How to Care for a Wooden Toolbox

Tips for Maintaining a Wooden Toolbox Many people have heirloom wooden tool boxes that have been passed down from their parents, grandparents, or even great-grandparents. And while you may know how to care for different materials, wooden tool boxes have different needs from truck tool boxes or triangle tool boxes. Knowing that, which wood care techniques should be used? Below are some common wood care methods, and how they may or may not work well for your wooden tool box.


Dusting your toolbox is important to prevent scratches. If certain particles sit on your tool box for too long, they can cause damage to the surface of the box. To dust, use soft and dry cloths. You can even repurpose an old sock or t-shirt to make a good cloth. Avoid using silicon sprays that can sink into the wood if it is unfinished.


Do not use all-purpose cleaner on your treasured wooden tool box. This can sometimes affect the finish or stain of the piece and leave the wood warped. Usually, you will not want to use any liquids when cleaning the wooden tool box in order to prevent the wood from holding liquid or molding. However, if there is anything tacky or sticky on the wooden tool box, you might consider using a gentle soap and water mixture. Lightly dampened your cloth in sudsy water and wipe the area and immediately dry it with a clean, dry cloth.

Polishing Wood

Polished surfaces leave wood looking shiny and protect the surface. To polish your wooden tool box, consider making your own polish with equal parts olive oil, denatured alcohol, gum turpentine, and strained lemon juice. Like cleaning, apply with a soft cloth and wipe with a different dry and soft cloth. You can use store-bought, commercial spray and liquid furniture polishes, but be aware that some can interfere with refinishing. This type of damage would likely need to be undone by a professional. To be on the safe side, make your own.

Polishing Hardware

To polish any hardware on your wooden tool box, including locks and handles, remove all the hardware and polish separately. Unlike with the wood, you can use a store-bought metal cleaner to polish the hardware. Follow the instructions on the bottle for a like-new shine. Once the hardware is completely dry, you can reattach it to the tool box.


Be sure to properly follow the instructions on the type of wax you use. Through waxing, your wooden tool box can have a hard finish, long-lasting protection, smear-resistant finish, and durability that lasts for generations. Proper wax care can increase the lifespan of the tool box, but improper wax techniques can cause permanent damage to the integrity of the box. Always apply wax in light coats to prevent buildup. If a streak occurs, keep wiping to remove excess wax, and if you want more shine, apply a second coat of wax. After you wax your wooden tool box, be sure to avoid using liquid or aerosol furniture polishes, since they can break down the wax and leave a film.

Repairing Scratches

It’s common for wooden tool boxes to get scratched while you’re organizing your tools. Many scratches can be fixed with wax or a touch-up pen. If you have a deep scratch or gouge in the wood, go for a stainable wood filler or colored wood filler. Try to match as closely to your tool box by taking the box to the hardware store with you if possible.

Wooden tool boxes may require more upkeep than a metal tool box, which need their own specialized upkeep, but they also come with a lot more character. We hope this article helped provide some tips that will help with your needs. As always, for personalized advice, visit your local hardware store.