Wretched Excess IMO

I like quality tools as much as anyone else and have a pretty fair number of Snap-On tools but I’d have to draw a line in the sand on this one. Browsing eBay and saw this used rig priced at 22k dollars sans tools. Original price new 58+ grand. Even if he gets the 22 it would be gut wrenching to me anyway to eat 36 grand in depreciation.
I haven’t figured out how he can ship that tonnage for a 100 bucks and what any import fees might be.


I see these massive toolboxes various mechanics have and one question comes to mind…

How do you transport it, full off tools, to another shop?

When I raced cars, I rolled my 2-piece 26 wide, 18 deep, 56 tall Craftsman boxes right into my 20 foot enclosed trailer. It took more than a little effort to roll it up the ramp door into the trailer. This rig, if it wasn’t too tall, would require a winch, and maybe a heavier trailer!

I believe people buy such expensive tools and storage equipment for “prestige”, similar to the reason why people buy expensive clothes, handbags, etc. when cheaper alternatives will do the same exact thing for a lot less.

Of course, I am not claiming that Craftsman, Husky, etc. are exactly the same quality as Snap-On, surely they are not. However, one can buy tools and tool storage chests which are nearly as good, for less than 1/3 the price.

Due to this fact, prestige-brand tools and storage chests have a very steep depreciation on the used market. I have taken advantage of this, and purchased a few used Snap-On and MAC tools online for basically the same price I would have paid for a new Craftsman/Husky/Kobalt version of the tool.


My dad has a double cabinet with all car tools.
He bought a similar setup from retired friend who was a machinist.
I don’t know 90% of stuff in unit #2
He says I can have them all. But I have no room.
I’d say about 1/2 of what is pictured.

Mechanical Systems at work buys Snap-On tool boxes, but nothing that big. They do spend for computer control, though. I suspect it’s for FOD control more than tool loss, and this is really at the suggestion of QA. In case you don’t know, the computer tool control system notices that tools aren’t in their spot in the drawer, and provide an alert.

This setup was $12,000 brand new in 2001.

The box you pictured doesn’t look that much newer than mine.

Lock all the drawers and your local towing company will flatbed it anywhere you want. The upper and lower boxes are all bolted together (or at least they are meant to be). Or for a box my size 3 guys can get a running start and push it onto a U-haul trailer.

No, I buy them for quality. I have Craftsman, Mac, and Snap-On boxes. I bought my big box in 2001. In 20 years of daily service (8 of them as a shop toolbox with 3 guys going in and out of the drawers all day) I have only had to replace one drawer slide and two lift struts. I have never cleaned or lubed anything. The paint has held up beautifully and the drawers still slide with one finger. I have a 3/8" air ratchet that I bought in 1996 that has never been sent for repair and still works fine. Harbor Freight tools don’t last like that.

Yup. A guy at work bought a US General roll cab the same size as my roll cab. The shipping weight was just over 600 lbs, the Snap-On is just under 1,000 lbs. I showed him where he can expect the welds to start to separate if he overloads the top drawer. His box won’t last like mine but it cost a lot less. Half the quality for a third of the price is a good deal for many people.


I understand and appreciate high quality tools and equipment. For the repairs I can handle, the 3/8" Husky socket set I bought with S&H Green Stamps over 50 years ago handled the repairs I felt comfortable doing.on my vehicles, lawnmowers and other equipment. I did purchase a deep well spark plug wrench to go with the set and a swivel joint. If a repair is going to take a specialized tool, I hire a professional to do the job.
I had an international graduate student over 30 years ago that wanted to buy a Fluke voltmeter as a present for her brother. He was studying to be an electrical engineer. I had never heard of a Fluke voltmeter, but I found a local electronic store that catered to radio and television technicians that sold these voltmeters. I was always able to repair my own vacuum tube equipment with a cheap VOM. If I earned my living as an electronic engineer, the expensive voltmeter might be in order.
I compare tools with horns. I played in orchestras and concert bands for years with what other horn players regarded as a 'student level horn. I did upgrade about 25 years ago and 6 months ago, I did buy a really professional level horn. It really has a nice feel, so I can understand professional mechanics wanting high quality tools.

1 Like

I’ve got 4 boxes; all about 40ish years old. The biggest roll a round and top chest that MAC made at the time along with 2 even older Craftsman roll a rounds. Total cost of the Craftsman boxes was a 100 bucks at 50 each (well used at the time in the early 80s) and they are heavy. The MAC boxes I have about 800 dollars in.
They have all served me well for decades and still do in a different millennium. There has never been a broken weld, drawer slide, or any other issue with any of them in spite of some serious overloading.

I hate debt of any kind and those boxes are apparently going to all outlive me so it’s win-win. I would balk at some brands like the U.S. General mentioned or a few other unmentionables.

1 Like

when I was about 20 I had a extra 1970 camaro hood that a friend wanted. he traded me a 1 year old craftman rollaway for it. my son has it now. I think it was a good trade at the time being I got the hood for free.

1 Like

Is that a tool box or a fort?

I completely get that. Back in my horn days I spent years playing a godawful old King baritone. Moving from that to a new Besson compensating euph was like going from an unsprung buckboard to a Rolls Royce.

