Why Does a Machinist Tool Chest Often Have a Mirror Mounted in It?

Have you been wondering the use of the mirror in your toolbox? While many machinists do not know the purpose of the mirrors, others might have used them in their own ways. A toolkit is for securely keeping your tools in an organized manner. Therefore, it might be a bit confusing to see a mirror in a tool chest.

Gerstner was the first company to install mirrors in their chest designs in the early 1900s. In those days, there was little attention toward workplace safety. Besides, most companies did not have washrooms with basins and mirrors. This made it difficult for workers to clean up at the end of their work. For this plausible reason, the company mounted mirrors inside their tool chest. Here are a few reasons why a machinist tool chest often has a mirror mounted in it.


Metalworking can be messy due to the nature of the job. Dirt particles such as metals and ash are produced during this tiring process. Furthermore, the debris is likely to stick on your hair, face, or clothes. With this mirror, you can easily clean up at the end of your day before going home. You can also use it during the entire day to check if you look okay.

Maybe you intend to approach your boss for a raise in salary, or you are looking for a promotion. To leave a good impression, you have to look your best, even in the rough workshop environment. It allows you to comb your hair and straighten your clothes.

Removing Debris from Eyes

We all know how metalwork can be dangerous. From the hot sparks, ultra-violet radiation to flying chips. Back then, safety goggles were not popular and thus were rarely used. Most metal workers used the machinist’s cap as the only defense against the flying bits. Therefore, the mirror mounted on the toolbox was used to remove debris like metal chips or dust from the eyes.

Although now safety goggles are a must safety tool for every machinist, there are instances when dust penetrates through it and gets into the eyes. This happens to many workers than you may think. You can use it to take out the pollutant before heading to the emergency room for a checkup in case you have serious injuries.

Looking in Tight Spaces

Are there tight areas in your workshop that you may not fit your head to see? Maybe you have drooped an item, and you cannot reach it. The mirror on the tool chest might help you to see or reach the tight corners. Besides, it might be useful when repairing machine parts in tiny spaces instead of using telescopic objects. Some people also use the mirror to read the back of an indicator. It further allows you to find the right position when drilling holes or bores.


Other Uses

Some machinists use mirrors to check if their supervisor is nearby to look busy at their work station.

Though it may seem hilarious, many workers have sworn by it. They describe it as a lifesaver or, in this case, career saver.  The installed mirror allows you to see your supervisor from far without having to turn your head. Also, basing on where you place the toolbox, you can see from different angles if your boss is coming behind you.

The Gerstner company also used the mirror mounting on the tool chest almost as a trademark. It distinguished them from their competition.

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Final Remarks

Even though most machinists may consider the mirror mountings on their toolboxes as decorative pieces, they were well thought for practical uses. Apart from cleaning up and brushing your hair after a long day, you can also use the mirror to remove bits from your eyes. More so, it allows you to see into the tight spaces.