Dresser tool chest isn’t as ghetto as you’d think


A dedicated rolling chest for one’s tools is among the most indulgent yet worthwhile acquisitions. Having everything mobile and organized for quick access improves efficiency and keeps the shop tidy. But holy living crap, have you priced these things? Even a mediocre setup costs more than the gross national product of some small nations!

Here’s a project that tarts up a dresser into a passable tool chest. Using casters, modern drawer pulls and a tidy paint job, they turn a nasty old dresser into something presentable. It’s nowhere near as slick as the commercial units…no ball bearing glides, not chemical resistant, and your macho grease monkey friends will just roll their eyes…but if you’d rather spend your hard-earned money on more and better tools than a pretty box to put them in, this might be just the thing. From across the room, you’d hardly know the difference.

A good tool chest will include several shallow drawers so that all the tools are visible at a glance and not buried in a jumble. If searching for a piece of furniture to re-use, look for something with multiple slim drawers rather than just a few deep ones; a large jewelry chest might work well.

[via Craftynest]


  1. Sobachatina says:

    I have a similar tool chest that is a repurposed hospital cart. It’s metal, nicely sized, and I got it for free from a hospital that was upgrading.

    The biggest problem is that mine is pink. Maybe I’ll try this idea out. :)

  2. I have done the same thing for some of my larger tools. It works great and cost a whole lot less.

  3. Carl says:

    I’m not sure it’s really hackaday quality (maybe if there was an integrated soldering station or similar), but I love the look at final product and given me another thing to look out for in the recycling.

  4. Carl says:

    Thoough you wouldn’t put a soldering station in a chest of draws (maybe a workbench), doh.

  5. kirov says:

    how does using sandpaper on an old cabinet and attaching wheels to it count as a hack

  6. Alan says:

    Lack of heavy duty runners with proper bearings makes this a chocolate fire-guard. Sticking to a Snap-On box thanks.

  7. Andrew says:

    more a craft than a hack. still like it, though.

  8. maxdamage says:

    Not a hack.

  9. firetech says:

    Normally I don’t go after Troll Posts…


    Hack has several related meanings in the technology and computer science fields. It may refer to a clever or quick fix to a computer program problem, or to what may be perceived to be a clumsy or inelegant solution to a problem. The term is also used to refer to a modification of a program or device to give the user access to features that were otherwise unavailable, such as DIY circuit bending.

    Another definition is … Kludge – A kludge is a workaround, a quick-and-dirty solution, a clumsy or inelegant, yet effective, solution to a problem, typically using parts that are cobbled together. This term is diversely used in fields such as computer science, aerospace engineering, Internet slang, and evolutionary neuroscience.

    Most of the stuff on Hack A Day is Kludgish. (New word.. I like it!). Maybe we should rename hack-a-day to Kludge-a-day! But the point is, if something is used or modified in a way it was not originally designed, and the effect makes life easier, it can be classified as a Hack.

    @Hack-A-Day Authors / Moderators

    Can we get a moderator system for comments… PLEASE!

  10. VIPER! says:

    Looks nice and make since! However is this person color blind??? I mean Baby blue is not very manly.

  11. Acidque says:

    Here’s a link to the ikea alex drawer unit. I have two of these in my woodshop for small tools / router bits / dremel accessorys etc….I replaced the plastic casters with harbor freight ones. Much cheaper than a metal tool chest.


  12. Andrew says:

    >Can we get a moderator system for comments… PLEASE!

    I’ll take trolls over censorship any day.

  13. dude says:

    hackaday…what teh hell is this?

    its a trend of shit lately

  14. firetech says:

    But censoring trolls is so much better then listening to them whine….

  15. tbase says:

    Um, actually, it’s EXACTLY as ghetto as I thought. Every dresser I’ve ever seen that would be a candidate for this has a hard enough time handling the weight of half a dozen pair of jeans, which weigh substantially less than tools. IIRC I bought my 3-piece Craftsman setup on sale for a couple hundred bucks brand new with a buy the top and bottom, get the middle free sort of deal. Seems to me, minus the casters, you could get almost that much for this selling it for its original purpose, especially if it’s anywhere near well built enough to handle the weight of tools.

