DIY Projects

Make Your Own “Snap On” Toolbox

Snap-On toolboxes and tools are made by a leading American brand that has also gained favour here in the UK due to their high-end quality products, built for professional use. My son has hankered after a Snap-on toolbox to organise the tools lying around his garage for a while, but with second-hand Snap-On original toolboxes costing in the region of £1,400 on eBay, he decided to compromise and make his own. Here is the result:

And here is how he did it:

First, he bought three old filing cabinets from local second-hand shops. The smaller one cost £12, and the larger two, which were quite rusty, £10 each, so a total of £32.

Next step was to remove the rust using a mix of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. To do this, you need to mix the two to make a paste, wipe it on the rusty areas then leave it for about half an hour, then wipe it off using the abrasive side of a washing up sponge or similar. Obviously, you don’t want to use anything too abrasive like wire wool, as that could scratch the metal.

Once the rust was removed, he sanded the metal lightly with 120-grit sandpaper to make sure the surface was smooth and to get rid of any rough spots.

The next step was to wipe everything to get rid of grains generated through sanding and leave it to dry. Then it is ready to spray paint.

Spray painting is a messy business, so make sure you have surrounding items well covered with old sheets, newspaper or bin liners.

Before using his coloured paint, David recommends using a coat or two of metal primer. During this project, he skipped this step but says it could have helped achieve a final smoother finish.

When the primer is dry, its ready for the colour. Any parts you don’t want spraying, make sure you cover before. For example, you might not want to only spray the front of the draws as painting the entire thing could stop them opening smoothly.

If you are going to try this yourself and haven’t spray painted before, check out a few YouTube videos beforehand which demonstrate how to do it well. I have included one here.

For the graphics, my son downloaded found images he wanted to use online then resized them to make the resolution sufficient for printing. You can do that by using a site like Image Enlarger if you don’t software that resizes images without losing quality.

He then printed them onto self-adhesive inkjet laser printing paper which you can buy on Amazon or any stationery store. He then cut them out carefully with small scissors and stuck them on cabinets. Once he was satisfied with the look, he lacquered over the graphics with spray lacquer. If you just rely on the sticky printer paper the graphics will likely come off in a short time, or get damaged, so spraying them with a coat or two of glossy lacquer is the best way to go.

The final products hold plenty of tools, so many that David gave one cabinet to a friend, hence you only see two pictured here.

He estimates the three cabinets cost under $50 to complete, so a huge saving over the real thing.