Hamilton type cabinets

I am planning to re-finish a few Hamilton type cabinets I recently purchased. Would anyone know the original wood stain color? If anyone has re-finished these before…what stain did you use? The drawers do no have any dividers although there are notches around the perimeter to include some. Are these available anywhere or is it just a matter of cutting pieces to the correct dimensions? Thanks in advance for your replies!

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Are your type cabinets painted, or just dirty and old looking? If they are not painted, I would just restore the old finish instead of removing it.I would look for a golden oak wood finish restorer at a big box store like Home Depot, or a good hardware store.

Regarding putting the partitions back in many type cases, unless you are very, very patient, and have a LOT of time on your hands, trying this will make you swear off printing forever. The partition material is not available anywhere I know of, but making that material is the easy part, if you have a table saw. Remember, there are around 100 (+ or -) compartments in every case. If you are planning to make half cuts in the partition ends where they join up with each other, as the originals had, this will involve a lot of extra cutting and fitting. I tried to make one case having 49 compartments (7X7), and gave up halfway through.

I think you would be better off using as many of your open cases as you need for wood type, samples of printed jobs, etc., and getting cases with partitions in them, to use in your cabinets, for your actual type. The equipment dealer I get my cases from (Don Black in Toronto), has hundreds of type cases. Probably others on Briar Press have extra cases which they would sell you, as well.

It has been decades since I last totally refinished any type cabinets and cases. I do not recall ever “staining” the wood but simply used a clear matte urethane to finish them.

It may come as a surprise to many, but the Hamilton cabinets and cases are in almost all instances NOT made of oak, but are almost always made from ash.

I have 33 cabinets in the shop and gave up a LONG time ago ever trying to match all the cases to the cabinets simply because of the myriade of sources that all of the bits and pieces were collected from over the decades.

It may also surprise many to know that the later-model cases with the metal fronts can be made much more attractive by simply removing the metal plate and exposing the beautiful wood behind it. Simply unscrew the handle and gently pry the corner on one end off (using a flat-head screwdriver). Once you get it ‘started’ you can grab it with a vice-grip pliers and pull the whole metal strip off. You will have to lacquer the unfinished front. Screw the handle back on and you end up with a great looking case.


Thanks for your reply. Was sure they were oak. After cleaning will try your suggestion!