Restoring a 1950s Cass Toy Co. Toy Chest

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This is my dad’s toy chest, given to him when he was little by my grandparents.  It is from Cass Toy Co in Athol, Massachusetts.  They produced several different series in these including a Circus, Nursery Rhymes and Pirates.

My dad wanted the chest repaired so that it could be used and displayed.  He wanted to keep the character and history as well.  In order to do this properly I needed to be able to replicate the images on the chest.  I started by researching the company and hitting a dead end.  The toy company closed in 1997 and since burned down in 2012.  I was able to contact one of the sons, who explained that many of the original artworks for the toy chests were destroyed in the fires.

A little history:

Cass Toy Company History

Old Wooden Toys

Recreating the Artwork

Since I had hit a dead end in my search for the original artwork for the chest I had to figure out the best way to do this myself.  I started by reaching out to one of the forums I use, thankfully a custom guitar maker had some tips for me.  He suggested capturing the images and having a print shop create them for me, but that was a little out of the price range I wanted to stay in.  So I decided to try my hand at capturing the images myself to recreate them.  I pulled out my camera and took tons of photos of each design.

Cass Wheel and Lantern

Once I had all the images taken and loaded into Photoshop I started the process of creating paint mask stencils.  Once I cleaned up each image in Photoshop I imported them into my cutting machine software to trace and cut the paint mask for each one. This wasn’t an easy task.  Each photo had to be edited to remove the grain, replace the missing color and redraw any missing lines or edges.  It was a very long and tedious process.

Editing the captured image
After editing with Photoshop


Tracing the stencil

Once all the stencils were made I moved onto the chest.  I first removed all the trim and sanded.  I filled the large cut my uncle had made with a saw in the top when he was little and repaired the cracks.

This was about the time my younger brother saw picture of what I was doing to Dad’s toy chest and about had a heart attack screaming at me.  Which thank the lord this didn’t end up badly or he would still be screaming at me.

Using the stencils I created earlier, I placed them where the images had originally been. Then masked off the area around them before using Plutonium Deep Space to paint them on.

Plutonium Spray Paint in Deep Space

Once I had each image recreated on the chest I used a custom stain mix to match the old color.  I then finished with three coats of Modern Master’s Masterclear in matte.

I found replacement nail caps online in an antique hardware swap group and refreshed all the caps again with Plutonium Deep Space.  I replaced the hinges and the rope handles.

The last thing to do was to replace the name on the chest using the same method of stenciling and some Antique Gold Rub N Buff. Then it was ready to hold all my dad’s vintage record collection!


Now that you’ve seen a little of what I’ve been working on, I want to also share with you something new!  A few friends and I have been teaming up for monthly projects to share with you in our Crafty Girls and Furniture Friends group.


9 thoughts on “Restoring a 1950s Cass Toy Co. Toy Chest”

  1. The toy chest makeover looks fantastic and I’m very impressed that you were able to recreate the graphics so well! Sounds like a very long and tedious process but I’m sure your dad was ecstatic!

  2. What a wonderful undertaking! I am a true history geek, and I love that you brought this toy chest back to life, keeping the integrity of the original piece. Well done!

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