Kobalt Tools is redefining “value” with its newest line of stainless steel tool chests. We took a look at their 27-inch model with 5 drawer chest and 6 drawer roller cabinet and were soundly impressed by its construction quality, attention to detail and comprehensive features. This tool chest will quickly become one of your favorite tools in and of itself, and anyone not familiar with Kobalt’s tool storage products will want to take a closer look at what is offered.
We selected the 27-inch stacking tool chest because it represented what we felt was the best bang for the buck in Kobalt’s line-up. It’s priced within reason for mere mortals (reachable by both professionals and hobbyists alike) and includes some features we think will impress and be practical for most types of consumers. While our selection is stainless steel, Kobalt actually makes this product in Black as well (for a savings of over $230), and similar products can be had in Blue and Red steel.
I loved the packaging of the Kobalt stainless steel tool chest and roller cabinet. This system is actually able to be purchased individually as two pieces, though we highly recommend getting them both as they are a perfect match and really complement each other. Don’t expect to throw this set into the back of your SUV. In all likelihood you’re going to need a pickup truck to get these home due to the size of the boxes. When we tore open the packaging, both the 5-Drawer Tool Chest and 6-Drawer Roller Cabinet were wrapped completely in plastic. To protect the unit further during shipping, each also had an ample amount of styrofoam surrounding the stainless steel body. To keep everything simple in terms of shipment, the casters, hardware, keys, cover, and drawer liners were contained within the drawers of the roller cabinet and tool chest. For the roller cabinet, the plastic molded work top was also separate and needed to be set on top and screwed fast. This enabled Kobalt to ship a tight, rectangular carton. We set to work almost immediately, removing the packaging and exposing the tool cabinets.
Because the two parts of this assembly are separated, we decided to install the casters before doing much else. It would make no sense to install the top tool chest or affix the molded work top when we needed to tip the roller cabinet over to fasten the wheels. First off, these are oversized, industrial-grade 5-inch casters. I’ve seen piano dollies with smaller, less-capable wheels – these are very heavy duty. Each wheel attaches via four oversized, machine-threaded bolts that utilize a hex wrench to drive them home. We noticed a brass grease fitting on the swivel base and axle of each caster, providing for two key lubrication points. Two of the casters can be locked and the mechanism which accomplishes this not only stops the wheel, but also prevents swiveling to ensure the base is completely stationary for use.
Build Quality & Features
The construction quality of this tool chest is above par. Starting from the top down, we first noticed the stainless steel casing. Kobalt uses a double-walled construction method that selects the popular 430 grade of Stainless steel, similar to that found in refrigerator cabinet panels and the interior linings of high-end dishwashers. It’s not a welded unit, but is definitely comparable to any mid-line tool chest we’ve seen on the market. Higher end units will typically use 304 grade stainless, which is a bit more robust and typically found in 18 and 20 gauge thicknesses.
Tech Note on Grade 430 Stainless Steel:
Grade 430 is a straight chromium, ferritic, non-hardenable grade of stainless steel. It features excellent corrosion resistance and can even resist nitric acid, making it quite useful in chemical applications. You will most often find this grade of stainless steel in use with durable automotive trim and appliance components.
Lifting the lid we noticed the gas lift shocks, which allowed easy opening and closing of the tool chest. It also keeps the lid from slamming up at full force when opened. For anyone not familiar with how these chests work, the lid unlocks the drawers when opened, so it’s helpful to have a smooth action on such an important and oft-used mechanism. The pneumatic shocks are fastened to the lid interior via a bracket that is pop-riveted to the stainless steel interior and bolted to the actual shock itself. The mechanism seems to be a good balance between light weight and sturdiness. Some people will complain about pop rivets since they aren’t as secure as a weld, however all of the rivets we examined were inside the box and didn’t provide any sort of access point for would-be thieves.
The drawers open easily and have a soft close so they don’t bottom out. This gives them a nice feel, but also made it occasionally hard to tell when they were completely seated. This was only an issue when closing the lid and locking up the tool chest, or locking the bottom cabinet. Sometimes, the locking mechanism didn’t grab all the drawers properly, leaving some unlocked. I found that seating the drawers with a little push solved the issue and the lock caught each one properly. We liked the ball-bearing glide mechanism, but noted quite a bit of play when the drawers were fully extended. I’m not sure that this will cause any major issues, and we certainly loaded down the box with no adverse effects, but this is one areas that could stand to be beefed up.
Kobalt includes its branded rubberized drawer liners with its tool chest and roller cabinet. These are blue inserts that did well to provide protection and grip for your tools as they laid inside the drawers. Since they are precut and designed for these tool boxes, you can skip the aftermarket solutions and hassle of making a custom solution perfectly fit your drawers.
The locking mechanism is your standard tubular pin tumbler lock, which is less secure than a standard key, but typical for many tool chests. And let’s face it, I haven’t seen too many tool chest locks picked in my time. The mechanism worked smoothly when all the drawers were seated and it was easy to lock and unlock the tool chest as needed. This provides a nice secondary line of security for those who have a garage or shed where their tools are housed.
There are a couple special features on the Kobalt 6-Drawer Roller Cabinet that I hadn’t seen on too many other products. The most obvious was the 4-outlet surge protector which sits on the right side of the cabinet and allows you to plug in devices up to its 15A limit. We found that extremely useful as we’re always running out of outlets in the work shed where the tool chest and roller cabinet are stored. Another nice feature was the presence of four accessory hooks (two on each section) which allowed for the hanging of various items including extension cords, hand saws and more. When not in use, they are spring-loaded and fold flat.
The Kobalt 27-inch Stainless Steel Tool Chest and Roller Cabinet is a very well-built and rugged combination for what we would describe as medium- to heavy-duty use. While the ball-bearing slides had a bit of wobble, they never faltered during our testing, even when we loaded up the largest drawer with about 125 pounds of electrical wiring and cables. Smaller drawers seemed to do just fine with socket kits, hand tools, and more. We even dedicated a drawer solely for hammers and cold chisels – now that’s some weight! I think the durable finish of these tool boxes, heavy-duty casters, integrated surge protector/outlet strip, and ball-bearing drawer slides make it a very “meaty” product that is sure to satisfy both the homeowner and professional alike. The included cover and drawer liners are just icing on the cake. In terms of our Performance rating, we scored it a solid 8/10. In terms of Value we ranked it against the competition and it did even better, coming in at 9/10 which qualifies it for our Editor’s Choice award. You could do a lot worse than picking up this tool chest – in fact, we doubt you can do much better.