Preserving Packaging: How I Made These Vintage Hooks Functional While Restoring Their Charm

Vintage Hook DIY Project from This American House

From the moment I saw these vintage utility hooks – with their kitschy packaging still intact! – I knew that I would have to somehow upcycle the whole thing. I mean, you can’t find something that’s over 50 years old and still includes the packaging and not try to save it, right?

I don’t know when this “Hold All” All Purpose Utility Hanger was made. Judging by the drawings on the packaging, I’m assuming the early 1960’s. And I don’t know why the price is marked as $69. Surely this little metal track with sliding hooks didn’t cost $69 back in the ’60s! I only paid a couple bucks for it, an amount that I can’t imagine is much more than its value when it was new.

At any rate, I love that kitschy packaging. “Teach Junior how to hang things in place,” it says next to a drawing of a boy lining up his rather dapper wardrobe on the back of a door. “Use it throughout your home and garage,” it suggests alongside images of kitchen utensils and bathroom items. And don’t even get me started on the color palette. Brown and yellow – oh yes!

After sitting on the workshop table for months, I finally concocted a way to use the hooks and the packaging while still keeping the hooks’ functionality.

Upcycled Vintage Hooks

First and foremost, I cut a piece of wood that I found in the garage to be a few inches larger than the packaging. Then, I applied a dark stain to the piece of wood and allowed it to dry overnight.

Next, I gently removed the hooks from the packaging. You see those two holes ride above where it says ADJUSTABLE? That’s where the rivets connected the hooks to the cardboard packaging.

Contact Cement: A DIYer's Best Friend

Then, I used contact cement to glue the cardboard packaging to the prepared wood. While I waited for it to dry overnight, I place another piece of wood and a 5 gallon bucket of paint on top of it. This helped ensure that cardboard packaging dried flat.

Next, I applied four coats of shellac to the entire piece of wood and over the cardboard packaging, allowing it to dry between layers. When the final coat had tried, I attached the hooks to the wood, placing the screws where the rivets had held them to the packaging.

Lastly, I placed two eye hooks – evenly spaced – on the top part of the wood. Then, I used screws placed through the eyes to attach the finished piece to the wall in the basement bathroom.

The finished piece is a perfect addition to the newly refreshed basement bathroom.

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And, actually, the hooks are proving to be quite useful in this bathroom. Right now we’re using it for towels and washcloths, but when we have guests and use the basement bathroom for showering, it will also be a practical solution for hanging clothes.

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