Steamer Trunk Handle Repair

5 Materials
30 Minutes

I love a good vintage steamer trunk. I love restoring them imagining where they may have traveled in their time. This one was rough to start with, but I knew with a little TLC I could make it shine all over again. In most cases the handles on old trunks have disintegrated and broken away. Replacing the handles make the trunks so much more functional. Wait until you see how this one turns out!

Flat top trunks make great tables!
Flat top trunks make great tables!

My trick with these canvas covered trunks is to remove the canvas revealing the old wood underneath. Once the canvas was gone, I was ready to replace the old handles.

steamer trunk handle repair

I used a flat head screwdriver, or a prying tool to remove the old handle caps and tacks. 


steamer trunk handle repair

Under the caps you'll see the end of the old leather handle and a couple more tacks holding it in place. Pry these out and clean everything out. Now you are ready to install your new handles.

steamer trunk handle repair

For this handle I used a little trick. One of my husband's belts had just broken, so I cut it down to size and used belt pieces for my trunk handles. You could also grab a thrift store belt if you don't have an extra one in your closet. You can also buy authentic looking leather handles online at The Brettuns Village Trunk Shop.

steamer trunk handle repair

Cut a little hole in the end of the belt, then screw it back into the trunk. I added some glue to the back of the belt and a short screw to go through the belt into the trunk. Then hammer the old tacks back in.

steamer trunk handle repair

And just like that you have a brand set of handles!

What a difference!
What a difference!

Check out the entire trunk restoration process below.


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Jenni Ingram

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2 of 31 comments
  • Linda Premo
    on Feb 20, 2019

    A really great looking trunk!!!

  • Sherrie
    7 days ago

    Awesome. My kids put mine outside .Last nite i happened to look at it wondering ehat steps to restore .This was right on time. Thanks

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