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Tool chests are one of the best ways to haul your gear on your truck (or even a trailer). They can also be useful in shop or job site settings where a sliding drawer box might be too fragile. There are many names for these tool chests – “gang box” being very common among tradesmen.
The Ridgid 2048 tool chest is one of the most popular chests in todays market. The price appeals to the average tradesmen, but the quality is top notch and rivals other boxes.
Whether you mount it on your truck or leave it stationary, it can store loads of tools and keep them safe.
We have one on our welding trailer and we’ve been very pleased with it – hence writing this article.
We’ll cover the pros and cons of this tool chest, which should give you a better idea of how good this Ridgid actually is.
- Arc welded 16 gauge steel
- 149 pounds
- 16 cubic feet of storage
- 48 inches long
- 24 inches wide
- 28 inches deep
- 2 recessed lock mounts
- Weather sealed
- Extension cord entry
- Base mounts
– High Quality Hinges – The hinges on this box are very heavy duty. They have a soft close mechanism which allows the box to close slowly when you let go of it. It will never slam on you, which is good for preventing finger injuries and loud noise.
–Weather Sealed – The high quality rubber surrounding the lid will keep your tools safe from rain, snow, and road moisture. You can feel confident storing electrical tools in this box. It hasn’t leaked on us yet, and the weight of the lid makes a really solid seal.
–Carrying Handles– The heavy duty handles on both sides make it easy for you and a buddy to lift this box. They stop at 90 degrees which gives them an extremely ergonomic feel. The box weighs about 150 pounds, so each person only has to deal with 75 pounds of weight.
–Recessed Lock Mounts– since the padlocks are mounted internally, there is no way for a thief to cut them successfully. They would have to actually drill the entire locking mechanism to have a chance at opening it. There are two slots for master locks, so getting a pair with the same key is the easiest choice. The locks are right near the chests corners, so thieves with a pry bar will have no luck.
–Sliding Storage Tray– The compact storage tray slides along the top of the tool chest. This is great for smaller drill bits, sharpies, tape measures, etc. You can be confident that your smaller items will be secure and won’t get lost in the bottom of the chest. If you aren’t a fan of this tray, you can simply lift it out and remove it.
–Baked Enamel– The high quality powder coating on this box will last for years on end. It is resistant to scratches and road debris scars. This is much better than a painted box, as powder coats are thicker and more durable. The orange has a nice sheen to it, but it isn’t for everyone since its quite loud. Baked enamel is one of the best coatings for tool chests. It will get worn eventually, but it takes a long time.
–Open Mounting Bases– The taller bases on this chest have multiple mounting holes for easy installation. You can easily get a 3/8″ bolt through any of the holes. The taller gaps in the bases allow you to use longer bolts. This is a great design and we mounted this box in less than 20 minutes. Mounting it makes theft less likely, but it is still possible.
–Squeaky Hinges– Although the hinges are very sturdy, they started squeaking after about a month. This isn’t a huge deal, but I would have thought Ridgid would grease them better from the factory. WD-40 helps, but the squeaking persists still. This is something to consider. It is also possible that we just got a chest with less grease than the others…
–Poor Welds– The welds that are visible on this box aren’t very pretty. Most spots are grinded down but some of the welds around the lock mounts are a bit of an eye sore. If Ridgid took a bit more care, then I think they could find a solution for this.
–The Weight– Considering the boxes size, the weight makes sense. However, it can be hard for one person to mount it or move it. If Ridgid used thinner steel, then the box wouldn’t be sturdy – so it’s hard to say what is best. Just keep in mind that you’ll need a helper if you plan on mounting this box.
Ways To Organize
Since this chest is just one big cube, it is usually best to find an organization method. 5 gallon buckets in the bottom work really well for us. This box will hold about 6 of them and they stay firmly in place.
The bucket organization really helps keeping your tool categories separate. It is a cheap solution, but it does sacrifice some space since the buckets are round.
Square boxes inside would be the most optimal, but we haven’t done that yet.
It is also totally fine to not have separate organizers. This is especially true if you have big heavy tools that sit in the bottom.
We like having a bucket for stick electrodes, a bucket for grinders, a bucket for clamps – you get the idea. Whatever helps you work more efficiently is the way to go.
Who Is This Ridgid Chest Best For?
Generally, boxes like these cater to field workers and mobile tradesmen. If you do more mobile welding than shop work, then a chest is a great thing to have on your truck.
If you tend to stick around the welding shop and do fabrication work, then a sliding drawer tool box will offer more organization.
These tool chests are also great for any handyman with a truck. Whether its landscaping, plumbing, or welding – this chest will definitely have you covered. This wide range of applications is why these chests are so popular. You definitely don’t have to be a welder to enjoy one.
As of late, this chest has been available at home depot for $300. It has definitely come down in price, and most boxes in this category go for about $500. The Cat and Knaack boxes are usually pricier than $300. Jobsite boxes are on the higher end of price ranges as well.
Despite the Ridgid 2048’s price point, it offers exceptional value. We have really found no drawbacks to this less expensive model. It receives amazing ratings every year, with the main complaints being the visible welds.
What Locks Are Needed?
Smaller master locks in the #5 size are most commonly used for this Ridgid. The most important thing is that the shackle is 1 inch long. This allows the lock to recess into the box when you lock it. It also allows the door mechanism to get a grip on the lock.
You can use either a coded lock or a key lock. We only put one master lock on ours since we’re in a low crime area. For city areas or rough neighborhoods, 2 locks is probably best. It will prevent people from using a pry bar.
Make sure to not lose your key! You may have to torch the box or use an angle grinder to get it open.
The locks are installed with U-bolts that are included. These grip the shackle from inside the box so no one can mess with them.
Straps vs Bolts
Bolting the Ridgid 2048 to a flatbed or a trailer is the most secure way to go. However, many owners just strap the box into place.
This choice mainly depends on aesthetics and how secure you want it to be. It is obviously much easier for a thief to unstrap then to unbolt.
Since bolts and nuts are cheap, we just took the time to mount it. It looks more permanent and feels safer when we’re driving. 3/8″ bolts with nyloc nuts are the best bet. Don’t forget washers.
However, if you plan on moving this chest to different job sites, then a strap is the way to go. Often times, contractors will keep a chest on a job site until they move on to a different job.
Known for making some of the finest tools on the market, Ridgid has cemented their place in the trades.
Home depot has partnered with them for awhile now, and this box is usually in stock at most of their stores. Make sure to inspect your box before purchase – these chests are notorious for getting dents during the shipping process. 16 gauge steel is thin!
This Ridgid has an entry level price point, but it is made by an extremely reputable brand. It may not be the nicest chest on the market, but it’s certainly the most “bang for your buck”.
Featured image credit : Weldersmanual trailer