If you share any of my obsessive compulsive instincts, then you too find happiness in the bliss of an organized garage. Unfortunately, you might also share my reality of rarely having the garage in a fully organized state. Many moons ago, Gladiator Garageworks sent us some of their gear to help us get a better handle on organizing the chaotic garage / Home Fixated Global Headquarters. I reviewed the Gladiator Bamboo Workbench, and have had the Gladiator GearDrawer and Gladiator Locker in testing for what might be one of our slowest review turn-arounds ever! If you struggle with organizing your shop or garage and all the “toolicious” goodness that goes into it, read on for our review of a stylish way to get a handle on the chaos.
Gladiator Garageworks Locker
Let’s kick things off with the locker. The go-to garage storage solution that many people opt for is wire shelving. Some form of open shelving can be found in most shops and garages. On the plus side, you can see exactly what you’re storing (unless it’s in bins). The downside is that all the dust, dirt and debris that might get kicked up in your garage ultimately settles on all your stuff. If you use bins on the shelves, then you have solved the dust problem, but you likely have no idea where anything is. And good luck getting that small part out of the bottom of the giant bin you stowed it in months ago! My personal take: bins are great for storing stuff that you access once a year or less, like holiday decor. Bins are horrible for anything else you want regular access to.
The Gladiator Garageworks Locker solves these storage problems in an elegant way. The doors present a clean and neat appearance while keeping the dust out, and simply opening the doors lets you take a quick visual inventory to find what you need. They also have the added benefit of security since they come standard with a locking mechanism. The likelihood that some obnoxious tool thief is going to casually carry a Gladiator Locker out of your garage or shop is pretty low.
Speaking of transporting your goods. . . the Gladiator Locker does come with casters (although you can wall-mount the lockers too). This is another clear advantage over most garage shelving systems. If you decide to reconfigure your garage layout, it’s a matter of unlocking the heavy duty casters and rolling your stowed gear to its new nook. One thing we would have liked to see is a method of leveling the gear locker once it’s in place.
Our garage floor is about as level as a mountain range, so I was left with two horrific options: 1) Simply leave the gear locker in its unlevel state, only to awake from a recurring nightly nightmare in which I check the locker for level. . . and the bubble is pinned on the far side of the vial. 2) Take a wood shim, achieve level, and then snap away the excess shim. I went with option two, which was less traumatic for me mentally. Of course, if you have a level garage (or, shudder, you don’t care about the locker being level), the lack of leveling feet probably won’t be much of an issue for you.
Gladiator Locker Assembly
Assembly of the Gladiator Locker is pretty easy. I recommend keeping some of the packaging so you can lay the locker on its back without scratching it or your fancy epoxy flooring up. Some included bolts get slipped into their respective nooks before securing the casters to the bottom of the locker. You’ll also need to install / adjust the shelving, which is also straight-forward given the tabs for the moveable shelves on the sides of the locker. Assembly is so minimal, you’ll be gleefully stowing your gear in no time.
Gladiator Locker Functionality
It’s a locker, so this isn’t going to be a long paragraph. Due to the lock design, you’ll need to close one side before the other to secure the doors. Although it’s a detail you need to pay attention to when closing the door, it also creates a nice overlapping closure so you don’t have a big gap between the doors. A magnetic strip (more recently replaced with more narrow magnetic closures), provide a pleasing secure closing of the doors. Closing the Gladiator Locker is a bit like the satisfying thud you get when closing a high quality car door.
Gladiator included a narrow pegboard which runs vertically down the center of each door. We haven’t bothered putting anything on there. Just about anything we’d want to put on a pegboard would either fall off when operating the doors, or would manage to obstruct closing of the doors due to contact with the shelving. Although I wasn’t feeling the pegboard love, it looks cool, and if you find a use for it, more power to you!
Gladiator Garageworks GearDrawer
Chances are (since you’re reading Home Fixated), you probably like tools. In fact, you probably like tools A LOT. While just about every major power tool brand is recognizing the value of modular storage solutions to transport tools (Bosch LBoxx, Festool Systainer, DeWalt TStak, etc.), there are some tools and some garages where the tools don’t need to travel far. For many DIY weekend warriors’ garages or workshops, it’s more about organizing tools, keeping them stowed away but also making sure they’re highly accessible. That’s where the Gladiator GearDrawer steps in.
Unpackaging the Gladiator GearDrawer
I have seen a lot of product packaging in my day, but the crox (combination of crate and box, yes I’m coining that), that the Gladiator GearDrawer came in was impressive. The base was formed with bolted-together 2x material, strategic padding, cutouts for the forklift, and a nice, heavy duty box. As a result, the GearDrawer showed up in excellent condition, despite the miles it travelled to the Global HQ. Unpacking the GearDrawer was almost as easy as assembly.
Gladiator GearDrawer Assembly
Thanks to the packaging which protected the already assembled casters, assembly on the Gladiator GearDrawer is pretty minimal. A handle gets bolted on with four bolts, some bumpers get attached to the corners, and finally, pre-cut drawer liners get dropped into each drawer. I like that they include the liners for the drawers. It’s not rocket science to cut your own, but the fact that Gladiator Garageworks pre-cuts them for you makes assembly that much faster and easier. The liners keep your tools and accessories from sliding around, and generally keep you and your tools happy.
The Gladiator Premier GearDrawer sports a total of 12 drawers, including one immense full-width drawer at the top. There’s also an extra-deep drawer on the bottom right which is great for storing particularly bulky tools and gear in. Mine holds a circular saw and more. Action on the drawer glides is buttery-smooth and the drawers are full extension to make sure no tool gets left behind or forgotten at the rear of the drawers.
Like the Gladiator Gear Locker we discussed above, heavy-duty casters make moving the GearDrawer as easy as can be. The integrated handle helps prevent smashed fingers, and it gives you a nice place to grip when rolling what is likely hundreds of pounds of tools from point A to point B. You’ll want to install the handle on the same side as the two swivel casters by the way. Also like the Gear Locker, your precious tools and gear can be locked up if desired. Most importantly, the GearDrawer provides quick access to the tools you need, when you need them.
There are lots of garage and shop storage solutions out there, and I have tried several. In my experience, the budget storage solutions out there tend to underwhelm. Flimsy and sloppy drawer glides, thin-walled metal, and one-size-fits-all drawers can make using budget storage options unpleasant. Long term durability on the cheap options are questionable, and many of them simply don’t look very good. Like other Gladiator Garageworks storage solutions, the Gladiator Gear Locker and GearDrawer look good in just about any garage or shop environment. If you’re willing to spend a few extra bucks, you might be able to enjoy the bliss of a neat, orderly garage or shop, at least for a few minutes!
The Gladiator Gear Locker retails for under $300, and the Gladiator GearDrawer about $569. You can find them at HomeDepot.com, Sears, and other major retailers.