Repurposing a Letterpress Cabinet




About: I am a teacher outside of Boston and I love making cool stuff! Any prizes I'm lucky enough to win will go directly to my classroom (when appropriate) where I teach 6-12th grade English & Social Studies (...

I was able to get my hands on an an old Hamilton Letterpress Cabinet. The only real problem, its' former owner was a sculptor/artisan and used it for housing type pieces that he used with his work. The insides of the cabinet drawers were covered with dust and dried clay. With the help of my vacuum, Clorox wipes, and Murphy's Oil, we've been able to get this piece back to presentable shape and functional.

Step 1: Vacuum

The inside of the trays were pretty disgusting. Covered with dirt and what I was convinced was mold, it took hours of vacuuming to get all the dust out. Some trays were worse off than others.

Step 2: Disinfectant Wipes

We used disinfectant wipes, toothbrushes, and q-tips to clean out each tray square. Then each tray sat either out in the sun or in the sunlight for at least a day to dry. In some of the pictures it's hard to see a difference, but if you were to wipe your finger inside a dirty and then a clean, you'd definitely see it.

Step 3: Oil

We used Murphy's Wood Oil to clean the outside of the cabinet. Which got it looking nice and shiny.

Step 4: Fill!

I got the idea for using the cabinet trays to house beads and electrical components from a semi-local bead store that has TONS of much larger cabinets that they use to organize their beads by color. I haven't gotten that far, we're kind of organizing it by type. The top half of the cabinet is bead and jewelry making supplies and then bottom half will be for electrical parts and components.

This piece has been fantastic for organizing our smaller items that were previously found stashed in different places around our apartment.



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    2 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Aye, but where to find old letterpress cases?
    There's the rub. Getting scarcer all the time.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Oh! I can't believe I didn't mention that! What I ended up doing was setting a CraigsList alert for letterpress cabinets. It actually only took a few days for one to pop up that was affordable ($125 and an hour drive). We did go to a few salvage places, but they all wanted hundreds of dollars for incomplete cabinets. Basically watching CraigsList and checking out yardsales etc will be your best friend.