Introduction: Restore a Rusty Old Tackle Box With Sand Blasting & Powder Coating

Picture of Restore a Rusty Old Tackle Box With Sand Blasting & Powder Coating

I found this ratty old tackle box in a pile of junk on the side of the road waiting for a dump run. How cool would that be if I restored it?!?
The top was just about rusted through, the hinges were frozen, the latch was rusted shut, but it was straight and still solid, so I gave it a go. There was lots of surface rust on the top and a bit on the insides and the rest was covered in the original paint.

The restoration is a basic two part process:
The first step is to sand blast and remove all paint and rust to expose a clean bare surface.
Next is to powder coat the inside, bake it, powder coat the outside, and bake it again.

Step 1: Clean the Tackle Box

Picture of Clean the Tackle Box

This box was pretty fouled up, so into the sand blaster it went for some deep exfoliation!
There were a lot of surfaces to get to. Each time I pulled it out for inspection I found a new area that had not been touched.

I wear mechanic's gloves inside the sandblaster's rubber gloves for sanitary sanity - it gets pretty warm in there under the bright lights.

Step 2: Prep Tackle Box for Powder

Picture of Prep Tackle Box for Powder

Preheat oven according to powder manufacturers instruction.  Mine is a silver color that bakes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.

With the box all blasted and bare, I blew out all the sand residue in preparation for the powder coat.
A quick rinse with degreaser gets rid of any residues of oil, and then air dry with the shop air hose.

Set up powder coating equipment.

Step 3: Powder Coat the Inside of the Tackle Box

Picture of Powder Coat the Inside of the Tackle Box

I decided to do the interior first.

I'm using a silver powder that I got from

Step 4: Bake the Tackle Box

Picture of Bake the Tackle Box

Since the outside was not coated yet, I just put the box on the rack.

Ten minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for my silver powder. Set a timer for consistency.

Notice how the soft powdery surface melts into a nice tough coating.

Step 5: Powder Coat the Outside of the Tackle Box

Picture of Powder Coat the Outside of the Tackle Box

Now comes the tricky part - I had to hang the box for coating the outside surfaces.
I twisted up some wire into two hooks to hold the box handle somewhat level in the oven.

Powder coating the outside was a bit easier - there are only six surfaces!

Step 6: Bake the Tackle Box Again

Picture of Bake the Tackle Box Again

This time the hook was used to hang the box from the rack so no edges touched the side or bottom of the oven.

Ten more minutes on the timer.

Step 7: Enjoy Your New Tackle Box

Picture of Enjoy Your New Tackle Box

Remove box from oven and hang until cool.

The powder coating is still soft at this time so don't bang it up!

Once it's cool, it's ready to be enjoyed.

Go ahead, ENJOY IT!

I did this project at The Tech Shop in Menlo Park, California.

If you decide to join and do your own cool projects, tell them Roballoba sent you!


Eh Lie Us! (author)2013-12-27

Man, this rocks in all sorts of ways.

Let me ask you something, What do you say to people that would see all the work you put into this and simply snort: Why don't you just buy a new one? I'm tired of explaining it to others. Maybe someone can help with a short but understandable phrase.

roballoba (author)Eh Lie Us!2013-12-28

Thanks for the comment and agreeing in the value.
You just tell them "They don't make them like they used to!"
This box was probably 50 years old when we found it, and now it could last another 50 years if it's taken care of. The plastic boxes they make now will be crumbling in the landfills long before this one now. I think I put about two hours work into the project and got to practice a new skill in the process. The experience was worth it.

mattthomas992003 (author)2014-03-16

I envy people that have these tools

Cheese Queen (author)2013-10-18

For a non-toxic alternative to rust and paint removal, check out any number of youtubes and instructables on removing rust with electrolysis.
If you have a battery charger, a bucket, some scrap steel and some washing soda from walmart, you're ready to go.

