Tool and hobby storage: Gerstner’s Hobby Roller Cabinet

Basements and garages are places where tools and hobby supplies can easily become overwhelming if proper storage doesn’t exist. My husband loves woodworking (he makes stringed instruments and large furniture), and his tools are starting to outgrow his current storage system. I’ve been searching for solutions that can best suit his needs, and I’ve fallen in love with the Gerstner GI-R530 Hobby Roller Cabinet:

From the GI-R530′s product description:

  • Removable locking bar on drawers
  • 2 Swivel locking wheels, 2 Stationary wheels
  • Metal, full extension drawer slides – rated for 60 lbs
  • Collapsible side work table
  • Polished chrome plated hardware
  • Felt lined drawers for cushioned storage

The cabinet retails for $569, so I haven’t yet ordered the unit. I feel that this cabinet is certainly worth its price, I just need to decide if it’s right for my budget. Valentine’s Day is on the horizon …

For smaller and larger storage chests, some rolling and some fixed location, check out Gerstner’s full inventory.

21 Comments for “Tool and hobby storage: Gerstner’s Hobby Roller Cabinet”

  1. posted by Anne on

    Erin, I love the way you research products as a solution to a particular clutter problem, and always find some beautiful-looking items. I think it’s a little ironic that since I uncluttered and stopped buying and owning so much stuff, I actually get far more pleasure out of shopping since every item is something I love and really feels like a good buy.

  2. posted by Michele on

    Just a note- my husband is also a woodworker and has a zillion tools that were all over the garage. I flipped through his ‘Woodworker’s Journal’ and found something similar to the item you have in the photo. I hinted to my husband that it might make a good woodworking project for him to make sure his tools were stored properly. He enthusiastically agreed and made one! He also got inspired to make a workbench/storage area that is just beautiful, very functional for a woodworker, and it gave me room to park my 4×4 pickup in the garage in the winter :) Instead of buying one, ask him to make one! Woodworkers love making things; sometimes they need to make things for themselves! It’s a LOT less expensive than buying one, too I might add.

  3. posted by Mike on

    Wow… I mean, I LIKE it, but I don’t know if I like it as much as I like having half a grand in cash.

  4. posted by Keter on

    ::DROOL:: OMGosh I love that cabinet. My husband gave me a small bench top oak cabinet similar to this one for a jewelry box and I love it. He has a similar cabinet for his hobby, making reproduction colonial and civil war arms. They are lifetime purchases. Snap-on Tools roll cabinets, which are red-painted metal, cost more than twice as much as this one and are not something I will allow to live in the house…this I would.

  5. posted by Natasha on

    My honey has a very old Gerstner, handed down from his father. One of the chests. Let me tell you this thing is one of the absolute BEST workboxes you can find, anywhere. They all come with lifetime warranties. Gerstner will refinish them and replace hardware and felt, and are *happy* to do so. People come up to his carts in malls and say “Is that a Gerstner??” I’m sure I’ll be able to pry that chest out of his cold dead hands…. maybe.

  6. posted by wrennerd on

    Out of curiosity, what kinds of stringed instruments does PJ make??

  7. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @wrennerd — Guitars (electric hard bodies and acoustics) and ukuleles. I think a mandolin is up as his next project. He’s currently making a set of chairs, though, so I don’t think he’s started the mandolin yet.

  8. Avatar of

    posted by lucy1965 on

    Erin, my neighbor across the alley is a luthier and he considers the Gerstners grave goods: Deena says that if he dies before her, she’s going to put them all on a pyre and toss John on top. I’m pretty sure she’s kidding about that, but he clearly loves them and thinks they’re worth every penny.

  9. posted by Booknerd on

    Gerstner does make some lovely tool chests, but I wonder if your husband would be entirely happy with the drawer dimensions of this particular chest.
    The shallow depth 13 1/4″ (front to rear) seems likely to make it difficult to organize his tools in a compact, efficient and logical manner.

    “Seem likely” is of course a surmise based on the tools I typically see in the tool chests of guys I know who do wood working as a hobby. I could easily be way off and you’ve already picked out the perfect chest for you husband’s particular set of tools.

    For what it’s worth – when purchasing tool chests I’ve found it helpful cut up newspaper to match the drawer bottoms of a prospective chest – in this instance
    - four 18 3/8″ by 13 1/4″ bottoms
    - two 7 7/8″ by 13 1/4″ bottoms
    and attempt to arrange the tools intended for the chest on those sheets (being mindful of respective drawer heights).
    This quickly tells me if the prospective chest is -
    A) Perfect!
    B) Perfectly adequate.
    C) More or less adequate.
    D) Just doesn’t fill the bill.

    Strictly in the for what it’s worth department: metal tool boxes are never as pretty as wood, but they pack considerably more usable tool storage in to similar overall dimensions. Compare for instance a Waterloo WI-700

    Gerstner 23.75″ wide; 17.0″ deep; 33.5″ high (18.4″ x 13.25 drawers)
    Waterloo 26.50″ wide; 18.1″ deep; 35.6″ high (22.37″ x 16.46″ drawers)

    If you live near a Menard’s (I think they’re mostly just in the Mid-west & central US), their Master Force line of tool chests are worth looking at and are very reasonably priced.

  10. posted by Another Deb on

    I love the idea that this (or the one I like from the website, the large rolling chest) would do double duty as a kitchen island.

    Those of you with limited storage and counter area could spend the same for a kitchen island but never have the option to place a rolling kitchen island in the basement/garage for tools when you move to a house.With this item you can configure your home a few different ways.

  11. posted by Marjoryt on

    I agree it’s a wonderful piece of furniture and probably worth the price. However, is it the piece he needs?

