Upcycled Vintage Tool Chest Coffee Table

2 Materials
2 Days

This project today comes to you courtesy of my sister Ann. I stopped by her house earlier in the week before spending the day junk shopping and I spied this vintage tool chest just sitting in her garage. I don’t know if she noticed my drool but I’ve been wanting to make over one of these cabinets for a while now…either a machine parts cabinet or a card catalog, either would do…it just had to have a lot of drawers. And here she had one just sitting there, screaming at me to take it home. After some heavy negotiating, she just had to reimburse me for supplies, this little guy was sitting in my car about to get his makeover.

This steel tool parts cabinet had been well used. It was the 3 G’s, grubby, grungy and greasy. Not something you would particularly want in your house. I peeled off all the stickers I didn’t want and scraped off the loose rust. Also wiped the little guy down to get rid of surface dirt.

Out came the Goof Off, to get rid of sticker residue. The insides of the drawers were still pretty nasty so I ended up just giving them a squirt of dish soap and a bath in hot water.

After a little prep the tool chest was finally ready for his makeover. I chose black semigloss Rustoleum spray paint for the drawer fronts and the cabinet. Painters tape kept the black paint confined to just the fronts and the top edges of the drawers.

How pretty is this color? It’s Wildflower Blue also from Rustoleum. No longer should you be afraid to put your belongings in these drawers.

The black spray paint left the vintage tool chest so clean and sooooo new looking. A little too new looking. I rubbed the drawer edges and handles with a little paint thinner to reveal some of the original color. If you rub back the paint too far, just respray.

On the bottom of the cabinet I added two pieces of scrap wood both with screws thru the existing holes in the corners and builders adhesive. This will be used to attach my industrial wheels.

For the top of the cabinet I’m using these two bed side rails I pulled out of a junk pile.

This is a better picture of why the bed rails were in a junk pile. But hey, it’s still beautiful wood. It just needs a little lovin. Cut your wood to fit over top of your tool chest leaving about an inch overhang on all sides.

Use either varnish remover or sandpaper to remove the old finish on the bed rails. If you use sandpaper, make sure you finish with a fine grit.

Fill in any holes with wood putty or a wood dowel. I used wood putty. Use wood glue to attach the bed rails together. Clamp and let dry.

Once the wood glue was dry I turned the tabletop over and used kreg jig screws to further secure the bed rail pieces together.

Now is the time to do any final sanding of the ends and edges. The right side has a coat of dark walnut stain. Is it me or is it obvious that the wood putty does not take stain at all? 🙄

No need to fear, these are the same 3 holes. The bottom 2 have a little acrylic paint painted over top of the wood putty. I used Apple Barrel black and chocolate brown, painting in the direction of the grain. After a coat of oil, the putty will look more like a wood knot instead of a patched hole.

Builders adhesive attaches the top to the vintage tool chest but I was afraid if anyone ever picked up the piece they would do so by the top. Four round top bolts and nuts further secure the top to the cabinet.

Biggest expense was a set of FactorDuty 4 All Black Metal Swivel Plate Caster Wheels Heavy Duty from Amazon. The wheels come in a variety of sizes with locks and without. They screw right onto the board I had attached earlier.

The footprint of this coffee table is not very large, perfect for a small space and it has tons of storage included.

The drawers are blue, clean and rust free. What you’ve always wanted in a drawer. Other than the stain, the top has 3 additional coats of danish oil. Rub on with a rag or paper towel and let dry between coats. If needed, use fine steel wool to get rid of any rough areas.

So pretty. He’s dressing up my living room for a few days before I have to give him back to my sister. I have to see if she has any more projects I can steal from her. Until next time, stay inspired.

If you need more upcycled coffee table ideas please visit me at ScavengerChic.com

Suggested materials:

  • Industrial wheels   (Amazon)
  • Chest and wood top   (salvaged)

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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