Mechanics and equipment repair technicians often need to be able to take their tools with them, right to the vehicle or piece of equipment that they are working on. The mechanic’s roll around tool chest was created with this in mind, allowing the mechanic to park his toolbox right next to the vehicle he’s working on. Of course, with some of the larger tool chests, that might be a little hard to do, unless the mechanic has a team of oxen to help them move their toolbox.
Tool carts provide the same flexibility, without having the cost or weight of a full-blown roll around tool chest. They can vary from very simple units, which just consist of a work surface on wheels, where tools can be placed, to multi-drawer units, which provide both a place to set tools and some storage as well. Generally speaking, the ones with drawers are much more flexible, as they do have some on-board tool storage.
Of course, having a tool cart won’t eliminate the need for the mechanic’s roll-around. These are designed for those things that are being used at the moment, whereas a roll-around, especially the larger ones, is designed to store all of a mechanic’s tools in a secure, organized fashion.
The nice thing about tool carts is their flexibility and portability. The few drawers that they do have can be used to store the most commonly used tools, leaving the rest in the main tool chest. Having a way to lock them up when going off for lunch or break is nice as well, although not all have that capability. The other thing that a tool cart can do very well is provide an easy way to take parts along. Instead of using the drawers for tools, common parts can be stored in them. In that way, between the roll-around tool chest and the tool cart, everything is right at hand.
In this list, I’ve included all units with drawers, as I feel that the added storage space is definitely worth having. I’ve always said that you can’t have too much tool storage, as my personal workshop can attest to. Even with all the tool storage I have, I never have enough.
These are also all steel carts, although there are several plastic ones available. The plastic ones I’ve seen are all sturdy units, which will provide excellent service and carry quite a load. However, the best units I could find were all metal ones. My one concern with plastic tool carts is that lubricants are usually petroleum products, which could possibly be damaging to some plastics. I’m sure that the manufacturers have taken this into account in their materials selection, but I still tend to be suspicious.
A few of the tool carts I’ve looked at had problems with hardware. These pretty much all require some assembly by the purchaser. If the hardware that comes with the cart doesn’t’ work with the design of the cart, then all you’ve done is buy a box of headaches. None of these units have that problem, although some others that I’ve seen do.
GearWrench, best known for their ratcheting box end wrenches, has gotten into general tool manufacturing. This tool cart shows the same attention to quality that we've grown to expect from them. Read Full Review
GearWrench is best known for their ratcheting box end wrenches, which every auto parts store around seems to carry. They’ve moved out of that niche now and are starting to manufacture other tools as well. This tool cart from them is the nicest one I’ve seen. The four drawers are all mounted on ball-bearing slides, with an auto return feature which ensures that the drawers close fully, even if you only push them most of the way closed. The drawers are latching as well, to ensure that they don’t come open accidentally while moving the cart. A flip up lid reveals a large work area or tool tray, and is held up by gas struts. It has an 880 pound maximum capacity.
This cart is designed for use by technicians who need to take their tools with them. Not only does it have four locking drawers, but it has a locking screwdriver rack as well. Read Full Review
This cart is actually designed for use as a combination toolbox and tool cart. Four drawers provide ample storage space, plus they add a locking screwdriver holder on the side. Considering that the screwdrivers can usually take up a complete drawer all by themselves, that’s like adding another drawer. The cart has a 350 pound capacity. A bottom shelf provides additional space for parts or other equipment. The lid is locking to protect your equipment.
The top tray on this tool cart is really unique. It provides a flat work surface, which can either be used as a workbench or a place to lay your tools. When you need access to the compartment underneath, the top splits and slides out of the way. Read Full Review
Homak provides a nice cart, with a twist. The top tray on this one is covered, like the others we’ve looked at, but the cover provides a work area as well. If you need access to the top storage tray, the lid splits, sliding to the two sides on drawer slides, allowing you access to what is underneath, without having to move what’s on top. Nice job! Two locking drawers are provided, as well as a bottom tray for addition storage. Total weight limit is 600 pounds.
This tool cart offers three shelves and three drawers, giving you the best of both worlds. The drawers are thin drawer, like you'd find on a machinist's tool chest. Read Full Review
This cart offers the best of both storage worlds, with three shelves plus three drawers. The drawers are narrow ones (height-wise) like you would find in a machinist’s tool box. They are designed for organizing your tools, not just dumping them in a drawer. With three shelves, there’s plenty of room to pile lots on board, which the 300 pound capacity can easily handle. Two of the casters lock to prevent the tool cart from rolling away while you’re working.
This rather simple cart by Excel is by far not their fanciest tool cart. Nevertheless, for those that need something simple, it provides three shelves, plus a single locking drawer. Read Full Review
Excel makes an extensive line of tool carts, including some which are much fancier than this one. However, this is a nice compromise for those who are looking for a simple tool cart. The three shelves provide lots of room for moving around tools and parts, while the single locking drawer provides some secure storage. A tool tray on the end provides another place to put tools, while the top is flat (not a tray) and rubber coated to prevent slipping.