fede82xx (author)Cheese Queen2013-10-20

uhm, i don't think so.
electrolysis with NaOH and iron as catode and anode, generate waste to purify with a chemical-phisycal purifier, it also generate hidrogen from the electrolysis procedure.
However, in order to clean metal from rust, we need acid solutions like HCl at 10-30% of volume with water; electrolysis using NaOH will remove grease and oil, it increase fragility of the metal in order to gain hidrogen on the surface...and at least, electrolysis for degreasing using NaOH works on a 4-6 Vcc, if you're using 12 V battery you will burn your piece of metal because there's too much current on the spike, you have to provide 2-4 A/dm2

farmboy79 (author)fede82xx2013-10-23

Usually sodium carbonate Na2CO3 otherwise known as washing soda is used with water as the electrolyte for electrolytic rust removal. Washing soda also removes grease and oil so your finish coating will adhere better. Many have removed rust from sheet metal with good results but lower current chargers are usually recommended. If you are worried about hydrogen embrittlement bake the metal after rust removal.

Arghus (author)2013-10-15

simply WOW unbelievably good turnout

tinajuarez (author)2013-10-14

I have several metal toolboxes that survived a PG&E Smartmeter explosion & fire,but their paint didn't. This is still better than the plastic tool boxes which melted and destroyed their contents. Unfortunately I don't have a sand blaster [or powder coater].. Do you have any strategies for getting past this step? thanks

rncbme (author)tinajuarez2013-10-15

There are several Instructables on various methods of removing rust that range from using lime juice to electrolysis. Which ever method you choose be ready to prime/paint as soon as you finish removing the rust to prevent 'flash' rust from occurring.

roballoba (author)tinajuarez2013-10-14

chemical stripper and a wire brush should help, its a bit messy and slightly painful if you touch it, so be careful.

Bo0tyBandit (author)2013-10-13

Nice, but not all of us have sandblasters, powerder coating guns or an ovens. Maybe an update with alternative methods for paint removal and a paint job tougher than regular spray paint?.

tinajuarez (author)Bo0tyBandit2013-10-14

Rustoleum hammertone paint is great if one doesn't have a powder coat.. Don't but the spray though..careful brushing won't show any brushmarks and the can paint will last longer. I have several tool boxes that got messed and rusted in the fire, still work but look a wreck..the newer versions of the same rolling tool box uses a much light gauge steel and feels quite flimsy! THe shattered shoulder isn't happy with too much scrubbing gesture as of yet..1 year later!

roballoba (author)Bo0tyBandit2013-10-13

there are some pretty aggressive wire wheels you can get for a drill, but I have to say, ask your local powder coating facility to see if you can rent time on their equipment.
Check auto repair and refinishing shops.. I am sure there is something near you if you are resourceful.

lukeyj15 (author)Bo0tyBandit2013-10-13

Aviation paint stripper. That is nasty stuff, but will rip paint off anything. Not sure about painting, maybe a metal paint of some sort?

gwood6 (author)2013-10-14

Is a proper little master-peice !!

HavocRC (author)2013-10-14

That's awesome!

shizumadrive (author)2013-10-13

How does that work with the latch? Did it end up baking shut? Or not getting full coverage?

roballoba (author)shizumadrive2013-10-13

the latch was just barely latched so there was no real issue. it has a safety catch so it was slightly ajar during the coating and baking process.

shizumadrive (author)roballoba2013-10-14

Thanks have never done powder coating and have been curious about how to handle moving parts.

txlady66 (author)2013-10-13

Really nice, I have an old metal tool box I got from brother that was given to him by our dad. Can I ship it to you and you powder coat for me????. Since I do not have access to any place like that.

roballoba (author)txlady662013-10-13

if you are looking to have this professionally done, check your local area for powder coating - it's more reasonable than you might think.

Bo0tyBandit (author)txlady662013-10-13

LOL I was gonna ask the same thing but I didn't think he would go for it.

