a rusty toolbox.

Back when I sent a welcome email to Miss Mustard Seed, a.k.a. Marian Parsons, she offered to send me some of her products to try.  How totally awesome of her, right?  But I had to admit, I’d pretty much worked with most of them already.

However, I thought I vaguely remembered reading somewhere that her Tough Coat Sealer had been re-formulated to have more of a matte finish since the last time I’d used it.  So I asked her to please send me some of that.

So the other day when I was contemplating what product to use to seal the rusty toolbox I brought home from that garage sale I wondered if I could use the Tough Coat Sealer.

The toolbox isn’t terribly bad on the outside, but the inside was quite rusty.  It was rather greasy and dirty as well.

So I did a little google research.  I googled “using Miss Mustard Seed Tough Coat Sealer to seal rusty metal” and that search took me directly to this post from Miss Mustard herself where she conveniently addresses that question in the comment section.  She also mentions the reformulation of the Tough Coat Sealer in the post itself.

So, full steam ahead.

I first scrubbed the toolbox well with Dawn dishwashing soap and one of those 3M Scotch Brite scrubbies.  I tend to use dishwashing soap when I’m trying to cut grease.  I suppose that TSP substitute would work just as well, if not even better, but I haven’t tried that.

I wasn’t aiming for perfection here, just an easy clean up and coat of sealer that would allow me to store stuff in the toolbox without it getting all gross.

Once the toolbox was dry, I simply brushed on the Tough Coat Sealer.  I gave the inside bottom of the toolbox a 2nd coat just to be sure I was taking care of that rust, while every other surface only received one coat.  Here’s how the inside looks after …

Much improved, wouldn’t you say?

Although it’s cleaned up and the rust is sealed, I also added a paper liner just to make it a little prettier.  I used one of my favorite October Afternoon papers, and just laid it in place with no adhesive.  If it gets grungy over time I can easily replace it.

Here is how the toolbox looks on the outside with its coat of Tough Coat Sealer.

I did save the label.

I think I might use the toolbox to store my ribbons.

I don’t really know why I have such a fascination for rusty old toolboxes.

Something about them just appeals to me, especially when they are used for something unexpected, like vintage ribbon.

Looking at the ‘before’ and ‘after’ pics side by side you might be thinking that they don’t look all that different, but that actually was my goal.  I wanted to seal the rusty metal so it wouldn’t rub off on things or continue to deteriorate, but I also wanted to retain the rusty aged patina.

The Tough Coat Sealer did that perfectly.  It added a tiny amount of shine and it darkened up the color just slightly as well, but for the most part it didn’t change the look by much.

So the next time you need to seal some rusty old metal, consider reaching for the Tough Coat Sealer.

And speaking of Miss Mustard Seed, tomorrow is her workshop with Carver Junk Co.  I think they may still have some spaces left and tomorrow is supposed to be cool and stormy, so a perfect day for hanging out indoors and learning about milk paint.

I’ll be there and I’d love to see you there too!

23 thoughts on “a rusty toolbox.

  1. Love how the tough coat darkened the colors on the toolbox and sealed it. I have a toolbox at my booth and for some reason it is not selling as quickly as others I have sold there so maybe that’s something that will help it’s lackluster appearance! I have been a little crazy this week but I wanted to let you know that all the posts on the dresser, the mirror and the handkerchief boxes were inspiring. I especially loved the chalkboard mirror transformation. And are you so excited about the milkpaint workshop!? Kinda like meeting a superstar…


    1. I am excited, and a little bit nervous! What if everyone figures out my secret, that I’m really just a nerdy, middle-aged woman who paints furniture all the time? But then again, maybe everyone has already figured that out 😉


  2. Really wish I was in the area so I could attend that class. I explored that shop on the internet the last time you mentioned the class and it looks like a great store to shop too. I have that sealer, though probably not the matte one, and haven’t used it yet. I’m going to try it on some rusty coat hooks that came on a vintage coat rack. Thanks for the tip and the inspiration to use products in different ways.


    1. It is a great shop. It’s actually close to an hour’s drive from me, so I don’t get there very often. I’m looking forward to checking it out tomorrow if I have time (the workshop is not being held in the shop). And I’m glad I’m inspiring you to get out those products and give them a try!


  3. Thanks for sharing this tip. I was looking forward to meeting you tomorrow at the workshop but I had to drop out of it. My uncle’s funeral is tomorrow morning in Maple Grove. I was close to him and knew that’s where my priorities needed to be. I think you have a lot to share with those attending the workshop. Your projects are always beautiful!


    1. Oh Carrie, I’m so sorry for your loss. Of course the funeral is where you should be tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll get another opportunity to meet sometime down the road!


  4. Great tool box thanks for sharing the info about MMS’s product. I wonder if I could use this on top of Fusion to cut the sheen? Any thoughts?


    1. I would say that the sheen is about the same with both products. I should try an experiment and put them side by side and see how they look. I’ll report back if I do!


  5. Thanks for the helpful info. Oh to be at that workshop tomorrow…Cheers to nerdy women who like to paint furniture all the time-they inspire us to do the same!


  6. I’m just working on a old welding bench that I’m going to redo for a coffee table. The frame and legs are rusty.I was wondering about using MMSMP hemp oil on them. Have you ever tried that? I love rusty stuff and same as you I want to clean it up but want to keep the old look!


    1. You definitely can use the hemp oil on your rusty legs 😉 It will freshen them up a bit, but I don’t think it will seal in the rust as well as the Tough Coat Sealer would. I guess it depends on what your goal is. If you just want to clean them up a bit and give them a fresh look, the hemp oil is great. If you want to seal them so that when you brush up against them with your white jeans on you don’t mess them up, I think I’d go with the Tough Coat Sealer.


  7. Hi! I am going to the event tomorrow as well! I follow your blog — LOVE your stuff. I’m going To the afternoon workshop so if you are there, I’d love to say hi. I am Jill Hayworth.

    If you’re in the morning session, maybe I’ll see you after yours. Honestly, in a world so overloaded with blogs and Instagram and Facebook, it exhausts me but I actually have a reminder on my phone to check my email each day for your newsletter and mms’s as well. And no, I’m not a stalker, lol.

    Hope to say hi! I’m coming from Iowa — am on the drive up now..eta 8:03. Yay!


    Sent from my iPhone



    1. That’s so awesome that you are coming all the way from Iowa Jill! I am planning to be at both sessions tomorrow, I’m sort of a cross between a volunteer and a groupie! or maybe I’m a MMS stalker myself 😉 I’ll look forward to meeting you!


    2. Hi Jill,
      I’m from Iowa too but grew up in the Twin Cities! I was signed up to attend the workshop too but had to drop out due to a funeral for my uncle. Great to hear from other MMS stalkers in IA (now I’m stalking Q) I’m sure you had a great day learning at the workshop and meeting both MMS and Q.


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