10 Best Vintage Toolbox Brands. Vintage tool chest collection with brands such as Stanley, Moore & Wright, and Craftsman. This image is perfect for anyone interested in vintage tools, tool chests, or woodworking.

10 Best Vintage Toolbox Brands

Discover the Top 10 Vintage Toolbox Brands Known for Their Quality and Collectibility

10 Best Vintage Toolbox Brands.

Vintage tool chest collection with brands such as Stanley, Moore & Wright, and Craftsman. This image is perfect for anyone interested in vintage tools, tool chests, or woodworking.

As a collector of vintage tools or someone who simply appreciates quality craftsmanship, having an old toolbox full of specialized tools can be a point of pride. Vintage toolboxes have a certain nostalgic appeal and remind us of the skilled tradespeople who used them decades ago.

Many of the top vintage toolbox brands were in operation during the first half of the 20th century. While some of these companies have gone out of business over the years, their toolboxes are still sought after by collectors and restorers today.

In this guide, we’ll explore 10 of the best vintage toolbox brands and highlight what makes them notable. Whether you’re looking to buy an original vintage toolbox, restore an old one you found, or just appreciate the history – this list has you covered.

An Introduction to Vintage Toolboxes

Before we dive into the brands, let’s quickly touch on why vintage toolboxes are so popular among collectors and restoration enthusiasts.

Toolboxes produced in the early to mid-1900s were generally made to a high standard, using quality materials like heavy-gauge steel or hardwoods. The goal was functionality and durability, with toolboxes built to last a tradesman’s entire career.

Many companies took great pride in their work, producing toolboxes that weren’t just practical but also well-crafted and handsome. The vintage toolboxes made by companies on this list often fetch high prices today due to their reputation for quality.

For collectors, the appeal lies in both the nostalgia and craftsmanship these old boxes represent. For restorers, vintage toolboxes provide a sturdy, vintage container to store restored tools and create an authentic mid-century workspace.

Let’s look at 10 of the most notable vintage toolbox brands, including established leaders in the space as well as defunct companies now known for their collectibility.

1. H. Gerstner & Sons

10 Best Vintage Toolbox Brands - H. Gerstner & Sons

Vintage H. Gerstner & Sons tool chest. H. Gerstner & Sons is one of the best vintage tool box brands, and this chest is a fine example of their craftsmanship. It is made of solid wood and features a variety of compartments and drawers for storing tools and equipment. This chest would be a great addition to any workshop or home.

No list of vintage toolbox brands would be complete without mentioning H. Gerstner & Sons. Founded in 1906, the company is still in operation today and is considered the gold standard when it comes to collectible wooden tool chests.

Gerstner toolboxes are handcrafted from high-quality woods like oak, cherry, and maple. They are renowned for their meticulous joinery and hand-fitted drawers. The result is a toolbox built to last generations.

Notable features of Gerstner tool chests include:

  • Precision dovetail joinery: The drawers are hand-fitted using strong dovetail joints.
  • Felt-lined drawers: Red felt lining protects tools and prevents rattling.
  • Smooth-sliding drawers: Drawers open and close smoothly on steel roller glides.
  • Locks: Most models have central locking bars or individual drawer locks.
  • Portability: Large models have wheels for mobility. Smaller chests have integrated handles.

Gerstner tool chests were popular among machinists, carpenters, and railroad workers in the early 1900s. Today, the company’s vintage models are prized by both collectors and those looking for a high-quality toolbox with an impeccable pedigree.

2. Union Tool Chest Company

10 Best Vintage Toolbox Brands - Union Tool Chest Company

Vintage wooden toolbox with 10 drawers and a brass handle

The Union Tool Chest Company was in operation from the late 1800s through the 1950s. Based in Auburn, Indiana, the company made a name for itself by producing sturdy wooden tool chests and cabinets.

Their vintage wooden chests and rollaway cabinets are now sought-after collectibles, known for their quality hardwood construction. Oak was frequently used, along with other hardwoods like hickory. Union Tool chests were built to last with features like:

  • Dovetail and mitre joinery: Joints were tightly fitted and reinforced with wood pegs.
  • Piano hinges: Hinges were made of steel and extended the full length of doors.
  • Felt-lined drawers: Red or green drawer lining protected tools.
  • Locks: Central locking bars or individual hasp locks secured contents.
  • Varnished finish: A spar varnish finish protected the wood from moisture and wear.

The company branded their products with the slogan “Built Like a Battleship.” The craftsmanship and materials lived up to this claim, making many Union Tool chests well over 100 years old today.

