antique drafting box

by | Apr 21, 2021 | art supplies, art supplies, Artistic Endeavors | 12 comments

Before I get into today’s post, the winner of the Feels Like Home Giveaway is Joanne B. (Joanne81931)!  I loved reading through all of your comments about what feels like home to you.  Seriously, it was a pleasure and they all made me smile.  Lots of references to family, pets, coffee, books, and comfy chairs by the fire.  I will be having more giveaways as we get closer to the book launch date.

About the same time I found the Victorian Reeves watercolor box, I found this beautiful box of drafting/architect’s tools and I decided to spend my birthday money on both.  After learning lessons about buying things on impulse, I let both sit in my digital shopping cart for a couple of days.  Would I use these?  Would I love them more than something I already have?  The answer to both was yes and I had butterflies in my stomach when I opened each of the packages and I have loved them even more as I’ve spruced them up and started putting them to use.

The architect’s box has been exposed to some humidity, so the key and some of the tools were a little rusty.  The finish on the box was also a little worn in some places.

antique architect's box | miss mustard seed

While the tools were a little rusty and needed some cleaning, the set was complete and came with so many little extra goodies.  The box was also sound and functional.

antique architect's box | miss mustard seed

My favorite pieces were the bone ruling pens (it came with three of them) and a small ebony and brass parallel ruler.

antique architect's box | miss mustard seed

I cleaned each tool with steel wool to remove the rust and gave them a good wash and dried them thoroughly.

antique architect's box | miss mustard seed

I even scrubbed the key with steel wool and was able to remove most of the rust.  I polished the box with just a little bit of linseed oil.

antique architect's box | miss mustard seed

antique architect's box | miss mustard seed

The brass tools are just stunning.  I just love old things!  Not only were they made well, but they are just so beautiful.

antique architect's box | miss mustard seed

And I love that the little nubby pencil and lead are still in the set.  I wish I could just rest my hand over the tools, close my eyes, and see who used this set and what they created with it.  The set came from Australia, so who knows where this set has traveled.  Some things will just remain a mystery.

antique architect's box | miss mustard seed

I cleaned up all of the little bits and pieces along with the rim of the box (it was black with ink that would rub off on my hands.)  I still need to oil the rim, though, to rehydrate the wood.  I sorted out all of the little bits to see what I had.  I’ve never seen little clips like these and I’m not sure how to use them.  It looked like they would hang from something or perhaps hook into a surface (maybe cork) to home papers in place.  Any ideas?

antique architect's box | miss mustard seed

antique architect's box | miss mustard seed

I polished up the ebony parallel ruler with some steel wool and rubbed it down with Hemp Oil to bring out the shine of the wood and brass.  It’s a beautiful piece and I’ve already found it to be a quite handy tool when sketching.

antique victorian watercolor box | parallel ruler | miss mustard seed

antique architect's box | parallel ruler | miss mustard seed

I’ve also given the ruling pens a test run and they are such fun little pieces to sketch with.  They are similar to a dip pen, but the ink is held between two metal points instead of in a channel.  You can adjust how close or far apart the metal pieces are in order to change the width of the mark you’re making.  If you spread them out far enough, you’ll make two parallel lines, although the pen doesn’t hold ink very well when used like that.  I made a little pen and ink landscape sketch in sepia ink just to test it out.

antique architect's box | pen and ink | ruling pen | miss mustard seed

Aren’t these tools just so pretty?

antique architect's box | pen and ink | ruling pen | miss mustard seed

And I’ve been using the large compass as well…

antique architect's box | brass compass | miss mustard seed

Of course, it works great!  Over the weekend I worked on a little pet project and made a cyanometer (a color wheel that captures the blues of the sky) and it was the perfect tool to make two large circles.

DIY cyanometer | antique architect's box | miss mustard seed

I find I’ve been going into the box pretty regularly since I cleaned it all up and I enjoy it every time.

As I wrote about yesterday, our house should be full of favorites…right down to the little pencil nubs.

If you’re looking for a similar box, I found a beautiful set HERE for a good price.  It also has brass tools, an ebony parallel ruler, and a bone ruling pen in a beautiful wood box.

antique drafting box | miss mustard seed

THIS set is almost exactly like mine, but it doesn’t have all of the extras and it’s more expensive.

You can find more antique drafting boxes and tools HERE.


  1. Penny

    What a lovely find. Thank-you for sharing and your encouragement.
    Warm wishes,

  2. Alexandra

    The set cleaned up beautifully! I am not an artist by any means but looking at all those goodies after you cleaned everything, I so appreciate the beauty of vintage tools. Congratulations on your purchase.

  3. Netti

    Thanks, Marian – I really enjoyed viewing your ‘new’ vintage goodies!
    I have old clips just like yours and use them on my cork bulletin board. Though tiny, they hold items really well. Just look out as they are very sharp!

    • Sandi O'Connor

      Even though we can’t take our possessions with us when we leave our lives here, I’d like to think we can see the next owners enjoying and restoing loved things. Perhaps someone has smiled at your efforts! Happy day!

  4. Margaret

    This, like your watercolor box, just makes me salivate.
    Money well spent.

  5. Cynthia

    oh dear~ I think I must find one for myself ….. it’s never to late to start a new collection, is it?

  6. Rhonda

    ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!!!!!! The beauty just speaks to the soul doesn’t it? I love antique pieces for the same wonderment of whom loved it previously❤️

  7. Kim

    Why did you use linseed oil in the wood instead of hemp oil?

    • Marian Parsons

      I happened to have some out while I was painting, so I just rubbed it on. I’ll do that with brush handles and other wood things I have hanging around!

  8. Wendy

    I can’t believe how excited we get about the same things! :)I have a smaller leather box of antique drafting tools that I use often -the quality of the ruling pens is superior to anything you can buy new. I also use it for art but also for freehand drafting that I learned long ago. Loving these antique art tool posts-but you are making me want more Toys! Uh,tools! 😋

  9. Carrie Purkis

    Looks very similar to a set from my husband’s grandfather. I have loved going through his as well. Thanks for the inspo on using them….I was just treasuring them.

  10. Cheri Dietzman

    This has me wondering if my FIL had something like this when he worked as a draftsman. Hmmmm I’ll be checking into this!


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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