As long as we are talking tools, you just can’t have too many. I went to the flea market put on by the Gas and Steam Power club last weekend. What did I find? A set of roll pin punches, brand new for $10. Taryl the small engine guy talked about them but I had never seen them before. Can’t wait to use them. What I really wanted was a huge spring puller needed to drop the trans on my lawn mower. After breaking two pullers I made, a piece of pipe and some hooks got the spring back on.

That looks like an old Craftsman box in the left of the picture. I’ve got the same bottom piece (if it is craftsman). When I worked at a scrapyard in Tupelo, MS a tornado went through part of the city. A guy came in with several of those Craftsman tool boxes all dented, etc. I picked the best one out, knocked a dent out of the top, and swapped a drawer or two from one of the other boxes to make one decent box. Wow, I’m cheap haha! Actually, it works out pretty well. It rolls right under my shop table and out of the way. It gets extra points for having survived both a tornado and a scrap yard, so I’ll have to hang on to it. Nowhere near the quality of SnapOn, but I’m nowhere near the quality of mechanic as an asemaster, either, so it works out well!

1 Like

I worked with a guy who would own nothing unless it was Snap On branded. We were in the import building and the other building was Pontiac/GMC.

One weekend someone broke in to the key closet. They backed a new GMC truck into the building, rolled all of the tool boxes up to the truck and made off with everyone’s top chest. Never got caught.

The dealer refused to allow his insurance to pay for a dime of the tool loss. Some techs quit in anger and others had to borrow money to replace what was taken.
The Snap On guy got hurt worst of all. He had to take out a 5 figure loan to replace the top chest and the basic tools (wrenches, sockets, ratchets, etc) that were taken. This meant due to inflation he was having to spend about triple what he had bought it all for originally.

I like VW’s method. They have a unit room where all special tools and engine/trans works is done. Every day at quitting time all tool boxes are rolled in there and the double doors are locked. If someone wants in then once they are in the building they are going to have to work their way through a latch big enough to anchor a battleship and 2.5" thick steel doors.

I would have not only quit the job, but filed a lawsuit against the employer. Their business insurance is, in fact, legally responsible if employee tools stored on their premises are stolen due to a burglary. The fact that the dealer was more concerned with a possible insurance rate increase than their employees’ livelihood speaks volumes about their business ethics.


One takeaway from your story is that anyone with expensive tools should have insurance. I have no idea how expensive that would be, but if you’ve got $30,000 in tools and accessories and your livelihood depends on them, it makes sense to have insurance.


I spent 4 years working for a shop owner like that. That’s where I learned to take pride in my work and my tools and equipment. Everything in that shop was Snap On. Floor jacks, storage cabinets, equipment, shop tools. I take that back…the brake lathe was Ammco.

Once a year the trash cans were sent to the body shop to be painted the correct shade of red to match everything else. He’s still in business today. He eventually got tired of guys coming to work there that didn’t have the correct toolbox. He bought 2 large Snap On boxes. So now when you hire on, you bring your tools and load them into his toolbox to use while you work there. That way all the boxes match.

I guess I’m not familiar with shop customs, but why would everyone’s keys be in one closet? If they are personal tool boxes no one else should have access and the key should be in the guy’s pocket. Now if the keys were all in one place under the control of the dealer, I think it is legally the responsibility of the dealer for safe-keeping. Don’t take control of something you don’t want to be responsible for. I used to have keys for all the cars, desks, files, doors, etc. in one place but it was double locked up tight and with a security guard.

By key closet I do not mean personal keys belonging to employees. Dealers have a closet where all of the keys to new and used cars are stored. Usually unlocked during the day and locked at nights.

I would imagine that whoever was behind that break in had either worked there before or was just familiar with the layout. They just pulled the keys (all marked with a yellow tag) for a new GMC pickup and helped themselves.
As for that dealer’s ethics; he had none and that was the last dealer I ever worked for. His TV commercials touted service after the sale. His comments during company meetings was that service departments were just a PITA as far as he was concerned and that if he was not required to have one he would just bulldoze it all down and park cars there.

Back to boxes, when I went to work for Nissan a co-worker the next stall over gave me a little bit of crap over my MAC box; which had absolutely nothing wrong with it and was more than sufficient.
Three months later he hated my guts and for what reason? The top producing tech each month got a nice bonus and after 3 months I had become the top producing tech and started getting that bonus he was used to getting. Guess MAC beats Snap On in that case… :slight_smile:


Sounds like a nice sleezeball. The thing with service departments is that it is an opportunity for a new sale every time someone comes in. Time to get acquainted and walk around looking at the new cars while you wait.

normal people? Sure. professionals? nope.

I remember years ago when I upgraded my French Horn from an intermediate Yamaha level to a beautiful Conn 8DS as a sophomore in high school (and this was even after borrowing my old teacher’s Holton for some auditions as a freshman, never did like the Holton, though, thought I could blow through it too easily). The difference was astounding. I imagine that for a professional mechanic using the same set of tools over and over again all day, the quality difference is quite noticeable between Snap-on vs Craftsman. My friend in TN became a master Plumber last year and has been slowly upgrading his tool set. Same answer from him between lower and higher quality tools.

1 Like