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3. Stanley

10 Best Vintage Toolbox Brands - Stanley.

Vintage toolbox from Stanley, one of the 10 best vintage toolbox brands.
Wooden toolbox with metal hardware and Stanley logo.
Image of a vintage Stanley toolbox.

When it comes to vintage metal toolboxes, Stanley is one of the most iconic brands. Founded in 1843, the company made various metal tools and hardware for over a century.

Their vintage metal toolboxes from the 1920s through the 1960s are popular with collectors and restorers today. Models like the Stanley Model 409 have a simple, utilitarian look and sturdy all-steel construction.

What makes vintage Stanley toolboxes notable includes:

  • Sheet metal construction: Durable sheet metal protects contents from damage.
  • Baked enamel finish: Paint was applied and baked on for a glossy, protective finish.
  • Metal or wood handles: Steel handles provided a solid grip; wood handles gave a classic look.
  • Latches: Stanley boxes featured simple slide latches or single-point latching mechanisms.
  • Logo badging: The vintage Stanley logo featured the company motto “Accuracy, Durability, and Convenience.”

Stanley toolboxes were built to be rugged and reliable for tradesmen. Stanley was known industry-wide for quality metal tools, and their metal storage boxes lived up to that reputation.

4. Wright & Moore

10 Best Vintage Toolbox Brands - Wright.

Vintage Moore & Wright toolbox with seven drawers.
Wooden toolbox with metal handle and Moore & Wright label.
Image of a vintage toolbox labeled "Moore & Wright Vintage Engineers Tool Chest Collectors Cabinet Drawers Contents".

Like Stanley, Wright was another major player when it came to metal toolboxes in the first half of the 20th century. The Wright Tool and Forge Company operated between 1890 and the 1960s.

Based in Chicago, Wright made various tools and toolboxes to meet the needs of growing industries like auto mechanic work and metal fabrication. Their stamped metal toolboxes were known industry-wide for their durability.

Characteristic features of vintage Wright toolboxes include:

  • Formed sheet metal: Durable construction made from a single sheet of metal.
  • Baked enamel finish: A glossy, protective finish in various colors like maroon or green.
  • Metal handles: Riveted steel handles for lifting and carrying.
  • Latch: A simple sliding latch kept the lid tightly closed.
  • Logo: The Wright logo featured an anthropomorphized hammer.

Like other major vintage brands, Wright toolboxes were built to high standards and continue be sturdy containers decades after they were made.

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5. Mac Tools

10 Best Vintage Toolbox Brands - Mac Tools.

Vintage MAC Tools toolbox with four drawers. The toolbox is made of orange metal and has the MAC Tools logo on the front. It is a classic example of a vintage tool chest and is a popular collectible among tool enthusiasts.

Mac Tools got its start in the 1930s selling tools to auto mechanics and garages. Based in Ohio, the company is still around today manufacturing mechanics’ tools and equipment.

While Mac made various storage solutions over the decades, their vintage roll cabs and toolboxes from the 1940s-1960s are most prized by collectors today. Details like:

  • Steel construction: All-steel build made boxes extremely durable.
  • Lift-out tray: Handy removable tray for often-used tools.
  • Casters: Large rear wheels and front casters for rolling.
  • Enamel finish: Thick baked enamel paint protected against wear.
  • Mac logo: Either a raised metal badge or painted logo.

Mac’s vintage boxes were built to endure years of use in harsh shop environments. The durability and functionality make them great for use today.

6. Matco Tools

10 Best Vintage Toolbox Brands - Matco Tools

Founded in 1946, Matco Tools is another vintage brand focused on the auto mechanic industry. Their metal roll cabs and toolboxes were staples in garages and repair shops in the mid-1900s.

Like Mac Tools boxes, vintage Matco boxes are appreciated for their heavy-duty steel construction and functionality. Common features include:

  • Sheet metal over wood: Metal exterior with wood-reinforced structure.
  • Lift-out tray: Handy top tray for frequently used tools.
  • Casters: Integrated casters made boxes easily mobile.
  • Baked enamel finish: Thick, glossy paint in Matco’s signature red.
  • Matco logo: Prominent vintage Matco branding on the sides.

Matco boxes were built to provide mechanics with secure, mobile tool storage. These decades-old boxes still serve that function impressively today.

7. Thorsen

10 Best Vintage Toolbox Brands - Thorsen

Thorsen was a manufacturer of various tools and toolboxes founded in 1929 by Edward A. “Ned” Boyd, Sherm Haskins, and Pete Mortensen. The company produced a popular line of all-steel toolboxes ideal for both workshop and job site use.

