Tool chest and tool restoration/care

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by Tim posted 02-05-2013 08:50 AM 6126 views 1 time favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Tim's profile


3859 posts in 3301 days

02-05-2013 08:50 AM

Topic tags/keywords: refurbishing question tool chest

I’ve been wanting to get into hand tool woodworking and I found a good deal on a tool chest that had most of the tools on my minimal hand tool list in it for under $200. I literally saved the tools from being sent along with the chest to an interior decorator to be desecrated as the guy I bought it from put it. Now that I have it I’ve got lots of questions on how best to restore and or care for the chest and the tools. The chest is in fairly rough shape and has sheet metal covering parts of it and metal brackets on the edges. It seems to be painted silver where there isn’t sheet metal. I’d be surprised if it’s worth much by itself or was even very old. The sheet metal has some rust, but mostly surface. Is the chest worth doing much to, or can someone recommend a simple treatment to keep it from deteriorating? Lacking any other ideas I think I’d throw some paste wax on the outside to slow down further rust.

Now for the tools. There’s 2 Disston & Sons saws, but they aren’t in great shape. The brace is in very good shape except for the fairly stable oxidation coating on the metal. It’s a Fulton, looks a lot like the one here. Various of the tools are in need of de-rusting, such as the plane irons and the brace bits. Is there anything in there that jumps out as valuable that I shouldn’t proceed with setting up an electrolysis tank?

The outside

side view and inside

The tools that were in it and the tills:

Finally some oddball tools I wasn’t quite sure what they were I put below. I also didn’t know what the plane on the long handle with the rotating head above was called or used for.

Thanks for looking, I’m excited to get these cleaned up and in top shape, so any ideas and links on how to proceed doing that the right way would be great. Like the Humble Hand Brace Guide but for everything. :)

21 replies so far

View paratrooper34's profile


916 posts in 4292 days

#1 posted 02-05-2013 11:55 AM

Tim, looks like you made a decent score there. I once contemplated getting a nice, old joiner’s chest to store my tools in. But I opted for a wall cabinet instead. I saw a lot of these chests while looking for one. Yours looks pretty utilitarian, which is probably a good thing as restoration and historic value don’t seem to be what you are looking for. For the chest, I would very simply cover it with a fresh coat of either milk paint or a milk paint like product and call the outside good. I would then clean up the inside by vacuuming and applying a new coat of BLO to hopefully get rid of the bigtime musty smell they all have. I would make any alterations to store tools I want to add. And that’s it. I would then use it to house my tools.

The nice thing about your chest is it is portable and makes your tools mobile. That portability can come in handy. Good Luck!

-- Mike

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17681 posts in 3958 days

#2 posted 02-05-2013 12:13 PM

Tim, you’ve made a great buy. Just for the planes (couple of blocks, coffin smoother, iron smoother, fore, wooden jointer) and chisels and saws/sawset you made break even. Add the chisels, bits & brace, etc. and it’s even better. Like getting that great old chest for free. Rulers, bevel gauges, drill driver, wow… And the lock on the chest would set you back $35 (at least) if you’d go to buy a new one. Hope you can find (or have made) a key!

Ditto what Mike said. Sand the metal parts and apply some primer to those. Then paint the whole thing a color of your choice. Lots of examples on the interweb, but black is common. I’ve done a series here on LJs to rehab a chest it’s not complete, but almost. Everything I could say about tool chests is already in that series, if you’re interested.

Good luck, great scrore! There are few ‘wrong ways’ to go, so have fun with your new toys.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View DouginVa's profile


503 posts in 3613 days

#3 posted 02-05-2013 12:39 PM

Nice find. If you’re referring to the top tool in you last pic (oddball tools), the one with the iron handle and what looks like spurs on it’s end, I believe that’s used to “dress” the stones on a bench grinder. You sit the spur end on the tool rest and run the spurs along the stone.

-- Just a man with his chisel.........

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 3347 days

#4 posted 02-05-2013 01:03 PM

Doug, you best me to it. That is indeed a stone dresser for an electric grinder. After using a grinding wheel, you’ll get grooves and ridges in the face of it, plus the edges will get pretty well rounded off. This wheel will flaten that stone and square up the face. I have one and it works great. I cant remember how many stones I replaced before I came across this tool

Just hold it firmly against the stone while sliding it back and forth with even pressure. The 2 little “feet” will hold it squarely against your tool rest.

It make A LOT OF SPARKS.... so be ready for that the first time you push it into the stone.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 3347 days

#5 posted 02-05-2013 01:05 PM

The red-handled wheel thingy is either a glue spreader, or perhaps just a small laminate roller for applying pressure when you glue laminate trim.

