What Is a Machinist's Chest?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 14 August 2019
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A machinist's chest, sometimes referred to as a machinist's toolbox, is a box made for storing tools and equipment used by machinists. As there are various types of machinists, a machinist's chest may vary in size and features to accommodate different needs. Most machinist's chests are made of wood or some type of metal, for durability and protection. The main purpose of a machinist's chest is to store, organize, and protect machinist equipment, which could otherwise become lost, stolen, or damaged.

Tools used by machinists must be kept in excellent working condition and free of dust, oil, or moisture that could cause potential damage. To store a machinist's tools safely, a toolbox may be made with felt-lined interior. Multiple slide-out drawers of various sizes are often used for a machinist's chest. Some drawers feature organized dividers for neatly storing everything from drill bits to measuring tools.

Wooden or metal machinist's chests are typically made with two or more latches. The latches are meant to secure the toolbox and prevent it from inadvertently being opened. A machinist's chest may also be equipped with a safety lock and key.


The major differences between a machinist's toolbox and a machinist's chest are size and portability. The machinist's toolbox is generally portable, and often includes a carrying handle. This makes it practical for on-the-go projects and travel. A machinist's chest is typically larger and not always portable. In many cases, however, a chest and toolbox may be serve the same basic function, although referred to by different names.

For the professional machinist, a chest and cabinet combination may be most helpful. These large models can store more equipment than a tabletop toolbox. Generally made with caster wheels and reinforced construction, this type of cabinet may be found in machinist workshops. Accessories for large machinist cabinets include plastic slide-out storage compartments that fit into the drawers.

Antique shops and auctions often have vintage style machinist's toolboxes for sale. Most are constructed of solid wood, which may be resurfaced. Original brass antique hardware often make these tool chests valuable.

Accessories and tools that are kept in machinist's chest may include telescopic and small hole gage sets, hermorphrodite calipers and thread wires. In addition to various tools necessary for a machinist's work, some prefer to keep first aid supplies in a machinist's chest as well. Professionals and non-professionals alike may prefer to keep a machinist's handbook in a drawer for easy reference while working.


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