Vintage Sporting and Collectors' Antique Machinist Chests

Machinist Tool Chest History

Originally designed and built for the specific needs of the Machinery Trade as early as the late 1800's, these unique, hand crafted, hardwood chests were sought after by professional Machinists for the storage, protection, and portability of their valuable precision tools.


The breathability and moisture absorbing characteristics of natural hardwoods provided corrosion resistance so that tools stored in the chests stayed free of rust. The majority of these fine antique chests were constructed of Quartersawn Oak. However, chests built of Walnut, Cherry, and Mahogany, although more rare, can also still be found. The numerous tin-bottomed and felt-lined drawers, of various sizes, provided cushioned protection for the machinist's precision tools and instruments, and allowed the owner to carefully store and lay out his tools in a neat and orderly fashion. The front cover which stores beneath the bottom drawer, provide a work space when open, and locked when closed to provide security.


H. Gerstner & Sons, Inc

H. Gerstner & Sons of Dayton, Ohio was one of the predominant early machinist tool chest builders, beginning production in 1906. Harry Gerstner's goal was to “design and build top quality wooden chests and cases for individuals who understand the meaning of true craftsmanship and who appreciate the value of a product that, with care, can last a lifetime”. Gerstner also made chests for other machinist tool manufacturers such as the Starrett Tool Company.

Union Tool Chest Company

The Union Tool Chest Company of Rochester, NY, was founded in 1893, and was also a primary builder of early machinist's tool chests, both under the Union name as well as for the US Government’s World War I and World War II machinist apprenticeship programs. Union also produced chests for retailers including Sears Roebuck under the Craftsman name.

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