Dumped & Found: Vintage Army Chest of Drawers

Vintage Industrial Army Machinists Chest

          I’m starting a new series called “Dumped & Found”.  It features pieces that I have found at the dump, in a trash can, or on the side of the road.  Things others (crazy people I call them) have “dumped” and I have “found”!  The first piece I am sharing was picked up last weekend.  Actually, the story began last summer.  I bought a huge sectional from our local ReStore with the plan to reupholster it.  After it sat in my garage for months my husband had had it with that “project”.  When we recently purchased a new sofa I promised I’d take the old one to the dump (I had already started taking it apart so I was sure a thrift store would reject it).  Well, last Saturday was the day.  We packed the sofa in the car and drove out the the city dump.  It was my first trip to our dump and I was surprised to see how clean it was.  Ours is just a large building you drive into and push your junk out of the back of your car, then drive away.  Inside our building there is a section where all metal is placed, presumably to be recycled.

          As my husband was dumping the sectional, my eye immediately went to the metal section.  I told him I’d be right back…yea, that didn’t go over well.  He could see the gleam of a new project in my eye.  I saw these great old drawers scattered on the ground.  I imagined them as bins in my pantry, or under a childs bed.  I knew there was something I could use them for.  I asked my husband to bring the van around so I could start loading up.  He rolled his eyes and kindly obliged.  As I began loading up with his help I saw it.  The chest that originally held the drawers was laying on it’s side on the ground.  Glee overcame me!  ”Contain yourself” I tried to tell myself, “what if someone else sees you this excited, they will come swipe it from you.”  Really?  Really.  No one there cared or wanted anything to do with this thing, even my own husband!  Ha ha.  Sometimes when I realize how awesome something is I think everyone else gets it too, but the funny thing is…they don’t.  Any who, we packed it up, paid the attendant a $5 fee and I spent the rest of the day cleaning that puppy up so it would be family room ready.

Here it is before any clean up.  Notice the bottom drawer is stuck inside the chest.  In old marker on the side someone had written Salt Lake City, UT.

Vintage Industrial Army Machinists Chest

The wood top had a lot of water stains but was still in tact.

Vintage Industrial Army Machinists Chest

There were dents here and there, a rock stuck under the sheet metal and a drawer stuck in the bottom.  All of which were fixed with a little hammering.

Vintage Industrial Army Machinists Chest

Per my husband’s suggestion, I wiped the entire thing down with auto degreaser.  This cleaned all of the metal and even the wood top.  This baby stunk like a machine shop, dusty spiderwebs, and rust.  After spraying it with my favorite glass spray Sprayaway I followed it up with thier Stainless Steel spray.  It really pollished up great and all of the cleaners minimized all of the bad odors.

Vintage Industrial Army Machinists Chest

I happened to have four casters that fit perfect.  This thing is really heavy, really really heavy.  If I ever plan on moving it around (which I always do) it was going to have to be on wheels.  I marked where the three holes needed to be drilled through the bottom of the chest.  I tapped a nail on each mark so the drill bit would have a place to start.  Then I drilled three holes on all four corners.  I found a scrap of wood at Home Depot in their trash can, cut it and stuck it under the bottom lip.  Then with wood screws, I secured the wheels to the wood and voila.

Vintage Industrial Army Machinists Chest

(If you are looking for casters, check out Harbor Freight.  They usually have all kinds and sizes.)

Once it was all cleaned up, I really started to be able to see all of the amazing details.  I even saw engraved on the side USA-DPG.  I figured this must have been military.  That’s when my mom figured DPG must stand for a local military site called Dugway Proving Ground.  It appears to be a machinist chest that was made by Armstrong Products in 1961.  I believe it was used overseas somewhere and shipped back to the US at some point.  And then, on that fateful day in Feb 2012, taken to the dump!  Yay for me!

Vintage Industrial Army Machinists Chest

Unfortunaly it was missing two drawers.  No worries, I left the bottom space empty and filled it with brown paper wrapped books and twine balls.

Vintage Industrial Army Machinists Chest

A few labels printed and place on each drawer probably won’t last long with my 2 year old around, but looked great for the photos.  Here you can see the side of the drawer.  That is what caught my eye laying on the floor at the dump.  Each drawer could be on casters and be amazing in and of themselves.

Vintage Industrial Army Machinists Chest

So the message here is…if someone else dumps it, don’t be afraid to find it!  Even with, or sometimes especially because of, imperfections.  This piece looks straight from a Restoration Hardware store but only cost me $5 and some elbow grease.

Do you have something “Dumped & Found”?  Link it up at my first linky party!

Party On Mondays Burlap & Denim

Linked Up: Home Stories A2Z, The Shabby Creek Cottage, Somewhat Simple, House of Hepworths, Beyond the Picket Fence, Rooster & the Hen, Kitchen Fun, Funky Junk


  • I use to pick at the dump when I was a teenager..that’s where we got all of our furniture back then. They won’t allow us to pick now…liability issues! Nice project…this industrial look is very popular right now.

    • The workers were really nice but a man with a peg leg warned us that we couldn’t walk around un-escorted or the same thing could happen to us! I was speechless.

  • Love it…we like to dumpster dive too. Our municipal drop offs prohibit it, but most of the attendants are pretty good about holding reusable items to the side in an effort to keep things out of the landfill.

