How to take the drawers out of a Craftsman toolbox

I was organizing my toolbox when two of the drawers jammed. And people wonder why I’m so disorganized. Every time I try to organize, something like that happens. But anyway, it seems like finding out how to take the drawers out of a Craftsman toolbox is even harder than getting organized. Hopefully I can simplify that.

Most Craftsman toolboxes don’t use hand-operated tabs or levers like other brands. Craftsman toolboxes have a drawer stop that you can push in with a screwdriver after you extend the drawer as far as it will go. Push on the stop gently to avoid bending it too far. Once you push in the stop, it releases the drawer so you can pull it out the rest of the way.

Safety first

remove drawers from a Craftsman toolbox
To remove drawers from a Craftsman toolbox, extend the drawer, then push a screwdriver through the slot on the right until the stop releases. Repeat on the other side.

It’s best if you remove the contents first, so you don’t cause the toolbox to tip. An empty drawer is also much easier to handle. I didn’t, but I didn’t have anything heavy in the drawer either. Do as I say, not as I do, and then no one gets hurt.

Removing the drawers from a Craftsman toolbox

If you’ve lost your manual or your Craftsman tool chest never came with one, it may not be obvious how to remove the drawer.

I’ve seen a lot of people devise tricky mechanisms to disengage the stops on Craftsman toolbox drawers, usually working from the front. I wasn’t able to make that work, but I can see how it would work if you have the right sized screwdriver and you go in at an angle, then tilt the screwdriver down, perpendicular with the floor.

Here’s an easier way to take the drawers out of a Craftsman toolbox from the sides, using whatever screwdriver you have that fits in the slot.

When you look inside the drawer, you’ll see a U-shaped indentation in each side, near the top of the drawer. That’s the drawer stop.

Craftsman drawer stop
The indentation in the upper right of the photo is the drawer stop.

Pull the drawer out all the way, and you can feel the stop hit the sliders. To disengage the stop, pull the drawer out all the way, then insert the screwdriver into the slot in the slider. Assuming the drawer is out all the way, you won’t go far wrong by putting the screwdriver into the front of the slot, perpendicular to the drawer, and push. If you can’t get it, try pushing the drawer back a quarter inch, position your screwdriver in the middle of the slot, and push.

remove drawers from a Craftsman tool box
This isn’t necessarily the best angle to use, but here’s where to put your screwdriver to take out the drawers from a Craftsman toolbox.

Push gently against the stop to avoid damaging it. I overestimated how much force was necessary when I tried to remove my jammed drawer. And yeah, I ended up pushing the stop all the way inside the drawer. Don’t go all King Kong on your toolbox like I did. The stop is springier than it looks. It’s also weaker than it looks. Push gently while pulling on the front gently to see if it gives. If it doesn’t give, apply just a bit more force. Repeat until you feel the drawer release and slide forward. Then you can put down the screwdriver and pull the drawer out the rest of the way.

When I removed mine, I found the reason my drawers jammed. My favorite pair of pliers somehow found its way into the side of the toolbox and opened. So when you organize your toolbox, put your pliers in the middle, and don’t fill the compartments on the far left and far right very full.

Keeping it from happening again

Even though my mishap happened when organizing my tools, things like this are less likely to happen with some organization. Get or make some dividers, put tools like pliers in the lower divider or in the middle of your upper divider, and you lower the probability of this happening. Some people spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on toolbox organization, but you don’t have to. Here’s how to buy or make dividers cheaply.

Replacing the drawer in your Craftsman toolbox

Replacing the drawer is easier than getting it out in the first place. Extend the drawer slide bracket, then carefully align the drawer with the guides on the bracket. There’s enough leeway to align one side at a time. Once you align both sides and the drawer is straight and level, push the drawer in all the way. You’ll feel the drawer catch on its stops slightly before you push the drawer in all the way. Pull the drawer back out to make sure the stops are still operating correctly. Compare it with one of the other drawers. If the drawer doesn’t stop in its normal position on one or both sides, you damaged one or both of the stops. That’s fairly easy to fix.

How to fix the stop on your Craftsman toolbox

If you get carried away like I did and push the stop in too far, not all is lost. If you haven’t replaced the drawer yet, gently push the stop back out as best you can, using a screwdriver. Don’t push too hard. Once metal deforms, it becomes weaker and more brittle. This is called metal fatigue, and if you do this too many times, it will break. So it pays to work slowly. You don’t have to get it perfect, just get it close. Replace the drawer, then see if the stop operates. If it doesn’t, push the drawer back in slightly. Then push against the stop with your screwdriver from inside the drawer. When you feel a bump, it’s probably far enough.

If you’ve already replaced the drawer, rather than taking it back out, try gently pushing the stop outward toward the rail from the inside of the drawer. Working blind, the stop may not look quite like the others, but it should still function.

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