And I cant see them too clearly, but the 2 pliers MIGHT be hog-ring installers and removers?

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

4095 posts in 3591 days

#6 posted 02-05-2013 02:40 PM

Nice score! I got an old chest from a flea market that had a few tools in it, but nothing nice like you got. Black would make a nice color for the tool box, but you are the only one that needs to be pleased with the presentation.

Two of your saws look like skew backs—a closer pic of the tote and medallions would help the experts with identification. As for the unknown tools, in the middle of the picture it looks like you got a pair of nunchucks (jokingly).

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View JayT's profile


6450 posts in 3551 days

#7 posted 02-05-2013 02:48 PM

I also didn’t know what the plane on the long handle with the rotating head above was called or used for.

If you are referring to the red handled tool next to the block planes in the photo, it looks like a #70 box scraper.

Edit: Very cool chest and nice score on all of that for the price, by the way.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View Don W's profile

Don W

20288 posts in 3907 days

#8 posted 02-05-2013 02:54 PM

Nice score. I’d leave the chest alone. The patina is just right. If it needs any repairs, follow the Smitty school of chest repairs.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View paratrooper34's profile


916 posts in 4292 days

#9 posted 02-05-2013 03:56 PM

Don, excellent point….it does have a nice patina on it!

-- Mike

View Tim's profile


3859 posts in 3301 days

#10 posted 02-05-2013 06:31 PM

Thanks for all the comments guys, that’s a lot of ideas to follow up on. Mike, I’m interested in the historical value/preservation, but I just don’t know if it’s very old or authentic to be honest, and for the tools at least, thats a second priority to using them. Unless of course they are rare hidden gems that they don’t appear to be. The chest is only somewhat portable. The sheet metal covering and brackets make it 100 pounds or so empty.

Don W, I do like the patina it has, but I’m concerned about the rust progressing. When you say leave it alone, do you mean no protective at all?.

Smitty, what I assume is the key was indeed in one of the tills. It’s broken, but not at the important part so I’ll be able to make or have a new one made. Thanks for the rehab link. I’ll definitely have a look at that.

Joe & Doug, thanks for the ID on the other tools. Dressing wheel makes sense.

Don B, the middle of the three hand saws has no medallion, just some carving. The bottom one only says “Warranted superior” in the medallion with an eagle in the middle. I’ll try to get some better pictures when I get a chance. I didn’t realize the forum picture would scale it down so much.

Jay, the red handled tool, is indeed a box scraper, I finally figured that out last night after I posted, but before this was approved. I just noticed the blade says Stanley, but I can’t find any markings on the tool itself. Now I need to see if I can find another use for a box scraper. They are described as single use tools.

My biggest question besides what to do with the chest I guess is what to do first with the tools? De-rust them or clean and oil them?

Also, any idea, what the slots in the back of the bottom of the chest are set up for? The setups I’m more familiar with have either more space for molding planes or similar or much less for chisels and such.

View Surfside's profile


3389 posts in 3513 days

#11 posted 02-05-2013 07:15 PM

Great score! You’re lucky to have those!

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4925 days

#12 posted 02-05-2013 07:23 PM

I have seen several of those types of chests here in the uk marked as ex army surplus tool boxes-chests.They are very well made and you could with a little elbow grease make this a lovely old chest I wish you well. Have fun Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Ted78's profile


415 posts in 3340 days

#13 posted 02-05-2013 07:38 PM

Maybe someone beat me to it, but the thing with two cylinders is a old alcohol blow torch.

Nice find on the trunk and tools

-- Ted

View Tim's profile


3859 posts in 3301 days

#14 posted 02-05-2013 10:06 PM

Alcohol blow torch, that’s pretty cool. it does have some wicking inside the one cylinder. It’s a little surprising that it would work given that the metal it’s made out of isnt very thick. I’ll have to learn how to get it working and see how hot it can get. It’s in great shape.

View zwwizard's profile


215 posts in 5049 days

#15 posted 02-05-2013 10:56 PM

Re;Alcohol blow torch. Fill the tube with the curved tube with alcohol and the other tube saturate the packing with alcohol. light the tube with the packing and position the curved tube over if with the cap(if it has one) off. When the tube heats up you should see a flame shooting out of the tube. Make sure the the tube has a good seal on it or you will have a hand full of fire. (don’t ask) The unit will do light silver soldering jobs.

-- Richard

showing 1 through 15 of 21 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics