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Great great Grandfathers tool chest

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Project by SeaFarin posted 284 days ago 1625 views 3 times favorited 27 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Did some general cleanup on a 100+ year old tool chest that belonged to my great great grandfather Moses F Burbank. I have picture of barns in NW Iowa that were built by Moses. As I was repairing this chest just enough to keep it together, I wondered what my grandfather would think about the modern tools I was using. The wife has graciously allowed me to place it in our living room as a coffee table.

-- I'm Chuck and I wood not chuck wood cause I keep finding uses for it!





27 comments so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile (online now)

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9765 posts in 1245 days


#1 posted 284 days ago

Oh, wow does this style of chest look familiar!

In the fourth pic, is there a pull-up style saw till in the back of the open chest? I see a board and what appears to two finger holes,,,

Great post, thanks for sharing! You’re fortunate to have that piece!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

13740 posts in 965 days


#2 posted 284 days ago

A lot of history sitting there. A rare find.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

View MilFlyer's profile

MilFlyer

108 posts in 298 days


#3 posted 284 days ago

That is fantastic! Family history is a great thing to carry forward and very cool that the wife wanted it in the house to share!

-- Richard "Fear is nothing more than a feeling. You feel hot. You feel hungry. You feel angry. You feel afraid. Fear can never kill you"--Remo Williams

View fumehappy's profile

fumehappy

110 posts in 878 days


#4 posted 284 days ago

Nice gentle restore job… is that the original key even?

View SeaFarin's profile

SeaFarin

51 posts in 939 days


#5 posted 284 days ago

@Smitty – Yes the back most box has 6 hand saws interlaced in vertical slots. All the boxes are stacked and can slide forward or back to expose the lower layer of boxes.
@fumehappy – Yes that is the original key. Very lucky that it’s still around! See image below. This poor box spent approximately 50 years in a machine shed in Iowa.

Here’s my next dilemma that you all could help me with! I’m vacillating about how much cleanup/restoration to do on this tool chest. I’ve heard from those that say “Do nothing! keep it just as you found it!”. Part of me wants to take the time to remove the greasy grimy from the inside and ready cleanup and give the TLC to each tool. The Outside, I will pretty much leave as it, but the inside I would like turn it back into a showcase. What do you antique tool collectors say? Thanks!!

-- I'm Chuck and I wood not chuck wood cause I keep finding uses for it!

View BubingaBill's profile

BubingaBill

247 posts in 311 days


#6 posted 284 days ago

Just my thoughts but I would only do what is necessary to keep in structurally intact. Clean up his tools and the inside but not restore them.
Think of how Moses would clean them after a season of using them. Nothing more. Just solid clean tools.
Great find by the way!

-- Measure twice and try not to cut your thumbs off!

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112011 posts in 2204 days


#7 posted 284 days ago

What a great family treasure.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile (online now)

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9765 posts in 1245 days


#8 posted 284 days ago

Ditto to clean the tools. Solid clean, as Bill suggests. The inside of the box should be cleaned as well. Avoid sanding anything, but rather vac and brush as much as possible. Maybe a little scraping if you have too. See what you have at that point and decide from there your next step(s), if needed.

Love that key!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View HillbillyShooter's profile

HillbillyShooter

4494 posts in 919 days


#9 posted 284 days ago

Agree with Smitty_Cabinetshop regarding minimal restoration—don’t destroy the value and if in doubt, don’t do it. I also have my great-grandfather’s tool chest in my workshop. Thanks for sharing.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View SeaFarin's profile

SeaFarin

51 posts in 939 days


#10 posted 284 days ago

Thanks for the suggestions! That helps me get to one side of the fence.
What is meant by solid clean? Does that mean to not use anything liquid to clean?

-- I'm Chuck and I wood not chuck wood cause I keep finding uses for it!

View SeaFarin's profile

SeaFarin

51 posts in 939 days


#11 posted 284 days ago

@HillbillyShooter – Do you have any pictures of your great-grandfathers tool chest online?

-- I'm Chuck and I wood not chuck wood cause I keep finding uses for it!

View summerfi's profile

summerfi

964 posts in 314 days


#12 posted 284 days ago

Wow, what an incredible treasure. I’d love to see some pics of the barns he built too. I have a similar style toolbox built by my grandfather. I’ve been thinking about restocking it with an appropriate set of vintage tools, including some I’ve inherited from him. Thanks for posting.

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- Of all the tools I own, my favorite is a good sharp pocket knife. - My Dad

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile (online now)

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9765 posts in 1245 days


#13 posted 284 days ago

I’d suggest cleaning that’s not geared toward refurbishment. As in, no Evaporust or the like, just some easy scrubbing with soap and water, via damp rags, then oil afterwards with something like WD40 to keep rust at bay. Or even soft toothbrush with just WD40 and lots of rags. Etc, etc. Lots of ways to go after it that don’t include removing too much beyond dirt…

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile

kaerlighedsbamsen

456 posts in 340 days


#14 posted 284 days ago

Now i dont know what type of man your grandfather was but suppose that a man that has that kind of order in his tool chest, keeps the key etc would like to see his tools and the box clean and ready to use.
For the tools I think the guys above is right
For the box perhaps a little more than just vacuuming would be good. In my experience old, untreated wood or wood with old, matte paint can get a fine look after just washing with the kind of detergent you use prior to painting. It removes grease but does not dissolve paint or wood and would take care of that oil that seems to have been spilled on it at the bottom edge and around the lock. For persistent dirt use a rough brush but NO sponges/pads. Let dry thorougly and perhaps sand werry carefully at the few spots where wood fibers have come loose. Nothing more.
If filled with proper tools that would be the most awesome sofa table – and conversation starter!

Thanks for sharing!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View BubingaBill's profile

BubingaBill

247 posts in 311 days


#15 posted 284 days ago

When I said “solid clean tools”. I was not referring to a cleaning method. Just how well they were made back in the day.
You want to keep everything authentic without sanding. Do a bit of research on vintage tool cleaning used back when Moses had these. You could clean them the same way. This would give you the finish he saw when he cleaned his tools.
I would still follow Smitty’s suggestions for preserving the tools.

-- Measure twice and try not to cut your thumbs off!

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