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View Full Version : What's the deal with Kennedy tool boxes?



oxford
02-23-2013, 01:08 PM
So what makes these tool boxes a legend with machinists? They are not that cheap, and it seems like there are some nice options when you get into that price range. Is it the brown color? It does look like some of there top boxes have a lot of small drawers that could be useful. Whats the deal with these?

portlandRon
02-23-2013, 01:13 PM
Could be that for many years they were the only ones making metal boxes for machinist. If you could not come up with the bucks for a wood Gerstner then it was your only option.

Mcgyver
02-23-2013, 01:17 PM
So what makes these tool boxes a legend with machinists? They are not that cheap, and it seems like there are some nice options when you get into that price range. Is it the brown color? It does look like some of there top boxes have a lot of small drawers that could be useful. Whats the deal with these?

I think you mentioned it - form factor is right, lots of small drawers. I've a wack of them, they good not amazing and as you say expensive.....but I'm not sure what is a better alternative . Big heavy stuff is in a couple of lista's and there's a red home handyman special stacked roll around (canadian tire) that actually has been ok. imo the Kennedy is not so much hype or culture BS but that its ok value -surely a lot better value than Strap-On lol

MotorradMike
02-23-2013, 01:19 PM
I think the slides are pretty special.
No balls yet feel like rolling friction.

Bill736
02-23-2013, 03:32 PM
One thing special is that older ones do show up at yard sales, etc. for cheap. I bought two of them at Goodwill for $15 each. They needed some cleaning and adjustments, but they're now fully functional, and all those little shallow drawers just beg for precision tools.

Spin Doctor
02-23-2013, 05:27 PM
Mine are close to 40 years old and they still function as well now as when they were new. I have my grandfathers that must be from the 30s or earlier and it it still functions great as far as the cover pins etc. Sure the "faux Mouse Skin" drawer liners get messed up but they are replaceable and with a little thought can be replaced with something else. The only thing is they never seem to be big enough :rolleyes:

KiddZimaHater
02-23-2013, 06:15 PM
Kennedy has alot of options to add onto your box. I started with the 11-drawer 'top box' and then ran out of room, and bought the 36" Roll away. I then filled that up, and bought the 7 drawer middle riser box.
There are also side boxes, shelves, big roll around carts, stainless boxes, and every other bell and whistle available.
Besides that, Kennedy boxes seem to be made with better quality.
The slides are smooth and sturdy.
Other boxes seem kinda flimsy compared to Kennedy.

MaxxLagg
02-23-2013, 06:41 PM
While they're good boxes (and I have several) the reality is that when you start in the trade everybody else has one and you feel compelled to get one to fit in. Anything else would work just fine but you'd look stupid with a Crapsman or something.

I actually prefer the Mechanics top boxes to the Machinists top chest, as the drawers are bigger. That being said, I need to get another 11 drawer Machinist chest to put on my bench and offload some seldom used tools so I don't have to push them around when I only use them once in a blue moon.

One suggestion to those with Kennedy rollers. If you carry a lot of weight (mine was up to 800 pounds, with a Mechanics top chest, riser, and roller) you WILL rip the bottom out of them where the casters attach. They are made with very thin gauge steel. The solution is to take some 1/2x4 cold rolled steel, cut it and weld it together and drill for the casters to form a rolling cart to place the roller chest on (like a furniture dolly). Cut backing plates to place INSIDE the box. This way the roller is riding on a cart with casters, not on the bottom of the tool box. Mine was ripping out just due to the weight. This fixed it for all time.

The newer ones are nicer than the ones built from the early 80's to the early 90's. Also, the ones dating from the 60's and early 70's are nice. Look for the rounded corners. I have my dad's Kennedy from 1972 and it's nicer in fit and finish than the one I originally bought in 1984 and the drawer slides are like new still.

Another tip: if you have a newer one with the roller bearing drawer slides, close a drawer and make sure it latches before you open another, and another and so on. I've seen them, when sitting on an unlevel surface, have ALL the drawers slide open and then the WHOLE box tip over and land on it's face, spilling tools everywhere!

oxford
02-23-2013, 10:26 PM
Kennedy has alot of options to add onto your box. I started with the 11-drawer 'top box' and then ran out of room, and bought the 36" Roll away. I then filled that up, and bought the 7 drawer middle riser box.
There are also side boxes, shelves, big roll around carts, stainless boxes, and every other bell and whistle available.
Besides that, Kennedy boxes seem to be made with better quality.
The slides are smooth and sturdy.
Other boxes seem kinda flimsy compared to Kennedy.

Most tool boxes in the price range of Kennedy offers those same add ons. I think MaxxLagg may have it right with the everyone else in the trade has one, kind of like SnapOn in the automotive trade. From what you are saying and from what I have seen with older toolboxes, at one time they may have been one of the best. I think over the years the tool box industry has caught up.

