trays and cargo dividers. Even more can be ordered along with the system. All of this together turns your truck into a Snap-On tool box on the go, delivering you and your equipment anywhere your truck can take you, and keeping you organized on the go.

accessories for DECKED drawer system

There are even different versions of the DECKED Drawer System designed to fit all of today’s most popular working vehicles perfectly.

The top of the unit then forms a raised bed cover which lets you use the vehicle for rough, heavy cargo without a thought for your actual truck bed, hidden safely underneath. The entire system is watertight and solidly lockable.

 

 DECKED Tool Box with retractable ladder

 

The DECKED Tool Box – An In-Bed Tool Box And Tool Organizer

The DECKED Tool Box is mounted behind a pick-up or other working truck’s cab. It is made of a durable, weatherproof, and secure high-impact plastic resin, but also features extensive aluminum and steel reinforcing. This all works together to make the DECKED Tool Box strong and waterproof, while the armored lock keeps your gear safe from unwanted access. When you’re on-site, protecting your tools is more important than ever.

How does the DECKED Tool Box compare with a Snap-On tool box? That all depends on how you use it. Frankly, if you were to stack the DECKED Tool Box on top of a Snap-On rolling base unit, you wouldn’t see the utility. In the same way, if you were to winch a Snap-On tool box onto the bed of your truck, you’d be very disappointed. Both do their jobs incredibly well, but they are very different jobs indeed.

 

DECKED Tool Box, open

With any luck, you have better insight into what Snap-On tool boxes do well, and where they lack utility. And of course, if you decide you’d be better served by a truly mobile tool or gear storage system, you know where to look!