    There is NOTHING worse than using an item that doesn’t quite suit, and being obligated to love such an expensive present. That’s happened to me with the guitar I play (I now consider lessons a duty) and a “sewing cabinet” that was barely large enough for my sewing machine, much less any fabric. For some things (especially the ones for my job and my hobby), it’s better for me to pick my own.

  12. posted by Peter Drew on

    I don’t want to burst your bubble, and buying tool storage sounds very useful, however…you seem to have adopted a very feminine view of what is required!

    Yes, the example you have selected looks nice but in a garage or shed? Will you seriously have people over to gaze at and admire the storage… Speaking as a man, there is no need for my tool storage to look beautiful but it has to be practical and functional. There are many other tool storage options out there that are cheaper, stronger, lighter and better suited to the purpose than this wooden pageant piece. The price as well, in my opinion, is excessive – especially for a valentine’s gift and not for a true celebration such as a birthday or anniversary. I think you could buy something that does the job better for less and that your husband will love just as much. Then you can utilise the money you save for something else and more memorable/meaningful.

    I hope I haven’t upset your plans too much but please consider if you are looking at this item as something to furnish your home or as something that will in fact become covered in dust, oil, dirt, scratches and spiders in the garage. In this instance it is the latter and I don’t believe the choice is the right one. Anyway, just my opinion and whatever you decide I hope your husband likes your choice!

  13. posted by Ali on

    These are fantastic ideas Erin. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Peter — We actually don’t have a garage. Nor an actual basement. We have a room on our first floor that houses heater, washing machine, dryer, freezer, water heater, bicycles, golf clubs, holiday decorations, and tools. The tool storage solution must be able to roll out to the front patio of the house, since no work can be done inside the house. What equipment have you found that is well built, has heavy-duty casters, a work surface on top, and provides ample storage for less than this? I haven’t found any. Other suggestions are welcome.

  15. posted by JustGail on

    It’s interesting how many of us (myself included) assumed you had a garage or basement when the topic of woodworking came up. The need to wheel it outside adds another requirement I hadn’t considered.

    I like the suggestion that your DH make his own. Then he could make the drawers suit his current and future tool collection.

  16. posted by Peter Drew on

    Hi Erin, I have used these in my workshop for many years:

    They are also modular so you can add an extra tool box which can be removed to provide additional work surface, support, etc. There are many variations and plenty on ebay too. They are all well constructed, albeit from metal. My problem with the wooden versions is that they are bulky and waste space because you need thicker materials to provide the same strength as a metal storage solution. The design is ubiquitous and adaptable and you can find these in the USA too – many of my friends have them there.

    I hope the information is useful to you, please let us know what you eventually settle on in the end and how it works out!

  17. posted by John on


    Third generation woodworker here. I’m going to strongly caution you against this purchase, though I’m admitting up front that I have no alternative proposal for your husband’s specific situation. The major problem with this piece (besides its pretty staggering cost) is that while it might store items well, it’s going to be an absolutely terrible work surface, for a few reasons:

    –It’s on wheels, which means two things: 1.) it needs to be up against a wall for stability, and 2.) any horizontal exertion against the work as it sits on top (hand planing, chiseling, sanding–not sure which of these he does regularly) will put a huge amount of force/stress on whatever means the wheels are connected to the bottom with (my guess is screws between 1 1/4 inches and 1 1/2 inches long–they will loosen). On the web page you link to, it has a listed weight of 89 pounds; even with tools inside, that is simply not heavy enough to be a work surface. Exerting any pressure on the work will mean he’ll be pushing the cart all over the patio. Even if you do get it secured, or if the wheels lock, you’ll be stressing the casters with force in a direction they were not intended to take, and you’ll have an expensive, beautiful, wobbly toolchest.

    –I’m not an instrument maker, but I do make everything from small boxes to pieces of furniture ranging from small shelves to large cabinets. There is simply no stable surface on this for secure clamping. The small side table is the only viable option, but it’s only supported by a single small board. What is his current work surface? My guess is that he continues to use whatever he has been using, and this becomes storage only.

    A running joke in the woodworking world is that these kinds of things are intended to be sold and not used, because they’re practically impossible to actually use as intended/marketed. A solution like this cannot possibly be used for both work and storage, because the major features of each compete with one another: work surfaces need to be stable, heavy and immobile for both safety and work reasons, and mobile storage needs to be light and, well, mobile.

    I use hand tools, predominantly, and I’m guessing your husband does as well if you have no dedicated shop (basement, garage or otherwise) for him to work and/or store larger power tools. As one hand tool woodworker to another, I can assure you that he will not be able to actually use this easily. I’m not sure if this was intended to be a surprise purchase or not, but I’d encourage you to talk to him and figure out what he does not like about his current setup, and separate the list into two columns: work surface and storage. My guess is that, as an earlier commenter suggested, he makes his own.


  18. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @John — For what it’s worth, he wouldn’t use the top as a work area. It would also be for storage. He has a folding work table.

  19. posted by Malcolm on

    Looks good, but pricey. I use a small cabinet (about the size of the Gerstner, by the look of it) made by IKEA! It has great rollers under it, a laminex top, and 4 drawers two of which are fitted with cutlery dividers. It was in our kitchen at one time, for years – worked a treat as a mobile food prep bench – and recent years it has been a tool storage unit and occasional light work area on top, although as someone has already said, for serious work you need something without wheels. I think this IKEA unit cost about $100.

  20. posted by Shalin on

    Awesome – want :)

  21. posted by Milli on

    What did you decide Erin…? I’d love to know if you got this for your husband and if he loves it too – pictures please!!

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