JRouche
02-24-2013, 12:06 AM
Yea well. Its all in the name. Some folks chase name brands and some buy what works. I could throw some names around but thats not useful. What is useful is storage that has drawers that are sturdy and have bearings VS metal sliding on metal drawer slides. I have a variety of both and really hate to have to pull a non-bearing drawer out, even a light one. I have several drawers that are overloaded with a good 100+lbs and its a one finger pull. IMO? Dont get hung up with the names of the tool cabinets but how they are made. AND if you can score some used ones at a good price. JR

PixMan
02-24-2013, 12:29 AM
My first machinist's tooolbox was a Craftsman 8-drawer Journeyman's chest that appeared to be made by Kennedy. It was slightly longer so it didn't fit on the Kennedy roll-around cabinet I later bought. After a time I got a Kennedy 52611 that fit right, and a newer Kennedy 297B roll-around. All have the friction slides, not ball bearing. I don't mind this at all, and I also have a Kennedy stainless steel 3-drawer roll-round that has the ball bearing slides so I know the difference. I've also got a 528 sitting on a 295B roll-around. All but the 52611 were bought off the local Craigslist, the 297B the most at $300, the 295B at $100, and this stainless steel one for....get this....$30:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v466/kenm10759/Dads%20shop/IMG_0274-r-1.jpg

I think the reasons people buy Kennedy is the reputation for durability at a reasonable price. There are cabinets and tool boxes with ball bearing slides that are as good, but few have the solid reputation for overall price-performance value. Perhaps the other makers haven't been around long enough to show the 40+ years that some Kennedy stull has been around. Mine is newer, and shows little wear (just some dirt.)

DATo
02-24-2013, 09:11 AM
A bit off-topic, as I wistfully recall ...

This thread got me thinking about the first tool chest I bought. I was about 20 years old and my brother, who was already a journeyman machinist working at a large corporation told me of a coworker who sold Gerstners out of his house. I went to visit the guy and he took me down into his basement where I beheld an entire wall of stacked, boxed, new Gerstners. I had my choice of several types in either white oak or walnut. I chose the one which was probably the most popular at the time - the 26", 10 drawer model.

http://www.gerstnerusa.com/images/product_detail/go52_open_rt.jpg

The cost .... $75. At the same time Kennedy's were going for about half that price or less but the old timers would still give you the "He doesn't know" look if you brought one into the shop. (At that same time no machinist would be caught dead with a Mitutoyo instrument in his box.)

That same Gerstner today retails for $980 new and a comparable Kennedy for about $500. That's an increase of 13 times what I originally paid for it. I don't make nearly 13 times the same salary though.

Personally, unless you have money to burn, I'd suggest buying a used chest for the best deal you can swing and reconditioning it yourself. I thoroughly enjoyed reconditioning several chests including a large, wooden, CRAFTSMAN machinist chest which I got for next to nothing, and they all turned out to be works of art. If you are intent on buying "new" don't necessarily buy the name ... I've seen some really good deals at Harbor Freight for far more reasonable prices than Kennedy's. After all, in the final analysis it all comes down to what you actually need, and not what will impress your friends.

Tony Ennis
02-24-2013, 10:12 AM
Are security features such as locks and the panel that slides up to cover the drawers necessary in the private shop? Do we move these wooden boxes around so much that handles are needed? I'm looking at the picture above and wondering if the design is out-dated. We also seem to own a lot more tools today than I envision our grandfathers owned. If a person needs more than one toolbox, isn't something awry, such as the box is too small, or something? How often so we throw our machinists toolbox into the truck and heard to an off-site job?

I'd sooner expect professionals today to have a 'cabinet of drawers' that's bolted to the wall so it can't tip over. I believe I've seen pictures of such in Sir John's shop.

oxford
02-24-2013, 11:04 AM
Thanks for the replies, I am not in the market for a tool box, I was just curious about them. I right now have a pretty nice Mac bottom box in my garage from my auto mechanic days and a top/bottom craftsman set. I would like to replace them with 2 of the tall Vidmar units sometime in the future, I wouldn't mind one of those wooden boxes sitting on my work bench either.

Speaking of the wooden boxes, has anyone any experience with the Gerstner knock off boxes that Grizzly sells. They look nice in the picture, but.....

mygrizzly1022
02-24-2013, 12:45 PM
Hi all.

The big deal with Kennedy tool boxes, is like the big deal with a lot of products. Its basic marketing "101". The goal is to create the illusion that your product is the go to product for those people in the know. Snap on tools is great at it. Witness the overpriced chests that sport the name of your favorite NASCAR car driver. Can these boxes be any better than their regular fare? I rather doubt it, but people buy them nonetheless. They've paid their money and I'm sure they're happy with their choice, and proud of their box. That is what makes free markets work and is a cornerstone of capitalism. There are lots of good boxes out there. The key is it the one that suits your purpose and best satisfies your pride of ownership.

Bert

Errol Groff
02-24-2013, 01:39 PM
A long while back (I was driving the Plymouth Horizon so it was at least 15 years ago) I was driving through Ohio on the way home from Oshkosh WI and I saw a sign announcing Van Wert OH, home of Kennedy Tool Boxes. I found the town and the plant and banged on the door and asked about the possibility of getting a tour. The VERY nice foreman of the shipping dock tried to find someone to take me around and when that failed he said, what the heck, and took me around himself. Turned out I had stumbled into the building where the roll-a-ways are made. Giant rolls of sheet steel come in one end of the plant and fully completed roll-a-ways go out the other end.

First the steel is straigntened as it comes off the rolls, sheared to lengths then folded, punched and assembled. Painting was done mostly by robotic arms but there was a fellow dressed in protective gear laying on the floor spraying into the nooks and corners that the robot arms could not reach. Finally the units were boxed and shipped. This of course is the Readers Digest version of the process.


They had a small museum which showcased the history of the company and had many examples of long out of manufacture boxes.

Last October on Manufacturing Day I toured a place in Aubrun MA which has a lot of similar machinery. Photos here:
http://neme-s.org/American_Steel-Merchants_Fabrication/manufacturing_day_2012.htm

Errol Groff

Guido
02-24-2013, 01:40 PM
Hey-------if a customer wants a green suit, turn on a green light.

--G