Hello friends!  As promised, here is the skinny on how I DIY’ed my hand-me-down metal tool chests, metal cart, and vintage tool boxes.  They were part of my recent garage makeover for the One Room Challenge.

Here is what they look like now…


Here is what “the before” looked like…


I bought two small tool boxes at a flea market.  I’m going to use one to show you the process I used to make them over.  Here is one of them as it was when I bought it.

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The Cleaning Process

I scrubbed them with WD-40 and steel wool.  Then I wiped them down with a wet washcloth, rinsed and repeated, until there wasn’t any residue left on the tool box.

For the really stubborn rust areas, I busted out the Dremel with the medium grade sanding attachment.


How I Got Those Clean Edges

I wrapped all of the metal hardware (that I didn’t want to paint) in painter’s tape. Seal it down really well around the edges.  And make sure there no metal areas left uncovered.

Next, I took out my Exacto Knife and started tracing around the edges where the metal ends.  The good news is that if your knife goes on the fritz, you just put down another piece of tape and try again.


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I apologize for not having photos of this next part; I really thought I took photos!

The Painting Process

I sprayed each piece with gray primer.  

Then sprayed two coats of the teal paint.  I wish I had more spray paint experience.  The primer went on fine, without splattering or runs.  The teal was a bit more problematic.  It could have been the consistency of the paint, or the brand of paint (I’m sure there is a difference in quality with spray paint as there is with regular paint)?  Or, it could have been all on me, and I was spraying too heavy?  There are a couple runs, but we tried to sand them down and repaint, but really, I’m okay with them not being perfect.  They’re in a garage after all 😉  I applied a second coat of paint where it was needed.

After the paint

After a couple hours after the last coat of paint went on, I carefully started peeling off the tape.  I was pretty jazzed to see how well the tape worked.

There were a couple places under the handles on the tool chest where the paint didn’t reach, but my new friend, Katie, taught me a new trick.  She sprayed the teal paint into a plastic cup, and took a fine tip paint brush and dabbed the paint onto the bare spots.  It worked!  Note:  You will need paint stripper to wash the brush after.



The most expensive part of the project was the new wheels I purchased for the tool chest and the cart.  They desperately needed new wheels, so it was a must.


I think I went through 3 bottles of primer, and five bottles of paint.  You can see the runs on the left hand side of the tool chest on the photo below, but this photo almost makes them look worse than they do it real life.


So there it is!  It wasn’t a complicated processed, so if you’re thinking of doing it, you should go for it!


xo Jen signature



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1 Comment

  1. Reply
    Courtney @ Foxwood Forest
    November 14, 2016 at 9:13 am

    It’s so amazing what a little bit of paint can do! These tool chests look so great!

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