February 18, 2021 at 4:19 pm #37647
I’ve been trying to find one of these for a long time. Finally found one a few days ago and was able to buy it pretty cheap because they couldn’t get it open and had lost the key. From this website I am assuming it is a model 31B. Does anyone know if the label on the drawer helps identify its age? Overall it seems to be in pretty descent shape, minus the felt and a couple of drawers that need some attention. My dad used to be a cabinet maker so I’m hoping we can get it cleaned up partially restored. Don’t want to do a lot because I like the weathered look. Mostly just wanted to show it off. Thanks in advance for any info you can provide!February 19, 2021 at 5:11 am #37665Terry RushbrookParticipant
I would not be too quick to ID this as a Gerstner 31, at least not a Gerstner O31.
There are things about this box that lead me to believe it was a leatherette covered box that has been stripped of its covering down to the lesser hardwood underneath. It is a mistake to think that it can ever be restored to resemble a real O31. The poplar or other wood will never look like quarter sawn oak like the drawer fronts. The vertical inserts in the front panel are an indicator, as is the frame around the felted area on the inside of the front panel.
The original old O31’s had dovetail joinery where the sides meet the top. That was not revealed in your photos.
We need lots more photos and precise measurements to help you make a valid conclusion.
TerryFebruary 19, 2021 at 9:16 am #37669
I can’t believe I didn’t notice that. There is still trace amounts of fabric under each of the metal corners Another thing I noticed is the drawer bottoms are steel. Wasn’t sure if that was common on some models more than others or not. I was never expecting to do a professional restoration, just a hobby style clean up. Now that you have pointed out that the box covered, it won’t bother me to strip and refinish it.February 19, 2021 at 10:00 am #3767324outbackParticipant
Good call TerryFebruary 19, 2021 at 1:42 pm #37677February 19, 2021 at 1:44 pm #37678
Wow, this forum software is funky. I typed a lengthy response and attached a link & it disappeared into thin air…February 19, 2021 at 8:37 pm #37685
Well I bought the chest for around $100. I assume that is still a fair price even though it was once wrapped? For the most part the framework is in good condition.February 19, 2021 at 8:51 pm #37686
trobinson, I think it’s worth at least $100. It looks like it’s pretty functional. I’m surprised at how nice it looks without the leatherette. I’ve seen some other pictures on the Forum of other leatherette covered cases that had the cover removed and the base wood was not as nice. I can see in one of your pictures the faint outlines of the leatherette pattern. Also, the material left under the corner protectors may be intentional. If it was removed, the holes for the screws in the corner protector may not line up properly to the holes in the case… I have a similar case of similar vintage (see the thread: Forums / Gerstner Tool Chests & Cases / Tips and Tricks / How to remove the front lid?) that I had contemplated removing the leatherette on because of the damage. In the end, I decided to keep it covered and just cleaned the case.
As for just sprucing up the case versus a full on restoration for your case, it’s nice enough and presentable enough that I would do what you’re thinking and just spruce it up, which is what I did with mine (clean/light steel wool/Danish oil…). Good luck with the “sprucing up.”February 24, 2021 at 4:42 am #37776Terry RushbrookParticipant
I am definitely not a “sprucing up” sort of guy, but that’s just the way I am. I would remove all of the hardware and the bits of leatherette that lurk beneath, then strip all vestiges of the old glue and schmutz off the wood. The lesser hardwood that remains may be serviceable, but it will never rival the quality and finish of the drawer fronts. Not to say I have not done that in the past. I have had occasions where the chest or case I got in had already been stripped and I had no choice, since I suck at re-covering them with leatherette. What I was left with was a serviceable, but not beautiful, box.
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