Upcycling an Old Toolbox

One of my craft painting projects this fall was upcycling an old toolbox. I know this doesn’t sound very glamorous, but I was very happy with the final product. 

I found this old metal toolbox at a thrift shop. It was solid and had good bones, but it needed a face lift. For some reason I really envisioned the end-product to have a feminine aspect, a far remove from its original utilitarian design.

I started by cleaning and degreasing the toolbox with a TSP/water solution and a brush, including an old toothbrush to get into the crevices.

Next, I removed the stickers and used Goo-Gone to remove any remaining adhesive and residue. 

To get that feminine look I desired, I chose a pink chalk-paint in a spray can by RUST-OLEUM. Spray chalk paint gives excellent adhesion and coverage on sanded metal. The spray paint offers an ease of application into all the curves and crevices. 

When using spray paint, remember to apply several light coats rather than a single heavy coat. This keeps the paint from sagging. Also, apply all the coats of paint you desire within one hour (while the paint remains wet) or after 48 hours (when it has had a chance to fully cure). If you allow the paint to partially dry and then apply a second coat it will cause the paint to crackle. 

Always use spray paint out of doors or in a space with good ventilation. 

I adored the juxtaposition of using the pink paint with such a masculine item. It felt like a true repurposing of its original design. Feel free to be creative with color choice here to compliment your aesthetic or personalize for a gift. 

After your piece is dry, you can scuff sand to add a shabby chic or distressed appearance. I chose to keep the color solid but added an applique by Iron Orchid Designs. These are transfers that you simply “rub on” using a small plastic tool similar to a credit card. Easy peasy, right? 

Not only does it add a unique design element, but it can also strategically cover any damage an old piece might have acquired over the years or highlight a special characteristic.

Chalk paint dries chalky and flat. If you like a shinier finish or desire something more durable, a sealer can be applied in a spray form. Try Minwax’s Polycrylic. You may also apply a furniture wax or chalk paint wax over top and buff for a hand-rubbed finish.  

The design and color choices are endless here. The main thing is that you’re tapping into your creative juices and having fun. Now, should I add all my paint brushes and tools and keep this little gem for myself, or fill it with terracotta pots, gardening tools and seed packets and give it as a gift?  I can also see this on my vanity, housing makeup and perfumes.

Only time will tell!