Make an Old Toolbox New Again

Make an Old Toolbox New Again


Depressed by the utter unmanliness of the plastic toolboxes at my local hardware store, I headed to the flea market to see if I could do better. I was looking for a heavy-duty hunk of American steel. It didn’t take long to spot a real beauty … if you find rust and worn paint to be beautiful. But how could I resist a box labeled “Park Manufacturing Co?” After talking the seller down to $13, the old beast was mine. None of the rust seemed to be below surface level. Time to take it home, sand it down to the metal, and bring it back to its original glory.



  • Dremel Multi-Max or other oscillating tool/sander with sander attachment, and sanding pads.
  • Dremel Rotary Tool and wire wheel. You could use sandpaper and wire brushes instead if needed.
  • Shop cloths or old t-shirts
  • Masking tape
  • Primer
  • Ruste preventative enamel spray paint
  • Spray truck liner
  • Safety goggles
  • Dust Mask
  • Goggles

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14 thoughts on “Make an Old Toolbox New Again

  1. giessfoermchen says:

    I hate plastic, although the world don´t live any more without plastic is conceivable. If I had had the luck to find this splendour piece on a flea market, I would have bought it also immediately. Then the plastic tool box would have become for me and my workshop an adornment. One must fancy this once….. a box labeled “Park Manufacturing Co” for $ 13? He is even more worth and actually unaffordable.

  2. An4h0ny says:

    Hear me roar.

  3. Josh Kopel says:

    The after is nice and all, but the before wears it’s working history proudly! I would have just wiped it down and filled it full of tools.

    1. Simon says:

      I second that notion. I think it looked great all battered and bruised. Still, nice job restoring it if that’s your bag, errr, box.

      Also a tip, old ammo boxes make excellent metal toolboxes. I have one holding my tools in the boot of my old MG.

  4. tgmake says:

    Wow, that turned out great! That box has a new lease on life.

  5. Adam E says:

    As much as I can agree with the posters who prefer the old look, what I’ve learned is that brightening things up makes a workshop feel better for me, at least. Old-looking things can make a shop feel depressing and less attractive to myself and visitors. Then there are people like my wife who have almost no knowledge of tools and would develop the idea that it’s time to replace my “aged” stuff when it’s still perfectly functional. I have to constantly remind her that they are in working condition and I find making some things brighter (usually by polishing and cleaning) impresses her and friends better. An exception is my father-in-law, who knows tools and loves to look at old functional stuff, so I leave some unaltered to keep the shop interesting.

  6. tgmake says:

    I have to disagree with the others, the box definitely looks better now and will be around a lot longer because you restored it. The before picture shows a box that suffered from neglect and the scratches and rust are from a previous life, not the new life it just started. From now on, the scuffs and scratches will come from your projects and mishaps. After you’re done with it, another owner can do the same.

    A lot of the guys on Garage Journal would probably like this.

  7. gigs28 says:

    I think the truck liner is a great idea. How did you go about it? Did you find some in a regular spray can? Did you brush it on? Can you buy the lining material and use a paint spraying gun with an air compressor? Or is some specialized equipment needed?

    I’d like to give that a try. A quick search around the internet revealed a few different “do-it-yourself” products and methods, but I like to know your opinion on what works well.


    1. John Park says:

      I used a spray-on truck liner paint from Rustoleum, and it seems to be pretty good. There were a few different choices at the hardware store, like you mentioned, but this one seemed the easiest to apply and is thick enough that I doubt I’ll ever chip it away just putting tools in there.

  8. John McBride says:

    I worked for Park Manufacturing in Grant Park, Illinois, in the mid-1970’s when they built those boxes.  You did a magnificant job of refurbishing that box with the hip roof design.  Very impressive!

  9. Eileen Fayant says:

    i am the proud owner of park tool box model 83333
    i also have the metal case with bits.
    what do u suppose it would be worth?

  10. Bricago says:

    That blue is beautiful. Would you mind sharing the brand and color you used? You’ve inspired me to restore my dad’s toolbox. Thank you and great work.

  11. Jessica says:

    Have an old Thors Portable Power Tool Box that I’m trying to restore. Does anyone have any ideas on how to go about restoring the logo that is on it. Searched around and haven’t been able to find anything so far.

  12. kidjedi says:

    Man… that was a really cool tool box until it got painted. ;-) I love rust and patina.

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John Edgar Park likes to make things and tell people about it. He builds project for Adafruit Industries. You can find him at and twitter/IG @johnedgarpark

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