    That being said, I used to have a garage dresser, but it was for car towels and other light-weight items- and this looks waaay better than what I had. But tools? Lets see a picture of it after 6 months of actual use as a tool chest and see how it looks. And no hiding the boot-prints with Summit Racing stickers, either ;-)

  16. cath0de says:

    does every asshole use the nick kirov or is it always the same guy? i’ve started reading the comments on every post just to hear him whine.

  17. Brooks says:

    VIPER!: Good on you for avoiding sexism by thinking to say “this person” instead of assuming it was built by a man, but does everything have to be “manly”? That seems pretty limiting, and to more than just your color palette.

  18. Ben Wright says:

    Buy the one at Sears only when is has a big yellow Clearance sticker on it for less than half of suggested retail. It will hold the 70 pounds of wrenches and sockets in each drawer. It looked like it was more of a craft supply cabinet to me.

  19. spacecoyote says:

    Got my rolling chest/toolbox combo for $70 at Walmart. The steel used is a little flimsy but probably a lot better than this thing.

  20. PKM says:

    @Brooks: If you care about what your greasemonkey friends think, then yes, it does. Paint it Snap-On red or DeWalt yellow/black, and it wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb. If you don’t care, however, paint it whatever colour you want (or have paint to hand).

    The second commenter says
    “Why can’t Craftsman figure out that if they made their chests in a color like this, we might be tempted to pay those big bucks?”
    – maybe this is a precious insight into the female tool-buying mind?

  21. Derek Vance says:

    wow, looks pretty nice, maybe i shoulda done that instead of buying a $6000 snapon :P

  22. Pilotgeek says:

    I see you criticize damn-near every post. Why don’t you post something? I’d call this a damn fine hack. It doesn’t have to be electronic to be a hack, now can we PLEASE stop with the is this a hack or not arguments. THE “NOT A HACK” PEOPLE ARE WHAT IS RUINING HACK-A-DAY. IF YOU DON’T LIKE A SUBMISSION, IGNORE IT.

  23. grovenstien says:

    Architects plan chests are slowly going out of fashion due to the increse in CAD drawings and less plots, although still fairly expensive they are a much cheaper alt to Snapon tool chests

  24. McSquid says:

    once again, this is an object being modified and used for a purpose for which it was not originally intended. i swear you people start the “not a hack” chant just because you realize you don’t need an electronics degree or heavy machinery to pull it off. nice job, nice money saver and in these times that’s what its all about.

  25. strider_mt2k says:

    I think I would make a coule of modifications:

    First I’d screw a piece of plywood to the very bottom to attach all the pieces of the dresser together and then put the casters on THAT.

    Second I’d buy a few metal brackets for the inside corners of the dresser.

    Rolling around with a bunch of weight in it is going to impart stresses on that dresser that weren’t imagined in it’s original task.

    Strengthening the joints and attaching to a good solid plate at the bottom will help it all last longer in it’s new job.

    I wouldn’t be suggesting stuff for this if I didn’t find it awesome and well worth keeping around!
    Kudos for hacking and re-purposing!

  26. strider_mt2k says:

    -sorry one more thing!

    A thick piece of plywood at the top will give a good surface to work on, and if you make it slightly larger than the original top then the overlap will give you a place to attach clamps and such.

  27. robokoi says:

    Definitely agree w/ the reinforcing. the pic on step 2 looks like the bottom is a solid plank, so additional plywood might only be necessary if what looks like a crack is really there.

    Another thought… add strips of thin polyethylene for glides under the drawers. Will help a lot with the wear ‘n tear on them.

  28. Isotope says:

    VIPER!:”Looks nice and make since! However is this person color blind??? I mean Baby blue is not very manly.”

    Maybe that’s because it was a woman who built it. Follow the link.

    I like this post. Having just bought a several hundred dollar rolling tool chest, I still need a place my larger hand/power tools, and this is a good idea. An improvement I would try to make is adding some nice drawer slides, possibly ball bearing.

  29. strider_mt2k says:

    You are right. I didn’t see that was a solid piece on the bottom already.
    Cool! :)

    I wonder if there is any other kind of tough plastic that can be re-purposed for glides?
    Milk bottle plastic or something?

  30. barry99705 says:

    Go to Sam’s Club. In the kitchen isle they have those white cutting boards. Stuff works great as slide material.

