January 23, 2020 at 4:35 am #27517
I had the opportunity to pick up a W62 and a WB62 at Thanksgiving time. Now that hunting season, the holidays and a nasty cold, have all passed, I managed to pull on Terry’s ear a bit, pick one of the locks open and order felt, glue, keys, etc… from Gerstner. While I wait for it to arrive, I took this past weekend to start the cleaning process.
Stripping the felt was easy, removed all the hardware except the hinges and lock. I soaked the hardware in Evaporust and polished the hardware as best as possible, resulting in fair results. There is some pitting and loose plating. Being this chest set will be put back into service in a machine shop, I am pleased enough. Using hot water, Murphy Oil Soap and micro fiber towels, I started scrubbing! The base chest cleaned up well, as did the drawers. While nowhere near perfect, I love the look. There are dings, dark spots, dirty spots with the finish worn off around the drawer knobs. All scars from honest use. I am loving the look and the way it turned out. She is all ready for some wax and felt.
I started on the drawers and front cover on the top chest and was achieving the same satisfying results. Sunday, late afternoon I started scrubbing the shmutz off the top chest case, the more I scrubbed the more odd the finish was looking. Then it dawned on me… Earlier I had my wife hold backup with an 10lb sledgehammer while I used a drift punch and hammer to take the bend out of both hinges so the lid when closed, met flush with the front till face. I called it a success when both outer faces met up flush to the face of the till, while closer to the lock face there was still some mismatch. I chalked it up to “an old tool chest”. Now while scrubbing, I had the realization that the real reason that the hinges were sprung (bent) was that sometime during its life, probably early on due to the excessive shmutz buildup, this chest must have tipped forward while the lid was open and obviously fell to the shop floor. This resulted in the bent hinges and some wood chipping on the front face edges of both the lid and the till. Well, in my 31 years of being in machine shops I have found very few men that are well paid to make beautiful parts out of metal are capable of doing any woodwork past using a circular saw… Someone filled the chipped edges with wood putty, I believe used a palm sander with coarse paper and sanded the face of the till up to the lock on both sides creating low areas near the lock on both sides. They also sanded on the face of the lid as well as half way across the top of the lid. Then restained the wood with a dark stain. Well, now that I had cleaned 2 or 3 decades of shmutz off, the two different colors show up horribly. At this point I have put on the brakes as my clean, polish and felt project appears to have just become a bit more difficult. I am hoping to strip, and refinish the case and attempt to match the existing color of the drawers and drop down front cover.
Any advice…or criticism gladly accepted!
I will post photos in a bit when I remember how!January 24, 2020 at 11:28 am #34949January 24, 2020 at 11:31 am #34950January 24, 2020 at 11:51 am #34952user459Member
Rest assured that stripping and refinishing will not remove all the dings, dents, and characteristics that added patina over the years. Gerstner didn’t use stain on walnut boxes, but you may have to do some experimenting to get the base and box to match. Perhaps it would be a good idea to try Minwax Pre-Stain on a piece first.
I’m sorry about the damage to the lid and top rail. It’s unfortunate to have sustained the damage and also the bad repair! Are the hinges OK now? Do they need to be replaced?January 25, 2020 at 2:39 pm #34955
I kind of figured the hard part will be the color match. Thanks for the tip on trying the Pre-Stain, and no original stain. Hopefully that will help… After the beating I gave the hinges whipping them back into position, they really don’t look abused and thy function perfectly. Although, due to the rough sanding job that was performed on the till face, I will need to remove the rivets on the lock, and I might as we’ll remove the hinges to so they all can be properly inspected, cleaned and polished. Of course, I will need to see about domed head rivets. I hear they grow wild in Florida!January 25, 2020 at 4:28 pm #34956user459Member
I think I just saw a few thousand of those rivets out in my shop! They must be multiplying…February 18, 2021 at 11:31 am #37631
I was able to complete the woodwork and polishing of the hardware by the end of February, 2020. The bodywork required to fill in the till and lid damage came out as good as could be expected. I left one small area with the original repair and dark stain just to add character and as a reminder as to how bad it really looked. While the finish is not of museum quality, it is smooth, sealed up nicely and will serve me proudly as I put them back into service. The front drawer cover appears blotchy in the photos for some reason, must be the camera phone is picking up something that cannot be seen up close.
One project led to another and my Gerstners took a back seat… now during the Great Houston snow and ice storm of 2021, I was off work and had time to get the felt work completed. Being my first time using hide glue, thanking my wife for the use of her rotary cutter and mat, I am very pleased with the results. There are a couple of sins to be seen if you know where to look. I had hell trying to use the hide glue and felt to cover the 2 metal small tool (needle file) drawer inserts. I believe they may have originally been sprayed with a ground up felt??? I used the sandblasting booth at work to prep them and sprayed contact cement on the metal and felt. A lot of patience, and a round pencil allowed me to conform to all of the tight curves in the corrugated metal.
I am still not happy with the way the drawer pulls turned out on the upper chest. They are of a different design than the base chest. The finish is completely gone and they are severely pitted. I know they will be rusting up as soon as they go back into service. I believe the top is of 1975 vintage and the lower is from 1978. I was also able to see a difference in the screws. The upper used 98% slotted head screws, while the lower was 100% Phillips head. I will be looking into replacing the top drawer pulls to match the lowers and the top lid corners. The plating is pealing the worst there. This chest set led a hard life for a while. It seems that the top and one side must have been sprayed with a coolant or a chemical that stained the wood differently and attacked the nickel plating.
A great big thank you to Mr. Terry Rushbrook for the ideas, tips and for supplying me with the correct spit rivets, slotted head screws and such!February 18, 2021 at 11:44 am #37637February 18, 2021 at 11:46 am #37642
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