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Advice on refinishing old toolchest


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Established Member
6 Oct 2009
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Midlands, Ireland
I've just been given a tool chest and tool box, both of which belonged to my great grand uncle. Both are in good shape, some evidence of old woodworm damage , some of the ironmongery is tatty, but both are well made, with dovetailed joinery and quality details in evidence. I'd like to freshen up the external paintwork, which would allow me repair the worm holes and just give the tool boxes a chance to see another 75 years or more of life. I'm thinking along these lines:
1. I've injected all the old worm flight holes, will give another once over to be sure!
2. Sponge clean the interiors with sugar soap and water.
3. Remove external fittings and clean/ buff up, fit new hasp and staple etc.
4. Dry sand the exterior or remove the paint in it's entirety with a heat gun and scraper?
5. Prime, undercoat and mid-sheen gloss oil paint (black).
6. Wax the interior, job done.

It did occur to me that may it would be wrong to refinish and destroy the original look, but then again I think a carpenter in the last century wouldn't have thought twice about slapping on a bit of paint that he might have had to spare! I also think the wood is very dry and worn in parts and I think it would benefit from a bit of paint. These items are users and I plan to fill them with a mix of refurbed old (original to the boxes) and newer tools (my own set). Any thought or suggestions?


Max Power

Established Member
26 Mar 2007
Reaction score
County Durham
Nice bit of family history there, but they're not museum exhibits so I'd crack on and get them painted

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