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Thread: My first Gerstner

  1. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by user459 View Post
    Not in my estimation. I get the response a lot, "I like the darker finish." I have news for you; that darker color is DIRT! The old finishes they used did not stand up to the constant barrage of chemicals and oils in the shop environment, not did they weather the basement or workshop environment at home. Gerstner's choice of stains for the Oak boxes was and is a Golden Oak stain, followed by a final finish of lacquer or varnish. I prefer to use Minwax Golden Oak, followed by many coats of Minwax Satin Polyurethane spray.

    As far as value, the people who say they like the old original finish never buy that box. My experience is they buy the one that has been meticulously restored. They have watched too many episodes of Antiques Road Show or American Pickers. While that may be true of an historical Victorian piece of furniture, It doesn't hold any weight with me.

    Refinish the bugger! Just my humble opinion after refinishing almost 200 of these boxes... Here you will see many boxes that started out dark, dirty, and grimy. Look how they turned out...
    Yeah I like the minwax golden oak finish better also, did not think about it but yes the lacquer would darken over time. Honestly I didn't think about the age of it and the finish of that era I just thought of the stain color and said hmmmm this is to dark for golden
    I'll be stripping it this weekend, it has a few cracks and splits in the wood that needs attention anyway.
    Do you have a preferred method of restoring the hardware? On your Shutterfly page?
    My only concern is rewrapping the handle not overly confident in my skills with leather working.

  2. #17
    Hint: Fix the cracks and splits BEFORE you strip it.



    I remove the hardware and soak it in Evaporust in an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. Then I rinse it off under water while I brush it by hand with a brass wire brush. When it's dry, I buff it on an electric buffer with buffing compound. The final step is polishing it by hand with Simichrome metal polish.

    That works for me.

    As for the handles:

  3. #18
    American Pickers is a fun show to watch sometimes and I'm always amazed how they love the stuff that is ragged, broken, and has missing parts. I understand that world and know people who have decorated their homes and shops with stuff that is so worn. I also understand that if it's a Stickley piece of furniture (which I collect), everything bronze (which I have), and other pieces of high quality work, it makes a little more sense. That being said.....vintage Gerstner chests are made to be restored if needed. You will never or rarely hurt the value of a Gerstner with a solid restoration. It's like they were made for people who love to do restorations and work with their hands. Bringing a beat-up, broken, or even a fairly good looking Gerstner to life is as rewarding as it gets. When people see your before and after pictures of a restoration....they can't believe these things ever existed and are somewhat envious.

  4. #19
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Springboro, OH
    I've never seen anybody on American Pickers ever find an old wood machinist tool chest. What's up with that?....Ted

  5. #20
    I prefer to think of it as putting them back into the condition they would have and should have been if they had been lovingly cared for all these years. The reality is that these boxes were tools and a means of making a living. They were not the objects of art we consider them to be now. Heck, they cost all of $14.00 back in the day and were very good at keeping your stash of valuable tools secure and organized. So what if they got a little worn and dirty!

    People fail to realize that many of these "reality" shows are TV productions. So much of their content is obviously staged, choreographed, and premeditated.

    You want reality? Check in on the forum more often. Here's where the rubber meets the road...

  6. #21
    I am the new guy here but a long time collector. I love Terry's restorations but I do gently argue with him. As a collector I never buy a refinished box. I buy nicely preserved boxes...meaning either beautiful and pampered or solid, used, dirty. I clean them. Sometimes I do a little evening of the finish. I polish them. That's about as far as I go.

    I agree with Terry about the value on the general market. The normal person to whom a Gerstner chest appeals wants pristine. I collect watches and Gerstners. I generally don't buy watches with polished cases or refinished dials. I clean off the dirt but, like most advanced collectors I want watches with the factory finish and if they have a little "patina" is better than losing the originality.

    There is room for both philosophies. I admire Terry's skill. I am so glad to have come here and found his articles and learned from his experience. But...I like to see the history. I like to know that a real pattern maker or tool and die maker or machinist or mechanic used the chests which have made their way to my collection.

    Whatever you will have a nice box.
    Hoosier Pocket Watch Collector
    Collector/Lover/User of Gerstner Cabs to Store Watches and Parts

  7. #22
    John is correct. Terry is correct. Iíve painted these things....not so correct.

  8. #23

    Ok, I give up

    I backpedalled from my extreme slash and burn position on this CE Jennings box. I didn't use full blown Methyl Chloride stripper on it, but I used After Wash and steel wool. It took the schmutz off, but left the patina.


    Jury's still out on whether I'll take it further... but I will definitely never paint it...

  9. #24
    I love it Terry...and I would never call what you do slash and burn.
    Hoosier Pocket Watch Collector
    Collector/Lover/User of Gerstner Cabs to Store Watches and Parts

  10. #25
    That looks pretty good

  11. #26

    I got carried away

    I couldn't help myself.... I had to go further. I sanded, and bleached, and sanded again. Then I stained it. Today it will receive more coats of polyurethane.


    I even polished the insides of the finger pulls. I think I have a problem...

  12. #27

    It's going to be beautiful.
    Hoosier Pocket Watch Collector
    Collector/Lover/User of Gerstner Cabs to Store Watches and Parts

  13. #28


    Next, I'll put on the decal I had made for it.


  14. #29
    Well I decided to take it down to bare and refinish it, running into a slight snag 3 of the drawer pulls won't screw out the pull is turning but the screw part is not. Any advice on how to get them out?

  15. #30
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Springboro, OH
    I had the same problem and ended up taking apart one so Icould see how it was constructed. The screw is long and has a flat thin headthat the front cover is formed over it. The cover loses its grip on the screwhead over time and use. I put a wash cloth over the cover and then gripped thecover with a small pair of channel-lock pliers with just enough pressure tounscrew the screw. Worked for me……Ted


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