Creative Way to Repurpose an Old Wooden Toolbox

Looking for an easy and affordable way to add some rustic charm to your home decor? Let’s repurpose and old wooden toolbox for rustic and useful decor! With just a few supplies and a little bit of elbow grease, you can transform this vintage piece into a stylish and functional storage solution.

Whether you have an old toolbox lying around in your garage or you’re on the hunt for the perfect vintage find, this project is a great way to give new life to an old piece. So let’s roll up our sleeves and get started on this fun and easy DIY project!

In this post, I will show you how to clean and restore an old wooden tool chest that can be used as stylish and functional pieces in your home. An old wooden tool box represents hard work from a bygone era and it will bring rustic charm and history to your home! I will show you step by step how to transform a vintage tool chest into a useful piece of repurposed home decor!

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Where to Purchase an Old Tool Box

Old toolboxes can be found at a variety of locations. Although you won’t usually find one at your local thrift store, you can find one at your local vintage shop. Ask the owner of the shop if you don’t see one out because they might have one in the back!

Old tool chests can usually be found at farm sales. These boxes are often tucked away in an old barn and are sold along with farm equipment.

Estate sales are another great place to find a vintage toolbox. Ask the one selling if they have one. They just might say yes and offer you a good deal!

Step One: Prepare the Wooden Tool Chest

After acquiring a well-used wooden toolbox, the first step is to thoroughly clean it. I recommend using a solution of Simple Green and warm water for a good scrubbing. Once the toolbox has been cleaned, rinse it off with a hose and leave it out in the sun to dry completely. This will ensure that the toolbox is ready for the next step in the restoration process.

sand the wood

After cleaning the tool chest, you may need to lightly sand it. Using sopa and water on the wood can raise the grain creating a rough texture. Use a fine-girt sanding block to smooth the surface.

If your toolbox needs to be completely sanded down for your desired result, use an orbital sander loaded with 150-grit sandpaper to remove the original finish. Complete the sanding with 220 grit sanding discs on your orbital sander. Wipe off the dust with a dry microfiber clothe.

paint the toolbox

My wood toolbox was already painted a gorgeous deep blue. You can paint your toolbox if you like or leave the original finish as is. The choice is yours!

old wooden toolbox with casters, book and plant on top next to a rocking chair with wall art

Step Two: Lighten the Dark Color on the Tool Box

Apply White Wax

Even though the deep blue color was gorgeous, I wanted to lighten the dark finish. I began by applying a thin layer of white wax all over the surface of the tool box using a clean cloth. I made sure to cover all areas evenly.

Buff the Furniture Wax

Using another clean cloth, I buffed the white wax in a circular motion until it was evenly distributed and the dark color began to lighten. I repeated this process until I achieved the desired level of lightness.

Quick YouTube video

Let’s watch the easy process of lightening the original dark paint on this box. Be sure to subscribe while you are on YouTube!

Step Three: Finish the Wooden Toolbox Interior

Now that the exterior of the wooden toolbox has been repurposed and painted, it’s time to focus on the interior. Here are the steps to finish the interior of the wooden toolbox:

  • Clean the interior: Do this step at the same time you clean the outside of the toolbox. Use a damp cloth or scrub brush to clean the interior. A degreasing cleaner like Dawn dish soap will remove oils. Make sure to remove any dust, debris, or cobwebs that may have accumulated over time.
  • Sand the interior: Use sandpaper to smooth out any rough spots or splinters on the interior of the toolbox. This will prevent any damage to the items you store inside.
  • Line the interior: To protect the items from damage, line the interior of the toolbox with peel-and-stick wallpaper. Cut the wallpaper to size and use the adhesive backing to secure it in place. This also adds a pretty pop of color!
  • Install organization: To keep your items organized and easily accessible, add a pretty basket or plastic bins to keep it all tidy.
  • Optional: Apply scented wood furniture salve to add a pretty scent to the interior. Allow the salve to cure completely (at least 2 weeks) before storing your items. You can also use hemp oil to restore the old wood.

By following these steps, you can repurpose an old wooden toolbox into a functional and organized storage space for your tools.

inside of old wooden toolbox showing chain on lid
old wooden toolbox with casters, book and plant on top next to a rocking chair with wall art

Step Four: Add the Details

Old wood toolboxes will need some add-ons to make them practical for most uses in the home. Here are some that I added to this wooden tool chest that will help you to think of the additional pieces you might need to add to your toolbox!

old wooden toolbox with casters, book and plant on top next to a rocking chair with wall art

Attach Chain to Wooden Toolbox Lid

To prevent the lid from falling open too much and weakening the hinges over time, I attached a section of chain to the lid. I measured the screws to make sure they wouldn’t poke through the outside of the wooden toolbox. This also adds a nice touch of rustic charm to the toolbox.

inside of old wooden toolbox showing chain that holds lid from falling open

thanks for being here!

