RFID Toolbox ideas

Saw a couple people modify their toolboxes to open with RFID so that got me thinking. I’m a machinist, but in not too handy with electronics. Here’s the inside of my Kennedy rolling toolbox- a tubular lock raises this rack about 3/8 of an inch to unlock. All I need to do is figure out a mechanism to raise it from the bottom. It does take a bit of force to lift it, maybe 10-20lbs. The good part is I can raise it independently of it being locked, so the key would make a good backup if the batteries died. Any suggestions on the simplest way to lift this rack? I will use the xEM access control and program my work keycard until I can get my xEM installed.



I considered this when I built my magic toolbox. It’ll work fine. They only disadvantage is that you’ll need to let yourself in for every drawer opening, unless you use the manual unlock.

You just need a 12V solenoid capable of lifting the rod. Automotive door lock solenoids come to mind. Also cheap and plentiful.

You COULD build it with a self latching relay, but that’s gonna burn up the battery holding it open.
You MIGHT be able to find a solenoid that will toggle between extended and retracted and hold position without power.


I wasn’t aware that there were solenoids that hold their position without power. I would really like to set it up so it alternates between locked and unlocked and stays that way, since I leave it unlocked all day.

I have a little over 2 inches of empty space under the bottom drawer to put batteries and electronics, but I don’t think there’s enough space under the rack to mount a vertical solenoid or anything. My thought so far was possibly using a linear actuator laying perpendicular that could push it up with a cam.

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I was thinking more mount on the back inside, behind the drawers, parralel to the locking bar. Will require a thinnish solenoid, but possible.

Google says the proper term is “latching solenoid”. When I searched I got a bunch of air/hydraulic solenoids and starter type solenoids in the mix too.

Try looking at this. Don’t know if it’s suitable, but it gives the idea.

Picking a solenoid will be the hardest part.


Oh, I like that idea, especially since solenoids seems to work much faster than linear actuators. I’ll start looking.

Brain Fart.

You could effectively duplicate the way the latching solenoid works.
Install an automotive lock solenoid to Lift or Retract the lock rod.
Add a permanent magnet so that the lock bar gets “stuck” in the lifted position.

In operation, you swipe to lift the lock bar, which gets stuck to the magnet. Box is held open.
You swipe again, and the lock bar is pulled off the magnet into the closed position.

Disadvantage. the mechanical (key) lock would be unable to lock the box, as the magnet will override it, unless the solenoid is used to pull it off.

I should probably also mention that with either method you have to be able to reverse the polarity on the wires every other swipe to produce a lock or unlock event. This isn’t difficult, but if electronics aren’t your thing, then figure out the solenoid first, and we’ll walk you through the electro-tronical parts.


I just had a thought, since many of those slots in the locking rack aren’t used ( depends on the height of each drawer) I could hook a spring into one of the slots to reduce the force required to lift it.

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Just don’t make it too easy, or somebody could bump the box around and get the drawer to open.

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@Devilclarke PCB add on for the xAC might just do this for you.

Your imperial measurements slowed my thought process down somewhat…
Anyway, I’m glad @ODaily saw your post as he has all the relevant information to help you.
It sounds like you may have the makings of a good plan anyway.

My initial thought was an solenoid with a spring to assist the lift but it would take some tinkering to “get it just right”.

If you did want some more suggestions.
Can you take some more photos or share a link to your exact toolbox model.


Unfortunately not, I am working on a programmable add on to the xAC though (or a custom reader entirely not sure which yet) that will allow you to do what ever you like.


Kennedy toolboxes are hands down the most popular / common amongst machininsts, in the states anyways. The old timer who trains you has one, so that’s what you want too. Plus they’re really well built.
End result is that most people who have been around machine shops tend to take for granted that everyone else just knows what they’re talking about.


Perhaps an Ikea Rothult RFID/NFC lock could do the trick? Doesn’t seem overly complicated either to install or to use.


That .gif is awesome

Sorry @Devilclarke, I meant to say that it was still a work in progress.
Does kennedy only make ONE model of the rolling toolchest, If so I have access to one but it is at my work and I’m on lockdown.


A bunch of different ones. The construction is pretty much universal.

What I was trying to convey is that if you’ve been around a bunch of them for years, it just seems like common knowledge, even though it’s not.


Tool box is similar to this one

There’s 2" of dead space to use in the bottom, plus 1" on the sides and top, so plenty of room to house things or run wires.

If I use a solenoid it would have to stay up under load without drawing power.


I started machining in 1995. With a kennedy 297. Before ball bearing slides were really a thing.


you want to look at a bi-stable solenoid then.

EDIT: actually on reflection the circuit i drew up could work, give me a couple minutes :wink:

Right here we go

So this circuit is based off my other circuit which gives you a toggling output from a valid scan output of the xAC.

However what you would do rather than conncting the remote buttons you would add the below circuit.

This circuit uses the 2 toggling outputs to dive 2 relays that will in turn toggle your solenoid.
Use this type of solenoid and this type of relay and you should be golden. Note parts linked are only as guidance and may not actually work but the important thing is the type of part. Also worth pointing out door lock solenoids are bi-stable so definitely go for them!

Full circuit for completeness.


Haha, Yeah I got you, I didn’t realize Kennedy was “The Standard”
I think we have Kennedys But we definately have, Teng, SnapOn, ToolPro, A bunch of cheap Chinese ones, ShoGun, GV Tools, etc.

And We never lock our tool chests anyway.
@ODaily , do you think @WDTSF could use
the Solenoid lock / latch you used


I think the difference is that @ODaily toolbox had a lift top that in turn when closed locked the draws using a link bar at the back whereas @WDTSF tool chest is drawers only so that isn’t an option.


That pretty much nailed it. The solenoid I used is totally wrong for a drawer only chest.

There are a bunch out there that are right, it’s just gonna be finding an appropriate one and fitting it.

Never heard of Teng. Snap-on is “The Standard” for auto mechanics. At least those trying to be flashy.