Beauhunt (author)2013-10-11

Great job. This takes some of the mystery out of powder coating. It's impressive how 'new' the box looks. Thanks for the instructable.

roballoba (author)Beauhunt2013-10-13

thanks! it has a nice texture where the rust ate it's way into the metal, but it's a great "new" box now!

bo88y (author)2013-10-13

Gorgeous project. Newer tackle boxes tend to have plastic trays, so this one is especially nice. I'm not completely against plastic (its lightness makes it good for larger tool boxes), but for smaller boxes like this, there's something more solid and permanent about metal.
--- Currently there are only seven Tech Shops, three of them around San Francisco. For the rest of us, there are either friends with access to sand blasting equipment or wire brushes (plain or spinning) and sandpaper. And there's Rust Reformer and other similar products and some pretty good rusty-metal primers. Sanding in crevices is a lot easier with sandpaper folded around small pieces of plastic from credit cards, milk jugs, and frozen-entree dishes (Stiff, medium, soft). These save lots of time and effort.
--- Using these conventional methods, I restored an old medicine cabinet in my apartment in order to avoid a new one, and it's still doing fine after almost 14 years in a damp environment. So don't be discouraged by lack of a Tech Shop in your area, if you've got metal things in need of some work.
Tech Shop current locations:
Menlo Park, CA
San Francisco, CA
San Jose, CA
Raleigh-Durham, NC
Detroit: Allen Park, MI
Austin: Round Rock, TX
Pittsburgh, PA

Chandler, AZ Openining Nov. 2013
NYC and Wash,DC in planning

blensign (author)2013-10-13

Wish i had access to great tools and classes like that.
Great job salvaging and giving a good box a new second life. Free box, fun with tools and cool box to own in the end. Would love to give my dads tool boxes that I inherited a going over, some are pretty old with a few rusting spots and very greasy. Wouldnt know where to start. I didnt know powder coating could be so acessable to the everyday person. Really intreresting and great photos.
Im getting tired of cheap plastic products that wear out and breakdown so quickly. Thanks for the cool instructable!

cesar20 (author)2013-10-13

Nice work man!!

Grunambulax (author)2013-10-12

Beautiful job. Do you have to do anything to protect hinges or latch? I saw similar with wrench and wondered if it would mess threads up?

mr_marte (author)2013-10-12

Very nice!

bob3030 (author)2013-10-10

Cool job. No need to let that tackle box in up in a land fill. When I first started reading I suspected you had access to some sort of "Makers Club". The sand blaster and powder coat oven was a dead giveaway. I always like reuse/recycle projects. Thanks for promoting Tech Shop and thank you for sharing your project.

roballoba (author)bob30302013-10-11


neo71665 (author)2013-10-10

Tech shop a good way for cityslickers to waste money to get their hands dirty.

roballoba (author)neo716652013-10-11

I had all the shop classes in school, the tech shop fills that void. You are right - it's a great place to get your hands dirty!

Mindmapper1 (author)2013-10-09

very good.

roballoba (author)Mindmapper12013-10-10


pfred2 (author)2013-10-09

I've restored a number of old metal boxes and I just clean them up, then paint them with a rust inhibiting paint. Good enough for me.

roballoba (author)pfred22013-10-10

it was a cool box and a whim to make a new instructable... I have just painted ammo boxes in the past, but now I have all this access! No big fancy tools in my garage...

Jackoffmanytrades (author)2013-10-09

Nice I love how alot of people on here uses their jobs equipment for personal projects.

The Tech Shop is like a gym in that you buy a monthly membership to use the cool tools that are too big or expensive to have at home. You should check it out if there is one near you. The offer free memberships for Vets as well.

pfred2 (author)roballoba2013-10-10

No Tech Shop by me. I'm not doing too badly in the cool, big, expensive tool department by myself though.

About This Instructable




Bio: Trying to learn faster than I forget. It will be cool to make some stuff along the way.
More by roballoba:Fix a TrellisFlame Grilled Oreo Cookies - S'Mores Are Gonna Hate This One.Fix a Broken Stud / Remove a Broken Bolt
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