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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. We’ll take an in-depth look at some of the most popular Snap On tool box products and discuss what sets each apart. We’ll also explore some alternatives from DECKED if you decide Snap-On is not the best storage solution.

Interior of a Snap-On tool box

Let’s address the elephant in the room. Snap-On tool boxes are really expensive. You get what you pay for, but you need to be prepared for a high price tag if you're looking to invest in a Snap-On or equivalent tool storage.

Snap-On Combination Tool Chests

Snap-On combination tool chests and rolling tool chests set the standard of storage for well-equipped mechanic shops. Essentially tool lockers on wheels, these units break apart into individual components 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 and are built to last.

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

Snap-On has been making tool chests and tool cabinets for generations.  Units Manufactured before WWII are still available and useable but considerably more expensive than new stock because they're collector pieces. 

Many Snap On tool boxes have a modular design. Different components are designed to function together and give you exactly the kind of tool storage 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. The flat top allows a top box to be placed on the roller cabinet, and smooth sides enable side cabinet compatibility. The wheels work best on smooth flooring, so these cabinets are for moving tools in the shop and not for taking them outside.

Bottom of wheeled tool chest

Top Box

A top box goes on the bottom box 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 and 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 the width and depth match your bottom box closely.

Side Cabinet

A side cabinet or side box mounts to the side of a combination tool chest. They can 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 a top and bottom box sold at the same time. It's basically 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. They don't offer outdoor mobility or weather protection. For those, you’ll have to move away from the Snap-On brand to something like a DECKED system, 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 organize your tools and won’t need to bring them outside the shop, a Snap On tool box could be a great choice. It won’t be cheap, but you 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. They spend a great deal of time and money researching and developing these tool boxes and the results are reflected in their reputation as industry leaders.

Snap-On tool boxes are very secure. Their locking drawers will keep would-be thieves away from your tools.

Large red Snap-On combination tool box

 

There are optional features like rechargeable LED lights and charging stations for power tools, cell phones, and laptops. 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.

No matter what you have to store securely and keep organized, you can 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.

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
 

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 and consists of a wheeled bottom box with several full and half-length drawers and a large top box.

 

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 earlier ones.

Snap On Classic 78 tool box

Snap On Classic 78 tool box

Snap on has sold this tool box for decades. New units sell in the $6,500 range while used ones can be found for slightly less than that. Its long tenure is evidence of a timeless design.

DECKED drawer system, unmounted

 

The DECKED Drawer System – A Mobile Tool Chest Alternative

Not all of us can keep our tools conveniently corralled in a workshop. If you take your tools to work, you’ll need something with more mobility than a Snap On tool box.

The DECKED Drawer System mounts into a pickup truck or work van and organizes tools without sacrificing the vehicle's cargo carrying capacity. Each of the drawers holds up to 200 pounds and supports an additional 2,000 lb payload capacity directly on top of the system. The system is weatherproof, locks securely, and features ball-bearings for smooth deployment even at full weight capacity.

The DECKED Drawer System includes modular accessories for fine tuning the system for specific organizational needs. Cargo dividers and tool boxes like the DECKED Crossbox and DECKED D-Box turn your truck into a mobile Snap-On tool box and provide a permanent place for gear to live. All of the accessories remove from the system for easy transportation into a job site.

accessories for DECKED drawer system

The DECKED Drawer System fits nearly all modern pickup trucks and most cargo vans.

 

 DECKED Tool Box with retractable ladder

 

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

The DECKED Tool Box mounts behind a pickup truck’s cab. The high-impact resin shell features extensive aluminum and steel reinforcing for extreme durability and security. The completely waterproof DECKED Tool Box locks to keep your gear safe from unwanted access and for peace of mind when working away from the vehicle.

How does the DECKED Tool Box compare with a Snap-On tool box? It 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 for very different applications.

 

DECKED Tool Box, open

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