Antique Tool Restoration

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Project by David Craig posted 11-25-2009 03:43 PM 4646 views 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I helped a friend of mine, a couple months ago, clean out his wife’s old house in Flint so they could sell it to Habitat’s for Humanity. Up in the attic of the garage (a place his wife never visitied) we found some old tools that were extremely rusted. One of the previous occupants was a handyman and there were a miscellaneous amount of odds and ends. My buddy was just going to toss some in the trash and I asked him to save me anything he didn’t want. So I was given an old tool box with a few items in it. I picked up some naval jelly and a bottle of brasso and went to work.

I am a big history buff. I always liked old things so this was a big treat for me. It was a combination of tools, history, and archeology all rolled into one. Couldn’t ask for a bigger kick to my day. I know that some people frown on intense restoration. I agree that there is beauty in leaving wear and tear as they are and that it is sometimes a shame to take that history off the tool. But I also hate to see a good tool wasting away and there is something about holding a tool that had been touched and used by hands from the past that speaks to me.

Enclosed are pictures of the toolbox, an old Stanley combination square, and a Pexto chisel. The toolbox was obviously homemade. I washed it with Murphy’s oil soap a few times to get to the grain of the wood. Not sure what I will use it for yet, but I will think of something. The Stanley square is a no.21. The patent on the tool is from 1917 and the logo (hard to see I know) was only used until 1918 (Thank God for Google :). So this might actually be one of the first editions. Not really worth anything, but nice to know. Kind of a neat tool, the slot down the center is because the square doubles as a bevel gauge. My current 12 inch combo square is one of the Johnson plastic models. I haven’t picked up a Starrett’s. There was some pitting on the blade but I worked it to a nice shine and can read the numbers on it. The square is of a quality that is definitely not seen on average these days and will probably start using this instead of the Johnson. There is a Pexto chisel and gouge in the collection as well. The blades on both are very strong and still have a sharpness to it, even though it was in an attic for a couple decades.

I only posted these items because I know this is a woodworking site. There were some interesting monkey wrenches from the early Ford days and some shoe cobbling tools. I am still cleaning some items but I thought I would share what I found so far. If anyone wants me to post more of my findings, woodworking tools or otherwise, please let me know.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

8 comments so far

View WayneC's profile


13753 posts in 4061 days

#1 posted 11-25-2009 04:43 PM

I think there is lots of folks interested in old tools and their restoration. Please keep posting. Relative to removing rust, I am getting ready to try a product called evapo-rust. A number of folks on the site have had good results with it. Might be easier to use than Navy Jelly.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3444 days

#2 posted 11-25-2009 05:33 PM

I am like you David…love the old things. Thanks for posting this. Looks like a great find.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View olfrt's profile


13 posts in 3555 days

#3 posted 11-25-2009 06:04 PM

I have a couple of Pexto chisels and they are very good quality. They hold an edge extremely well When I was Tinning about 45 years ago we used Pexto stuff in preference to other brands.

-- Have fun ! Be Safe !

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3073 days

#4 posted 11-25-2009 06:04 PM

Doesn’t take much to make me happy Wayne, but combing a few of my interests in one package is always a special treat :)

Thanks for the tip WayneC, I will have to look into that product.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3073 days

#5 posted 11-25-2009 06:11 PM

Hmmm, has to be the first time I referred to someone as olfrt, my mom raised me better than that :)

Thank you sir for the reply and a little back history.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View a1Jim's profile


117062 posts in 3541 days

#6 posted 11-25-2009 06:14 PM

Looks like a cool find

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View OhValleyWoodandWool's profile


970 posts in 3085 days

#7 posted 11-25-2009 06:53 PM

Great find

-- "All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then Success is sure." Mark Twain

View MickInZanesville's profile


7 posts in 3074 days

#8 posted 11-25-2009 09:03 PM

How cool! I agree, most of the time antiques (furniture, tools, whatever) are ruined by poor stripping jobs and should just be left alone. But—if it actually the piece useful/attractive then I say do it. So, congrats on your finds and enjoy using them!

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