I have observed these ammo boxes in swap meets, gun shows, antique shops and in the
WW1 Preservation Collection. I have examined the finishes, hardware and characteristics of
these original boxes to determine how they were painted so I could duplicate the original
finish. My conclusion is as follows:
1. The olive drab green paint was applied extremely thin, In most cases the pattern of the
wood grain is still visible on the original boxes.
2. Sometimes just the inside of the lid is painted sometime not, the bottom box is not painted
3. There is a 3 bullet stencil in black in the bottom of all boxes showing the direction that the
belt gets loaded into the box.
4. After years of handling the flatness of the olive drab paint has smoothed out and has a slight
sheen to the finish.
5. The boxes were painted fast with a brush, the paint was water thin this so it would easily
coat everything quickly. It would also dry quickly. These boxes were disposable to the Army
and there was no attempt to beautify the painted finish. It is not unusual to see paint
applied so thin that the wood still shows through. In fact this is quite common on many of
the boxes I have inspected.
This is a simple trick that I came up with that adds a convincing luster to flat OD green paint in
areas that are to be worn or handled a lot. Just find some Lemon Pledge furniture polish,
spray some on your hand and work in into the box like your polishing your car. Leave it stand
for about a minute and then buff it of with a clean dry rag. It will leave a softer finish that is
not quite flat anymore and looks like the items have been handled a lot.
What you see above is the box that is painted completely. I used my WW1 color oil based paint
that has been extremely watered down with xylene. Notice the painted surfaces have
absorbed the paint completely leaving a very flat finish still showing the wood grain.
this is perfect exactly what I want.
For repairs I filled all the drill holes with wood filler. then glued and clamped the worst of the
cracks. I sanded the whole box and lid with 100 grit sand paper and then re-blackened any of
the screws and hardware that got sanded and made to look silver.
WWI Preservation Collection
preserving the past...for the future
WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW
PAGE UPDATED FEB 15, 2017
This box and six others that I have restored will be perfect compliments to my
One of the boxes had the remains of the original leather handle. Using the old leather handle
as a pattern I was able to re-create a new handle.