How to restore a rusty toolbox

Date:20 September 2016 Tags:, , , , ,

Instructables user Seamster found a rusty toolbox at a thrift store and decided to take it home. Although the box was structurally sound, Seamster decided to give it a make-over.

Here’s how he did it:

Take the rusty toolbox apart

The drawers, slides, handle and latches were removed. A drill was used in areas where a rivet held a part in place. Once all the parts were removed, everything was scrubbed with degreasing soap and hot water. Thereafter the box was thoroughly rinsed and dried.

Strip away the paint and rust

Seamster decided to strip the paint and rust mechanically. He found abrasive paint and rust stripping discs worked the best for removing the rust.

Take note that removing rust can be harmful, so take precaution and wear protective equipment. Seamster noted he wore goggles, a breathing mask and ear muffs for safety.

Clean and prime the toolbox

Once all the rust has been removed and the toolbox and its parts are dry, wipe it down with a clean cloth to remove the last lingering rust particles. Once everything was perfectly clean, he wiped all the parts down with a clean rag dampened with denatured alcohol.

The toolbox case and drawers were then painted with Rust-Oleum gray primer spray.

Wait and paint

Once the primer dried completely, the box was painted with several thin coats of blue paint.

Treat the slides

Seamster removed all the rust from the slides with a wire wheel using his rotary tool. The slides were then painted with primer.

Clean up the handles and latches

The main handle and latch parts of Seamster’s toolbox were made of plated metal and the drawer handles were made of aluminium. He used a wire wheel in his rotary tool to remove the surface rust and loose plating. Thereafter the parts were sprayed with  and then hit these parts with a light coat of Rust-Oleum chrome paint. For now the aluminium handles were cleaned but not polished.

Get creative

Seamster decided to add some “racing stripes” to the toolbox. He waited 24 hours after painting the coats of blue paint to start with the stripes. He began by laying out painter’s tape very carefully to mask off some internal stripes he wanted to keep blue and added masking paper to cover larger areas of the toolbox as well.

Paint the stripes

Here’s a clever painting tip: After laying out the painter’s tape, cover the area with a coat of base colour. In this case it was blue. The first coat seals the edges of the tape and prevents “bleed-under” from the coats of white paint.

Once the blue coat was dry, Seamster panted the white layer and removed the tape while the paint was still wet.

Let it dry

“This is the hardest part of a project like this,” says Seamster. “It’s tempting to just wait till the paint is dry to the touch and replace all the hardware… I recommend setting the recently painted items in a clean, non-dusty place and just leaving them alone for a few days for the paint to harden.”

Put the toolbox back together

After a good couple of hours he put back the drawer slide panels and greased and fitted the slides. The handles and latches were also put back using small bolts and rivets for the latches. Seamster also added some drawer liners to keep it all clean.

For more information on this rusty toolbox project, head over to the Instructables website by clicking here.

Image credit: Seamster


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