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]

43 thoughts on “Dresser Tool Chest Isn’t As Ghetto As You’d Think

  1. 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’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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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 ;-)

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. @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?

  8. @kirov
    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.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. -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.

  13. @strider_mt2k:
    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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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?

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. @tbase-

    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

  21. 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

  22. 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!

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