Refinishing Toolbox

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Forum topic by patrad posted 08-06-2014 01:44 PM 1370 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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51 posts in 2486 days

08-06-2014 01:44 PM

I have this old Stanley toolbox from a grandfather and wondering best way to clean it up . . possibly do some light refinishing. First, it’s dirty. Any suggestions on cleaning the grime off? I was thinking just mild soap and water with a scrub brush, then 0000 steel wool. Maybe some grain raising there that I would lightly sand down or take care of with wool.

It looks like it was probably oiled to begin with a long time ago. Maybe then just a refresh with some Danish Oil once it’s all clean and lightly sanded? I would like to add some degree of protective finish (I’m going to use it for tools) and I tend to use Waterlox on everything, so I was also considering varnishing it (w/o the Danish Oil). However it seems like Danish Oil may keep the “patina” a bit more than a varnish. Other options I have immediately available would be a wipe on satin poly or Beall waxing (although I’ve kind of dismissed that as it would get beat up and hard to get into the interior of the box)

Part of it:

7 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5105 posts in 4135 days

#1 posted 08-06-2014 02:24 PM

Clean with Murphy Oil Soap. It is a “soap” not a detergent. Let it dry well.
Finish with Watco Danish Oil. Several coats wiped well between each coat.
You will have the look ya want, and an easily refreshed finish for the future.
Good on you for the proposed rehab. It’ll be a treasure.


View timbertailor's profile


1594 posts in 1599 days

#2 posted 08-06-2014 02:34 PM

I would do as little as possible. I like the patina that time has given it. It will remind you of your grandfather every time you use it. I would only change the finish if the piece was in danger of deteriorating.

-- Brad, Texas,

View patrad's profile


51 posts in 2486 days

#3 posted 08-06-2014 05:10 PM

I’ve read murphy’s oil is not good for raw woods. Although this prob had some sort of oil finish, it feels a bit raw. I also have some Dr Bronners Pure Castile soap. Would this also be considered “soap” not detergent?

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51 posts in 2486 days

#4 posted 08-06-2014 07:34 PM

Alright well I got right to it today. Gave a wash down with Murphys Oil Soap. I only had about 1/2 cup and that water got super dirty. So I moved on and used a little of that Bronners as well. I think it kept a good patina. I love the rich look of it when wet. My final question being, will danish oil really make this pop? I’d love for the patina and rich color of the grain and wood to stand out. I know a varnish will do it, just wondering if oil will be as nice? Pics:

View Pezking7p's profile


3217 posts in 1826 days

#5 posted 08-06-2014 07:45 PM

Toolbox looks great!

Danish oil is not going to catch the light like the wet wood does. It will look great when you put the finish on, and then “dull” when the finish dries. I would do 2-3 coats of danish oil and see how you like it. If you want it to look glossier, add a couple coats of shellac or poly.

-- -Dan

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51 posts in 2486 days

#6 posted 08-06-2014 10:19 PM

Yeah I really would like that wet look so I think I’m going to varnish it with Waterlox

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51 posts in 2486 days

#7 posted 08-15-2014 02:18 AM

I finished it. I went with Danish Oil then about 5-6 coats of Waterlox wiping on with either a pad or 400-grit. It still needs to cure and then I’ll determine if I want to rub it out a bit. . but I could not WAIT to get the hardware back on to check it out. I love it! Will soon add one more brass plate with the 5 gens of names on it. . From my great grandfather to my son. If anyone has any ideas as to the type of wood, I’d be curious. Also found via the stamp on it, that it was probably from here


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