Some notable features of vintage Thorsen boxes include:

  • All-steel construction: Formed and welded sheet steel for durability.
  • Baked enamel finish: A thick glossy paint, often in green or gray.
  • Metal handles: Fixed side handles for easy carrying.
  • Hasp latches: Simple metal latches kept tools secure within.
  • Logo plate: A metal logo plate was riveted on the lid.

Thorsen toolboxes were built with practicality and durability in mind. These simple steel boxes have survived decades of use to become popular vintage collectibles.

8. Armstrong Bros. Tool Company

10 Best Vintage Toolbox Brands - Armstrong Bros. Tool Company

Chicago was a hub for tool manufacturing in the early 1900s, including companies like Armstrong Bros. Tool Company. Founded in 1890, the company made various tools along with toolboxes marketed primarily toward carpenters and cabinet makers.

Their vintage wooden toolboxes are notable for their functionality and quality wood construction using durable hardwoods. Features often include:

  • Solid hardwood: Oak, walnut, or mahogany were commonly used.
  • Dovetail joinery: Hand-cut dovetails made the boxes strong and handsome.
  • Brass hardware: Hinges, latches, and handles were made of solid brass.
  • Metal reinforced corners: Steel plates protected high-wear corners.
  • Removable trays: Sliding trays or lift-out totes kept tools organized.

Armstrong Bros. toolboxes were built to high standards out of quality materials. Their vintage boxes remain sturdy storage solutions today.

9. Wedell & Boers

10 Best Vintage Toolbox Brands - Wedell & Boers

Operating in Chicago in the early 1900s, Wedell & Boers was another vintage brand that produced metal toolboxes designed for portability and durability.

Their riveted metal toolboxes are notable for straightforward construction featuring:

  • Riveted steel: Rivets reinforced sheet metal at the corners.
  • Sheet metal handles: Fixed, folded handles on each end.
  • Removable trays: Some models had lift-out trays.
  • Hasp latches: Hasp latches kept lids tightly closed.
  • Baked enamel finish: A thick painted finish protected the steel.

Wedell & Boers toolboxes were no-frills yet thoughtfully designed for tradespeople needing sturdy, portable storage. These utilitarian boxes are great vintage finds today.

10. Pilliod

10 Best Vintage Toolbox Brands - Pilliod

Image of a wooden chest of drawers with brass knobs. The chest is made of dark wood and has six drawers. It is labeled "Vintage Pilliod Wood Machinists Toolbox Tool Box - Antiques & Collectibles - Algonquin, Illinois

Our last brand, Pilliod, was based in Ohio and manufactured sturdy metal toolboxes in the first half of the 1900s. Their boxes were sold under the brand name B-Line and used by railway workers, mechanics, and other tradespeople.

Characteristic features of Pilliod toolboxes include:

  • Riveted sheet metal: Rivets reinforced the structure at stress points.
  • Baked enamel finish: Thick paint withstood workshop wear and tear.
  • Metal handles: Fixed side handles for easy carrying.
  • Slide latches: Simple slide latches secured the lids.
  • Logo plate: A branded logo plate was fixed to the lid.

Pilliod’s riveted boxes were built for portability, security, and years of durable use. Their vintage models maintain those qualities today.

Key Takeaways

Vintage toolboxes produced by companies like H. Gerstner & Sons, Stanley, and Union Tool Chest Company were designed for tradespeople who needed durable, reliable storage.

While some of these major brands have been around for over a century, even vintage boxes from defunct companies maintain their functionality today.

Here are some key traits to look for when identifying quality vintage toolboxes:

  • Durable materials like solid hardwoods or heavy-gauge steel that withstand wear and tear.
  • Sturdy construction using reliable joinery like dovetail joints or reinforced metal riveting at stress points.
  • Well-designed features that aided portability, like integrated handles and casters, or security like quality locking mechanisms.
  • Attention to detail like felt-lined drawers to protect tool surfaces and high-quality finishes.
  • Branding like logos and plates that identify the original manufacturer.

Owning a toolbox produced by one of the top vintage brands provides a sturdy, collectible piece of history. For both collectors and those needing storage, the superior design and craftsmanship of these vintage models endures decade after decade.

The brands highlighted in this guide represent some of the most well-known and coveted names when it comes to vintage metal and wooden tool boxes. Whether restoring tools yourself or starting a collection, you can’t go wrong with an original box from any of these companies. Their time-tested construction shows why they were so trusted by tradespeople originally and remain cherished today.