Finding old metal items is so much fun! Take this vintage lunchbox for example. It is small and durable to carry a lunch. It even has a spot to hold a thermos! I can imagine it going to work with someone – getting banged up and tossed around. But serving a purpose – keeping someones lunch safe and clean!
Lots of us eat lunch out nowadays and can’t even imagine a time when paychecks weren’t spent on lunch at restaurants. I’m certainly not complaining about going out to lunch occasionally but a good’ole peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a tall glass of iced tea sounds pretty good too! I love simple things in life. 🙂 Getting back to the basics is refreshing in our day of modern technology and conveniences.
Anyway, I came across at this lunch box at a thrift store. It was in pretty rough shape so I decided to clean it up a bit. Miss Dewalt came out to work! I sanded the flat surfaces as far into the corners as possible. The sander is round so it won’t get all the way into the tight places. Turning the sander a bit on it’s side will help to reach additional spots on the lunchbox. The tight corners I took care of with a chisel and wire brush. I just scraped with the chisel to loosen the rust. But I was sure not to remove all of the patina the rust gives. Both the outside and the inside of the lunchbox got this treatment.
I had decided to use this little lunch box as a succulent plant holder so I needed to figure out a way for the lid to stay open without falling onto the plants. I keep a bag of leather scraps that my hubby picked up from our local horse/farm store. They repair saddles and boots and have lots of little leftovers that can be purchased by the bag. If you don’t have a shop like that around you, just use a strong, heavy weight ribbon. Something in burlap would look nice.
If using the leather piece, you will have to create an opening for the bolt to go through. At first I tried using a drill, but that was a disaster! Not enough control of the small leather piece meant that it just spun around the drill. Plus it was so hard to get it started. I love problem solving so my next thought was to use something small and graduate to something larger to make the hole. An ice pick and a nail punch fit the bill perfectly! I have a nice collection of old tools that come in handy 🙂
On the pine surface of my work bench, I pressed the ice pick into the leather creating a small opening. Then I used the graduated nail punch that you see in the image, creating the size of the opening I needed for the bolt. It might seem tedious to do this but if you don’t “pre-drill” the hole you will have a difficult time tightening the bolt. Save yourself some aggravation and use this pre-drill method!
Since you have your drill handy, pre-drill the lunchbox as shown in the images below. Be sure to wear safety glasses – there will be pieces of metal that could fly through the air!
Insert the bolt from the outside of the lunchbox and attach the bolt to the lid of the lunchbox first. I keep little boxes of leftover screws, washers and bolts around. The proverbial coffee can for previously used hardware really comes in handy. It’s kinda fun rummaging through the box looking for just the right sizes to fit my projects. In the image below, you can get a good idea of how small the bolt is. You don’t want it too long because it will stick out too much.
Since I attached the bolt/leather piece to the top first, I was able to adjust how long I needed the leather piece to be. You want the lid to tilt backwards just enough so that it doesn’t flop open but also doesn’t fall forward on the plants that will sit inside the lunch box. Mark the hole with a Sharpie and “pre drill” the hole the same as you did the first one using the ice pick and nail punch method.
You can see here how the two ends are attached to the top and bottom of the lunchbox.
Next for the waxing! This might not be a typical treatment for metal, but I just think it adds a nice smooth patina and finish to the piece. I do not recommend wax if you are going to put this planter outside. In that case, you should use an exterior clear spray like Krylon ColorMaster Acrylic Crystal Clear in a matte finish. This planter is meant to be indoors with plants that don’t require a lot of water. For an added measure, you could spray the bottom of the lunch box with the same clear matte spray.
Using gloves and a waxing brush apply the was in a thin layer. I use an old chip brush to get into the tight places.
Buff with #0000 steel wool (my package is #00 – I just put the wrong package on my workbench!) and a soft bristle brush like my shoe polishing brush until you have a smooth finish!
The soft brush really gets into the crevices with ease!
Add a couple of painted terra cotta pots with succulents and you have an adorable little planter! If you are not good with plants, Michaels has some realistic artificial succulents 🙂 the best of two worlds – easy and cute!
Here are some other metal waxing projects you might enjoy! This little First Aid box would be a perfect pencil box for the coloring books that are so popular now!
This copper tea pot cleaned up so well and the wax just added the perfect retina. Check out the date on the spout – 1898! Notice the mason jar inside the tea pot – it’s a great way to have fresh flowers on your table!
Thanks for stopping by! Let me know what metal projects you decide to take on! Be sure to pin this post for future reference!