A Dayton boy returns home and falls in love with a chest

I was born in 1963 in the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB) hospital. Wright-Patt, as the locals call it, is located on the edge of Dayton, Ohio and Fairborn, Ohio, and most of us born there consider ourselves Daytonians. That's actually a bit odd, seeing how Fairborn has such a cool name and history. More on that later.

Back to 1963. Within a few weeks of my birth my Dad got his new orders, so we were off to California. From there we live in LasVegas, Laredo Texas, Camp Springs Maryland (Washington DC) Montgomery Alabama, and then finally in 1975 Dad was stationed back at Wright-Patt. Dad had come quite a long way in those few short years, and after a stint as the head of the Air Force's simulator program, Dad became second in command of the F-16 program.

So here I am, a young man back in my home town for the first time in my conscious life, and all I want to do is take everything in. The history of Dayton is amazing! The Wright Brothers, Charles Kettering and his electric automobile starter, NCR, Mead, Delco, and more. According to the U.S. Patent Office, Dayton had more granted patents per capita than any other U.S. city in 1890 and ranked fifth in the nation as early as 1870.

My dad's dad, and several generations before them were cabinetmakers and woodworkers, so it was natural for me to be drawn to Dayton's woodworking tool industry. In fact, I worked for 10 years for Dayton-based Shopsmith Inc. and even have another Too-Hunter blog dedicated to them.

It was on a trip to the WPAFB hobby shop that I first came eye to eye with something I had never seen before. It was the most gorgeous chest I had even seen! Keep in mind that I was around 12 years old at the time, so I was very impressionable when it cam to chests. This one stood taller than me and was worn and dirty from what had to be thousands of hands that over the years had caressed her drawers. But she was still beautiful. Someone must have occasionally applied an oil or way to her exterior, because despite the layer of grime, she had a patina that reminded me of old railroad regulator clocks. (I also had and have a thing for old clocks)

As I investigated every nook and cranny, the man in the tool room noticed my interest and took a few minutes to educate me. "That's an H. Gerstner & Son's tool chest. Best on the planet and they're made right here in Dayton." That was it for me. I had to have one!

They're still being made in Dayton, but in order to keep up with demand, and to ward-off imported clone tool chests, Gerstner imports a line from the Far East under the name plate "Gerstner International".

This blog will link you to used and new original Gerstner Tool Chests which are for sale on eBay and elsewhere on the web. In addition we'll direst you to some of the finer imports from the Gerstner International line, as well as some of the imports that are passable for a DIY'er, just as long as you know what you're getting.

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Gerstner Tool Chests