  31. Mike says:

    I have done something similar with the ivar cabinets from IKEA. I have 6 of them on castors. When I require more surface space I can just roll all the units together. I have an anti-static mat top on one of them and a steel plate on another.

  32. pookey says:

    Suggestion for hackaday:

    1) register the domain “www.bitchaday.com”

    2) Write a script that parses comments looking for phrases like: “that’s not a hack.”

    3) Delete that comment here, and post it on “bitchaday.”

    At the very least, it would make things much more pleasant for the rest of us, here.

  33. tbase says:

    pookey- you should submit that as a hack.

  34. ac7zl says:

    I like this idea a lot. There are a lot of nasty old dressers at garage sales and church rummage sales that have little potential but for firewood. This type of re-purposing breathes new life into them, and keeps them out of the landfill.

    The key to success is to make sure that you beef up the drawers and dresser body, as necessary, to account for the greater weight of tools.

    In my own case, I have many dozens of plastic containers similar to these:


    I repurposed an old dresser by removing the drawers, and building a series of shelves into it. The plastic organizers slide into the shelves. I also added casters to the dresser. The result is a chest of parts… all of my resistors, capacitors, and small fasteners (nuts, bolts, washers) organized and easy to wheel around if needed.

    My dresser had a faux woodgrain formica finish, so I left it as-is.

  35. pookey says:

    Here’s another idea for hackaday and the bitch-a-day crowd:

    1) the hackaday staff should write a script to parse comments looking for lame “that’s not a hack” phrases.

    2) Once detected, the script will check to see if the person who is bitching has *ever* submitted useful work of their own.

    3) If not, they are wanna-be’s or just plain trolls. *plonk* The comment is deleted.

    4) Everyone’s life gets better. ;)

    Man, I’m full of great ideas today.

    I figure I should have hackaday straightened up by lunchtime. This afternoon, I’ll tackle world hunger, and cure corruption in the White House.

  36. tbase says:

    pookey- the first one was great, but this one is clearly not a hack ;-)

  37. Brooks says:

    PKM: Actually, my complaint about the “everything must be ‘manly'” idea was inspired by one of my grease-monkey friends, who regularly complains about that sort of nonsense.

  38. pookey says:


    Good thing I was checking over at bitchaday, otherwise I wouldn’t have noticed that the sweet script I proposed earlier had moved your last comment over there!


    But seeing as you obviously don’t recognize my brilliance, let me propose this hack:

    1) Take kirov (or the group of people pretending to be him/her) and set this person(s) in front of a mirror.

    2) Trick him/her into facing the mirror while saying, “this mirror trick is a hack.”

    3) Upon seeing his/her image declaring something to be a hack that surely isn’t, kirov will spontaneously respond, “no it isn’t”

    4) Upon seeing the reflection assenting this, he/she will be forced to take the opposing position just for the hell of it. “Yes it is!” That’s what trolls do.

    5) This will lead to another round of exchanges with the mirror, which lead to more and more, and so on. It’s like a 2-line piece of assembler code where a jump loops back onto itself.

    And like the processor, which is rendered non- functional by all the wasted cycles, kirov will likely be incapacitated (at least until the mirror is broken or he/she is rebooted).

    Result… the signal to noise ratio in hackaday comments will improve by many decibels.

    Now @tbase, I defy you… tell me *that* isn’t an 3l33t hack. Sweet! 8^o

  39. Adam says:

    I’ve got the Alex from IKEA too. Mine was “modified” by my wife and featured on IKEA hacker:


  40. Zymastorik says:

    Doods… even my wife looked at this and cried wtf… bullshit. In the famous words of Jimmy Vulmer, “I mean… come on!”

  41. Doug says:

    I own a decent Craftsman tool cabinet/chest set on casters. However in my home shop it hasn’t moved an inch, but quality construction is great whever you are going to be opening the drawera to retrieve tools multiple time during the day. This project is what it is. Most DIY are smart enough to figure out if duplicating this would fit their needs, without comment frome the rogues gallery

  42. Garry jordan says:

    Hi im Garry i will like to know if you do sale or order tool chest

  43. That’s awesome.

    Tool chests are expensive. Why shed out all that money when you can make something for hardly any money.

    Heck, why not treat the wife to a new dresser, gaining some good behaviour points! Then turn her old one into a tool chest. Everyones a winner!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 97,808 other followers