So I walked into Lowe’s about a month ago and spotted a new Kobalt Steel Tool Chest with Pioneer Stereo System. Something was different about it. It was blue – no big deal there, but it had a strange door with no handle on the top right side of the top tool chest. Pushing it open I was greeted to the reveal of a Pioneer Stereo. Alas, had Kobalt finally unveiled a new tool chest with an integrated stereo that was slightly more manageable than their 53-inch behemoth stainless steel product?
Indeed they had.
I made a quick call to my contact at Kobalt, and within a few days we were unloading the new tool chest and matching cabinet into the workshop of a local friend who works as the President of an inner city ministry. What better place to test it out than his workshop which has actually never seen a tool chest newer than a 1970’s Craftsman with rusty drawer pulls. This was going to be fun on a number of levels.
The folks at Lowe’s were extremely helpful in getting the two huge boxes onto our F-250 Super Duty pickup and we made the trek to the shop with no difficulties. From my last experience with Kobalt, I knew the company packages their tool chests pretty securely, so I instructed my friend to hit the railroad tracks pretty hard to test out the durability of the styrofoam containment system… alas, my friend wasn’t that daring. Truth be told, we could have been hit by a train and I’m pretty sure the steel tool chests would have been just fine. There are limits to what we’ll test, however.
Kobalt Steel Tool Chest with Pioneer Stereo System Features
Getting back to the workshop we quickly tore open the boxes and removed the packaging. There is some assembly required – namely, the immense 5-inch casters which have to be bolted onto the bottom of the 6-Drawer Tool Cabinet. I love these casters. They are oversized, so you’re not going to have any difficulty moving the unit around as needed – even when it’s full of tools. Additionally, the two front casters lock both in terms of their ability to roll, and in their ability to rotate. This gives you a completely secure lock and so you can park and forget the tool cabinet without worry of it drifting around on you. Once we had the casters in place, we flipped the Tool Cabinet upright and rolled it into lace, preparing to life the Tool Chest atop and nestle it into position as well.
Each unit is keyed separately, as you’d guess. Once everything was assembled it was a great time to take a general look at everything and get our bearings. First off, the entire cabinet is made of double-walled steel and is incredibly strong. The integrated 4-outlet power supply is located on the right side of the cabinet and is very useful for plugging in power tools and devices that will fall under 10-amps of draw. While you can plug the top cabinet into the bottom cabinet’s outlet strip, we decided to use both of the wall outlet plugs behind the cabinet in order to free up the full power supply since it was more convenient to access.
The drawer slides seemed robust, with ball bearing mechanisms that allowed for a relatively easy pull. Each drawer is rated to 99 lbs. Capacity which should be plenty for just about anything that’s likely to get tossed into this cabinet. On each side of the lower and upper cabinets is a recessed sure grip handle for when you need to grab and maneuver the tool chest around. The Kobalt Blue powder coat finish was nice and the only thing that disturbed it was the profuse amount of stickers that Kobalt placed all over the cabinet. These would be fine – if they came off… but they don’t. We attempted to peel a few back and ended up making a real mess of things. In the future we’d love to see them simply use a plastic adhesion-free solution. It may cost them a few cents more, but it will allow users to get rid of the marketing stickers without destroying the look of their tool chest.
Aside from that, we love that Kobalt continues to include, and pre-install, their customized drawer liners that perfectly fit the tool box and chest and protect it against damage and leaks, as well as give your tools a nice grippy surface on which to lie. They also include a PVC cover, but as we’re not working in a communal shop, this is more for the auto guys who really tend to take care of their tool chests like it was their vehicle.
The Pioneer Stereo System
Our favorite part of the review came when it was time to crank up the tunes. Having a great Kobalt Steel Tool Chest with Pioneer Stereo System is one thing, but being able to safely store and organize your tools while listening to jamming tunes is a whole other deal. The stereo speakers are housed in the top of the tool chest, while the head unit, a Pioneer stereo with detachable face, is located behind the right-most top drawer. It’s accessed by pressing on the top right of the drawer which opens the door to allow it to hinge downwards. The stereo is a basic model that includes AM/FM/CD and Aux controls. Here’s where it gets good – Kobalt included an iPod docking cable and remote with this system. On top of that, the door to the stereo can be closed and remote will point through a plastic access in the door to control the stereo – the range of use isn’t all that wide, but it works.
AM/FM reception of Kobalt Steel Tool Chest with Pioneer Stereo System was decent, but we definitely enjoyed the ability to dock our iPhone to the system and dial in our playlists. Queuing up some of our favorite tunes, we experimented with the different EQ modes available on the Pioneer head unit. Overall, the sound was pretty good unless we turned it way up. At that point there was noticeable distortion – something that’s common when you’re not using a high-end head unit or separate amplifier. I suppose that if you were motivated, it wouldn’t be all that hard to intercept the signal from the head unit and run it through an outboard amp to get better sound – but we’ll leave that for another day!
Kobalt Steel Tool Chest with Pioneer Stereo System with Pioneer Stereo System is a HUGE win in our book. It features the winning combination of tool chest and stereo that made the 53-inch Stainless Steel model such an incredible product, but does the most important stuff at a price and size that is more approachable by mere mortals (plus, uh… we’ve already got a fridge in that workshop, lol). Because it’s built fairly well for the money we give it an 8/10 for Performance and it scores an easy 9/10 for Value in our book as well. Considering you can get a 35-inch full-size tool storage unit with a radio built-in for less than $800 – this is a real attractive buy – plus you can buy either the top or the bottom separately for $395. This product is also so new that we couldn’t even find it on the Lowe’s website, let alone Kobalt’s own product website. Get yourself into the store however and you can track it down. It’s a great product and one that will make any shed or workshop a better place for having it.
With fiscal year 2008 sales of $48.2 billion, Lowe’s Companies, Inc. is a FORTUNE 50 company that serves approximately 14 million customers a week at more than 1,675 home improvement stores in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1946 and based in Mooresville, N.C., Lowe’s is the second-largest home improvement retailer in the world. For more information, visit Lowes.com or kobalttools.com.