Salvaging a Small Parts Storage Chest

One Man's Trash...

If you remember, a week ago I posted about the rip saw I salvaged from my neighbor's trash pile created as he was cleaning out his basement for the first time in at least 20 years.  Well, not only did I gain a rip saw, I also picked up a little four-drawer storage chest.  It was old and dirty, but well built so I thought maybe it would clean up okay.  Let's find out!

Obviously Homemade

This little chest was clearly self-made, and I'm guessing it's considerably older than 20 years.  My first clue that this chest was homemade is that, when you look closely you can see that the bottom of each drawer is affixed beneath the face of the drawer rather than tucked behind the face.  But, absolutely no big deal!

The next clue was the drawer pulls.  They were mismatched, as one of them was a generic metal pull, which means absolutely nothing, but the other drawer pulls were incredibly beautiful glass pulls:

Obviously, with a little cleanup they'd be gorgeous.  Also obvious, I'm saving those for some future, as yet unknown project.  Before we move on, I want to give an example of the level of craftsmanship that went into this chest.  Take a look at this rabbet:

That's pretty accurate!  Somehow I neglected to take pictures of such points of notice before I got into the project.

Idea and Plan

When I decided to adopt this chest, I had in mind that I could use it to store stuff.  I don't know if I would refer to it as a toolbox, but I did think some tools might end up in it.  Rather, I thought it would make a nice place to store supplies - I just didn't know which supplies yet!  But the plan was simple - clean it up and paint it.  Done.  In fact, that's practically what I did, with a couple twists.  Here it is, waiting for me to get past the planning phase:

The Handles

Like I said earlier, the pull knobs on the chest were those beautiful glass ones, but there were only three, one drawer have some generic little knob on it.  While there is nothing fancy about this chest, I did want it to look respectable.  I have a case on the workshop wall that has small bins, and one of those bins holds knobs that I've collected and kept over the years, having been removed from any number of projects.  Looking through that bin I found the perfect set.  They came off a laundry room cabinet that was inherited with the house.   Here's the before and after of that little project...

So I pulled those handles out and cleaned them up with soap and water then Plastex plastic polisher.  To be honest, I'm a little surprised how nicely the plastic polisher worked!

I also removed the rust from those little discs that go on the back of the knobs, then polished them to somewhat of a shine...


Then it came time to wrestle with the color.  Obviously, the original brown had to go.  When I first rescued the chest, I thought I would paint it a Kelly green.  That thought came from the book case on the front porch made right here at 173 from scrap wood and an old basement window.  

But to be honest, that thought lasted about one evening.  And, if you've been following ol' House 173 for the past few months, you're all too aware that I've fallen into a "signature" color - Krylon Cherry Red.  

So of course this chest had to be cherry red too, right?  Well, yes and no.  It is cherry red, but it has nothing at all to do with the recent tool restorations.

Instead, this time it's because red is the color of my rolling tool boxes (one is actually gray and red - for now), so for the sake of uniformity - cherry red it was!

The question is not what you look at, but what you see. - Henry David Thoreau


Once the paint dried it was time to put it back together and finish making it, not just functional, but respectable too.  First the new old stuff pull knobs went on.  Of all the reasons I like these knobs, my favorite is that they have these little strips of metal that, in a way, allude to the metal strips on my rolling tool chest drawers,  The bring a sense of cohesion - if that makes sense!

Pretty much the only other embellishment on the uber simple chest is drawer liners.  One project I'm doing right now is lining the drawers of my rolling tool chest.  After I cut the neoprene (what whatever combination of chemicals the liners are made of) I always have some scraps.  These were just big enough to line the four drawers in this chest.  Here's a shot of the second drawer down that conveniently has a couple dividers...


I don't know exactly what will go in this chest, but I've already found one use!  I decided to use the drawer with the dividers to hold all the little accessories for my rotary tool, like sanding drums, wire wheels and various mandrels, parts and pieces.

Without a doubt, over time I'll grow into this little chest, filling it up with whatever goo-gaws come my way!

It's Natural Habitat

I don't want to overload my primary workbench, so I figured I'd stow it right next to my drill press on the work bench in the main part of the basement...

Obviously this old chest isn't perfect.  It has dents and dings, and the end grain of the drawer bottoms show.  But that's right up my alley.  I'm full of dents and dings, haven't been perfect - ever, and a fresh coat of paint doesn't hurt.  But it's sturdily built and useful!  Hopefully - like me.

Thanks for stopping by!
Next Post Previous Post