Vintage-style first aid box from a thrifted metal case

I’ve been obsessing over vintage first aid boxes lately, but since I haven’t been able to find one in the wild, I decided to make one instead.

Faux vintage first aid box hanging on bathroom wall

My faux vintage first aid box started out life as an old metal slide storage case. I found it at a thrift store for 50 cents.

Vintage metal slide case

Here’s what it looked like on the inside:

Vintage metal slide case

And here’s some of my inspiration for this project:

After poring over the inspiration pics, I decided to paint my first aid box white and put a small red cross on the front of it.

DIY vintage first aid box supplies

This was a super simple makeover project. I used my brand new Cricut to make a stencil for the cross, but if you don’t have a Cricut, you could easily hand paint a cross or just tape off the shape with painters tape.

The supplies I used for the makeover include:

  • Covered box
  • White spray paint
  • Cricut die cut machine
  • 5″x5″ square of vinyl
  • Transfer tape
  • Ruler, marker, pencil and eraser
  • Red chalk or craft paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Clear furniture wax and rag

Prepping and painting

Before I started the makeover, I wiped the slide storage case down, inside and out, to make sure it was clean.

Metal slide case makeover, after the case was painted with Rust-Oleum Chalked spray paint in linen white.

Then I sprayed on multiple coats of white chalk paint. I lost count of how many it took, but it was a lot. When it comes to spray paint, it’s better to do multiple thin coats than a few heavy ones. (The paint ALWAYS runs if you spray it on thick.)

Designing the graphic

In between coats of paint, I drew up a simple 4-inch-square cross in a graphic design program and saved the file as a PNG with a transparent background.

Then I imported the graphic into my Cricut program.

cross graphic in Cricut canvas

If I’d known what I was doing, I probably could have drawn the cross right in the Cricut program. Lol.

The Cricut (Explore Air 2) was a Christmas gift from my husband. My son helped me set it up back in January, but it’s been collecting dust since then.

I figured the cross would be a good beginning-beginner-level project, and (thankfully) it was.

Making the stencil

cutting vinyl for Cricut stencil

With my design ready to go, I cut out a small (roughly 5″x5″) square of vinyl and positioned it on the cutting mat. The mat has a sticky surface, so the vinyl clings to it. (So does cat hair. Sigh.)

setting Cricut to cut vinyl

Next, I moved the dial on my Cricut to the “vinyl” setting, put the cutting mat in place, and pressed the button to start the machine.

Cricut cutting the cross stencil

In just a few seconds, I had a perfectly cut cross shape.

Weeding out the cross with a craft knife

After weeding out the cross with a craft knife, my stencil was ready to go.

Transferring the stencil to the vintage first aid box

cutting transfer tape

Next I cut a square of transfer tape and taped it over top of my stencil.

positioning the cross stencil onto the lid of the vintage style first aid box

At this point, my stencil still had the paper backing on it, so I was able to slide it around without it sticking to the box. When I was happy with the position of the cross, I measured and marked a few lines to make sure it was straight. I used a red Sharpie to write on the transfer tape and a pencil to write on the box.

peeling the paper backing off of the stencil

With the measurements marked, I peeled off the paper backing on the stencil.

smoothing the stencil down onto the cover of the vintage inspired first aid box

Then I laid the sticky stencil down, making sure to align the red marks on the transfer tape to the pencil marks on the box. I smooshed out any air bubbles with my pan scraper.

erasing marks on the vintage inspired first aid box

With the stencil secured, I peeled the transfer tape off and erased my pencil marks.

Painting the vintage first aid box

filling in the cross stencil with red chalk paint

Next, I filled in my stencil with red chalk paint.

the red cross stencil after two coats of paint

In hindsight, I probably should have used a bigger piece of vinyl so there was a little more space around the cross. I had to be very careful when painting to make sure I didn’t get any red paint on the white box.

peeling the stencil up from the red cross

After giving the cross two coats of paint, I carefully peeled the stencil off.

waxing the vintage inspired first aid box with clear furniture wax and a lint-free rag

To protect the chalk paint, I wiped a coat of clear wax onto the box and buffed it after it dried.

the faux vintage first aid box

My faux vintage first aid box

The great thing about the cross graphic is that it can face in any direction, so I could have hung the box either vertically or horizontally.

vintage first aid box with red cross on it

I opted to hang it vertically.

DIY vintage style first aid box in farmhouse bathroom

I used to have a small painting above the towel bar in this bathroom, but I think the first aid box looks better.

inside the vintage inspired first aid box

Plus it provides a bit of storage.

Sadly, most of my actual first aid supplies (bandages, gauze, peroxide, etc.) are too big to fit on the small shelves (which used to serve as dividers for rows of slides). But my toothbrush and toothpaste fit perfectly.

DIY vintage first aid box in bathroom

What do you think? Personally, I’m very happy with the finished product — and even happier with how easy it was to make it. It used to take me forever to create stencils or transfer a design.

Check out the home address sign I created a few years ago. If I had a Cricut back then, I could have saved myself hours of work.


5 Replies to “Vintage-style first aid box from a thrifted metal case”

  1. I just couldn’t love this project and look more if I tried! What a beauty! That piece is the perfect size too!

    I’ve featured this amazing project in this weekend’s DIY Salvaged Junk Projects link party. Thanks for linking it up!

    1. Thanks, Marie! The red light fixture was a bit of a fluke. I went to Home Depot intending to buy a black barn light, but they were all out. So I bought the red one thinking I could paint it black. But after I got it home, the red grew on me. I ended keeping the red light and painting the closet door red to match. šŸ™‚

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