I hope you are enjoying this project! Let me know if you have any questions. Or leave me a comment to tell me about your project and ideas!

thanks, Cindy 😀

close up of old wooden toolbox with casters, book and plant on top

New hinges

Vintage tool boxes would have been used over and over again so the hinges might have to be changed out for new ones. Remove one hinge and take it to the local hardware store. It will be easy to buy new hinges if you have the old ones with you at the store. Ask me how I know! Haha!

old wooden toolbox with casters and book on top showing white waxed lid

Creative Wooden Toolbox Handle

For the handle, I wanted something unique and creative. I decided to use an old silver serving spoon I picked up at an auction.  I cleaned the spoon and attached it securely by drilling holes in each end and attaching it with screws to the lid.  I used short screws so they don’t poke through the other side. It not only adds functionality but also adds a personal touch to the toolbox.

repurposed wooden toolbox lid with silver spoon handle

The spoon was easy to attach:

  • place the spoon in a vice grip on a workbench to steady it
  • drill a hole a bit larger than the screw
  • attach the spoon with short screws that won’t come out of the backside
close up of silver spoon handle on repurposed wooden toolbox
close up of original lock on vintage wood toolbox

Original Handles

The toolbox still had its original carrying handles on either side. All they needed was a good cleaning and a little bit of white wax. They were the perfect vintage touch to this wooden tool chest.

repurposed wooden toolbox showing original handle on side

Add Casters for Mobility

To make the wooden toolbox mobile, I added casters to the bottom of the box. This makes it easier to move around your home without having to lift it up. I used four casters and made sure they were evenly spaced and securely screwed in place

old wooden toolbox with vintage style casters

Originally the casters had a shiny chrome finish. The shiny finish did not go with the rustic feel of this old tool chest. I grabbed some Rustoleum spray paint in a Hammered Finish called Bronzel. Then I taped off the dark gray wheel and sprayed the shiny parts of the casters. This is the look I was going for!

close up of vintage style casters on a repurposed vintage wooden toolbox

Supplies to Repurpose an Old Wooden Toolbox

Wasn’t that an easy project? Grab some supplies for your wood toolbox!

Here is a list of the simple supplies I used to repurpose my wooden toolbox.


click below to purchase supplies!

old wooden toolbox with casters, book and plant on top next to a rocking chair with wall art

Repurposed Old Wooden Toolbox

Just for a little fun, I thought I would share how busy my dog, Barkly, is. He wants to be in the shot but doesn’t like to hold still long enough for the shutter to click!

That sweet little pup is so funny!

styled shot of old wooden toolbox with blurred moving puppy in foreground

Thanks for joining our journey!

Thanks so much for joining us for this post! Join our journey so you don’t miss any of the fun projects, tutorials, and inspiration that we share with you each week! You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. We share even more inspiration on Pinterest!

graphic for Pinterest showing repurposed old wooden toolbox

More toolbox transformations:

Until next time….

Cindy Rust

Cindy has been decorating her home with thrift store finds for 40 years. She is an avid thrift store shopper who loves to makeover the items she finds into vintage-inspired home decor and furniture. When she isn’t thrift shopping or painting a piece of furniture, you can find her making homemade butter, working in her garden, or painting with watercolors.

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  1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the wheels you put on this piece!! 😍

  2. What a great piece! I would love to have one for storage. I’m glad I’m not the only one who loves Simple Green to clean their pieces with. Your sweet pup is too cute! Thanks for sharing your pretty piece!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Isn’t Simple Green a great cleaner?? Thanks for stopping by Kim!

  3. Cindy, I am so glad to read this!!! I have an old wooden military box and I am going to make some changes to it after reading this post. Thanks so much for the inspiration and nudge for me to do this.
    Once it is done I will tag you on IG so you can see how it turns out!
    Wish me luck:

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Yay!! So glad you are inspired by our projects!! I can’t wait to see yours!

  4. Janet Lorusso says:

    you had me at toolbox 🙂 I love ALL boxes and containers. The fabulous castors and inspired spoon-handle totally make this piece! Just brilliant!

    1. I’m with you on toolboxes – they are one of my fave things to find and upcycle! Thanks for stopping by Janet!