Tool chests are a staple of the tool industry. You’ll see them in almost every shop from auto mechanics to woodworkers and everywhere in between. It’s a rite of passage. It’s an upgrade to your man card. Get the right one, and you’ll be the envy of your friends. Get a piece of junk, and you’ll be the subject of their jokes. So where in all that does the Milwaukee 46″ Tool Chest fit in?
I figure the best place to start will be to get the negatives out of the way. When I think of the things that I really don’t like on the Milwaukee 46″ Tool Chest it starts with…
Wait, give me a minute.
Okay, so it’s a non-existent list. I couldn’t find a single aspect of this tool storage system that I didn’t like. I guess that means I get to spend the rest of this review telling you how much I love this thing!
Milwaukee 46″ Tool Chest and Cabinet Appearance
The Milwaukee 46″ Tool Chest pairs with Milwaukee’s 46″ Cabinet to make the classic tool storage system. Obviously, the Milwaukee 46″ Tool Chest is… 46″ wide. Many of the tool chests and cabinets that we come across have a glossy finish. While that certainly would have been acceptable, Milwaukee went with a matte powder coated finish. It looks really good! Over the lifespan, this should help to subdue the appearance of scratches. At the same time it’s nice not to have a reflective glare. It also seems to clean up easily, and it doesn’t hold fingerprints like stainless steel.
Milwaukee 46″ Tool Chest and Cabinet Innovative Features
Whatever appears normal at first glance begins to quickly dissipate as you look around and open drawers. Built into both the tool chest and cabinet is a 6 outlet power strip, and I can barely begin to tell you how excited I am about those! I like to keep battery chargers in my top chest. That requires me to run an extension cord through a knockout in the back and provide a power strip that may or may not lay conveniently inside. With these already built in, I don’t have to think about it, I just have to plug it in.
The tool cabinet’s power strip is on the outside and leaves open other possibilities. You can mount chargers, run some corded tools, charge your phone, or stream music from your Milwaukee M18 Charging Radio.
You’ll also notice a metal peg wall against the back of the top chest. It’s a great place for storing screwdriver sets, nut drivers, or other hand tools so they stay organized. The pneumatic lid closes to offer 10.5″ of head clearance which is good enough for many cordless tools like Milwaukee’s M18 Brushless Drill and Impact Driver to be left standing up.
Milwaukee 46″ Tool Chest and Cabinet Drawer Design and Features
The eight drawers themselves are traditionally organized and sized on the top cabinet. The bottom left drawer also features a pull out work surface. I use the flat, metal top to hold my notebook, camera, and laptop while I’m working or reviewing tools. It’s also an outstanding (see what I did there?) feature to give you some temporary work space to supplement the top surface. The lid lifts to provide storage space below, so you’re not losing any storage capacity.
Rather than having long drawers in the bottom tool cabinet, Milwaukee gave us one wide shallow drawer on top and split the rest. The left side contains shallow, medium, and deep drawers about 2/3 the length. The right third of the chest boasts three shallow drawers and one deep one. The bottom right hand drawer features a power tool organizer that holds tools and batteries in place much the same way the Milwaukee 26″ Work Box does.
Each of the 8 drawers on the top chest have 100 pound capacities thanks to the drawer slides. 6 drawers on the tool cabinet have 100 pound capacities while the two larger ones can support up to 200 pounds. This gives the Milwaukee 46″ Tool Chest and Cabinet a combined 1800 pound capacity. You get 5″ industrial casters and reinforced angles on the iron frame to further improve durability.
Where the sheep and the goats are further separated can also be found in the drawer slides. We already looked at weight capacity, so I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the soft close feature of the drawers. The Milwaukee 46″ Tool Chest and Cabinet close so smoothly, you’d think Fred Astaire designed them. Each drawer slides as well as you’d hope. When a drawer is nearly shut, the soft close feature takes over. It gently pulls the drawer shut without any help from you and eliminates the slamming that often sends tools moving about. This works great for most tools, but I still haven’t found a solution to keep my sockets from falling over. Still, this is the smoothest, softest drawer closing I’ve ever experienced.
Going back to less capable tool storage chests after using the Milwaukee 46″ Tool Chest and Cabinet would be like downgrading from a Porsche to Geo Metro. I realize there are still the occasional Bugatti Veyron level tool chests on the market, but the value of the Milwaukee cabinet is what sets it apart. To impress me, someone is going to have to do awfully well because Milwaukee just set a new standard for what I can expect in tool storage solutions under $1000. I’m absolutely thrilled with the quality and design of this unit.
The Home Depot has these as the full Milwaukee 46″ Tool Chest and Cabinet System for $798. You can also pick up just the top tool cabinet for $349 or the bottom tool chest alone for $449. They’re out of stock online at the moment, but check your local store and snag one if there are any left!
The bottom line?
The Milwaukee 46″ Tool Chest and Cabinet as a system offers excellent tool storage capacity, outstanding durability, thoughtful design, and innovative features that are geared toward users who employ a combination of hand, power, and cordless tools. This is the tool storage system that everyone else is going to have to try and match in quality and features.