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Project Information

This is a 1940s Union Machinist's Chest on which I have done a complete restoration. It is made from flat sawn oak (red oak, I think). I removed the old finish by scraping it off and followed that up with sanding. I made repairs where I deemed it necessary, seeking to retain as much of the original as possible. For example, a crack at the edge of the raised panel of the door was irreparable. Rather than make a whole new panel, I removed only as much as necessary and spliced in a replacement piece.



I stained the wood Golden Oak and finished it with 3 coats of varnish and a coat of wax.
I de-rusted all hardware, buffed it with a wire wheel and topped it off with a protective sealant. With the exception of rivets and a few screws, the bulk of the hardware is original to the chest as received by me. The worn but legible "Union Steel Chest Corp." decal remains on one of the drawers. I am quite certain the door pull is not original to the case as it is rectangular, not circular. Also, the mirror frame is original but the mirror itself is new and, as there was no chain, I installed one. There was no key but I managed to secure one that, after some adjusting, is functional. I replaced the old leather from the handle and hand-stitched it.




The old green felt has been replaced with new. I added feet to the bottom of the chest to protect both the chest and any surface on which it may be placed. Photo #6 is a before and after shot.

The provenance of the chest is as follows. The original owner was an engineer for the General Electric Company. He used the chest for work. The second owner inherited the chest from the wife of the first owner who had died. He intended to restore it but never got around to it and so decided to sell it. I purchased the chest from him. Cleaned up and fixed up, this antique chest is ready for years of continued use.

Gallery

Comments

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These old chests are treasures, glad you did the restoration. Nice work.
 

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Beautiful restoration.
 

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nice work good for another 80 years.
 

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Beautiful restoration Lenny, great work on all aspects - wood, metal & leather. The before & after picture shows the vast amount of work which you were required to invest, fantastic.

One question if I might, what were you referring to when saying the door pull isn't original due to its rectangular shape in lieu of being round? The photos of the door show what my limited knowledge of such things indicates to be like those I've seen prior. Not sure if you're talking about the rectangular back plate or the round pull.

In any event, great work, this chest looks like new.
 

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Tom, below is a photo of an original door pull for this type of chest. My guess is that it became loose through repeated use and the original owner lost it and so replaced it with what he could find/get.

 

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James E McIntyre, this was my first attempt at any leather stitching. I found a YouTube video that seemed to fit the bill. They referred to it as a saddle stitch.
 

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So cool that you took the time and effort to restore this treasure. I especially like the care in making the leather wrapping on the handle. It's so nice to walk are the shop and not only see the things we made but the ones we salvage, so much gratification come from conservation. Great work my friend in woodworking!
 

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Great restoration, really like the old prices.
 

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Thank you to all who have commented. Wilson, it's so great to hear from you my friend!
 

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wow editors choice,congrats,dont see many of those.
 

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A real treasure!

Having all the hardware is a huge advantage. Original quality is nearly impossible to find today without spending $$$

Great yo could preserve so much of the original!
 

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If he worked in upstate NY for GE, he was working in Schenectady. Leroy, NY where the chest was made, was no more than 50-75 miles west from there.

Lovely restoration. If you know the original owner's name, a small "in memorium" brass plaque might be in order. Beautifully done.
 

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great job. the restoration saved a piece of history, and it's beautiful. And you get to enjoy it daily.
 

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Many thanks for the kind comments.
 

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Thank you Bob
 
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