I have an occasional penchant for restoring machinist chests, but they aren't cheap.
The last one wasn't a Union or a Gerstner, but a Black & Decker valve-grinding outfit that I re-purposed. That was enough off the usual "search terms" to be cheaper than a Gerstner by a lot. But even those can be in some demand....
I have a mini-gloat today because I associated Black & Decker valve grinders with similar "Van Dorn" offerings, and someone had listed one as "Van Dom," for cheap dough. So that one is ordered! It will be an upcoming project.
I got in the latest box and I was almost in despair. Wood was very warped and grimy, especially on the top.
HOWEVER, I've now got the notion to re-configure the whole thing upside down. With the absence of the central grinder, it may visually look better with the drawers at the bottom anyway!
Triage and inversion and planing underway....
I'm also curious. I know the end result wouldn't be the same, but would you say it's easier to restore them, or to build replicas?
Thanks! Regarding your question, I would say if I'm not in the multiple-volume production mode, it's easier to restore old boxes. Particularly with regard to box/finger joints and stopped grooves, they would be a hassle to make from scratch in a one-off fashion.
There are also a lot of "dopamine hits" when working on these old things. There's the puzzle-solving aspect, the warm surprises when things start to look good again, etc.
While this Van Dorn is mostly plainsawn oak, the upscale boxes from Gerstner are a case study in fine quartersawn wood, and they do wonderful tricks like using a (split) common plank to serve as both part of the (fixed) upper till and the (hinged) top cover.
We'll see what comes next!
It’s still quite solid, but unfortunately is of the leatherette-covered variety, which is now peeling loose in places. Do you know if it could be restored as an unskinned wooden box? I’m not particularly interested in reskinning it in the leatherette stuff.
I found the Makers Mark: American Novelty Works, Herndon, PA, which likely made this box sometime after 1946.
As with the other valve-grinder chests, I'd like to keep the basic drawer walls with their nice finger joints, but discard the filthy tool-holder blocks from their innards.
Have a great week!
The fall-front door I decided not to replace (yet, anyway), since the new placement of the drawers at the bottom of the chest (inverted from the original top-drawer setup) doesn't work too well with a hinged door lying there. You can still seen the "Van Dorn" [grinder] logo on the old front cover.
Anyway, here we go!
Thanks for watching.
- General George S. Patton (1885-1945)