I promised there was potential in them, under the decades of grime, dirt dust, paint spatters, spider nests, and red electrical tape.
Ready to see it?
And this is what I used to transform them (may contain affiliate links):
As I worked on these cabinets I came to a great appreciation for the handiwork that went into each element – the hand-fitted joints; the thought that went into the choice of wood for the cabinets – plywood on the back, hardwood for the frames, pine for the drawer boxes, but beautifully grained maple for the fronts of the drawers; the routed handles; the precisely placed iron rings for padlocks. They may have been intended for utilitarian purposes, but the craftsman who made these had an elegant eye for form as well as function. Each drawer was designed to fit in its own slot perfectly (in the photo above they are out of order, but in the final pictures, I lined them up correctly). The drawers are numbered 173 through 180, and 183 through 190… and I fantasize about finding all the other missing numbers!
These were truly a labor of love, and I hope they go to someone who will adore them as much as I do!
UPDATE: see these vintage hardware store cabinets repurposed as a tv console HERE.