    • Nice, green and friendly. It’s amazing what people take to the dump! Why not take it to a thrift shop for charity instead?

  • My dad was always going to the dump and returning with something. If He would see us now He would be so proud and would tell my Mom ,” See I am not picking up junk.”

  • Love this! You might convince me to hang out at the dump on Saturdays if you keep coming up with pieces like this. It’s FANTASTIC! Love all the little details.

  • wow-that looks great! love the empty space at the bottom, too.

  • Great Job, some one’s garbage is someone else’s treasures! I’m glad you found your treasure!

  • Super love!

  • Love this! We just posted our Kitchen Fun and Crafty Friday link party and would love for you to stop by and share this…http://kitchenfunwithmy3sons.blogspot.com/2012/03/kitchen-fun-and-crafty-friday-link.html

  • Now that is one fantastic find! What a beautiful project, but then again what isn’t of yours? This project would be perfect for our linky party featuring “Transformations” called Repurpose-Remodel-Reveal, I know our readers would love to see it too! (It started just this morning, March 2nd 2012 at 7:00 am MST and reoccures every 1st and 3rd Friday)

    -Whitney @ TheRoosterAndTheHen

  • Love this revamp! I’ve found some of my best projects beside dumpsters or the side of the road on garbage day…. Our local dump wont let u take things once they are in the pit… I have seen awesome finds in the metal recycling bins that are untouchable. It breaks my heart what sone people throw away. First Time to your site :0)

  • seriously, fabulous. i would love to have something like that for my son’s room. great job!

  • AWESOME! I love anything with lots of drawers or cubbies..this is perfection!

  • What a great find and a brilliant transformation! You’d pay thousands for a piece of furniture like that elsewhere. Fantastic job!

  • Great Job….it’s looks So Good!!! I have a very tall metal storage cabinet from Dallas, one ot those buildings where Kennedy was shot, anyway it’s tall 72″ and 22 and half ” wide, with 24 drawers that are 14 and half” deep. I though I’d put my old saved Souther Living, Martha’s, Garden magazines in them, but I wanted to know what you would do with it! Thanks! Deborah

  • ….by the way,yours looks Fab and it just the right heighth for a dresser!!! Yours definitely looks like it came from Restoration Hardware!!!

  • I have this SAME exact piece sitting in my garage, and it IS so heavy. I bought mine at a garage sale from a guy that was from the military (I also bought his big old chest that they used when traveling). The top of my chest isn’t as pretty as yours though. I was still trying to decide what to do with it when my husband claimed it as a tool chest. I’ll reclaim it from him one day.
    I love how you’ve styled it and added the casters. It looks beautiful!

    • Are you kidding me? That is AWESOME! I’d love to see a pic. What a nice wife to let your husband use it :) Mine is full of craft/blog projects for now.

  • AMAZING!!! it looks SO good!!
    You call “those people” Crazy People. I call them “People who have too much money!!”.
    Some of my favourite things in our home have come off the side of the road!
    I’ll be linking up, am excited to see all the other links, and looking forward to see what else you have in store for us! :)

  • Oh my…I LOVE this!!! Great save :) Laurel

  • Someone gave that away? Dear God I would buy that in a heartbeat!!

  • What a fabulous find, Amanda! I never find anything this wonderful just “dumped”, and can barely find stuff like this at thrift stores anymore. I’m trying to add more vintage industrial elements to my home, though, and would love to find one of these one day to go with my vintage Steelcase desk :)

    Just surfed in via your kitchen organization post linked at Funky Junk’s SMS linup. Love your blog :)

  • This is fabulous!! Would look great in your son’s Indiana Jones room, too (if you were willing to give it up!). ;)

    What an amazing find and your solution for the missing drawers was inspired. You are one crafty lady!

  • I seriously MISS our dump!!!!!!! We not only cleaned out the formerly abandoned house we live in now into the dump—I lost count at 12 overflowing pick up truck loads–and that was AFTER the former owners “cleaned it out”. We then proceeded for years to being home GOOD STUFF we could use—some of which we are STILL using 20+ years on.

    Now we have “Transfer Stations” where you PAY big time to take your household trash and re-cyclables to. For awhile they were CHARGING you “dump stickers” (they circulate around here like currency and I have used them to buy things at yard sales! Hey ya gotta have ‘em!) to TAKE AWAY used books that people had dropped off for re-cycle. That got shot down and some of the guys will let you have “stuff” and some do hold stuff off to the sides —my biggest LOSS was not being first on the scene for a very vintage gas stove–the kind with an oven on the side and those high legs that a kid can stand under???? Sigh.

    Curb stuff has become more scarce too–and thrift stores around our rural area rarely will take furniture or anything BUT clothes. Which I buy to resell so I do see whatever might be brought in and have snagged some things out of car trunks.

    WHERE is this stuff GOING to? I KNOW there are barns and garages and sheds FULL of this stuff–and the American Pickers stayed South of us!!!! Surely the yuppies who have bought “second homes” around here are not keeping all of the mouse infested stuff!

    Great blog—found you thru James and Jamie.

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  • Love your idea! I was wondering what the name of the blue paint color on your wall was? Love it for my sons room!

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