How to Make a Wooden Chest

Updated February 21, 2017

Wooden chests are an ideal first-time woodworking project, offering a challenge but within manageable limits. You can make wooden chests in many different dimensions, from large blanket-box-type chests to firewood chests and small trinket chests and jewellery holders. Wooden chests are a value-added item; making your own is far cheaper than buying a pre-made chest, and you get to boast to your visitors that you made the chest yourself.

Assemble the planks into a box shape, forming the sides of the box. The shorter end pieces should abut the inside edge of the longer side pieces, making a corner. Check that the corners are at right angles, then glue between the joints and clamp with the corner clamps. Let dry.

Drill three evenly spaced wood screws into the glue joint. Drill in from the long side, through the joint, and into the edge of the shorter end pieces. Fill the screw holes with the wood plugs.

Lay the 20-by-11 inch slab over the box, making sure the sides line up and the slab is flush over the box. This is the base, but it will be attached from the top. Hammer a nail every three inches through the edges of the base into the sides of the chest, all the way around the perimeter. Invert the chest; the base is now on the bottom.

Sand and varnish the entire box, including the remaining 20-by-13 inch slab, which is the lid. Let dry.

Evenly space the decorative hinges on the back edge of the lid; screw in place. Position the lid over the top of the chest, the edge with the hinges flush with the back edge of the box, the other edge with a two inch lip. Screw the hinges into the back edge of the chest so the lid is attached and opens and closes.

Center the handles on the short ends of the chest and screw in place. Your homemade wooden chest is now complete.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 wood planks, 20 by 11 by ½ inches
  • 2 wood planks, 11 by 10 by ½ inches
  • Wood glue
  • Corner clamps
  • Wood screws
  • Drill
  • Wood plugs
  • 1 wood slab, 20 by 11 by 1 inches
  • Hammer
  • Nails, 2 inch
  • 1 wood slab, 20 by 13 by ½ inches
  • Sandpaper
  • Varnish
  • Paintbrush
  • 2 hinges, decorative
  • 2 chest handles, decorative
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About the Author

B.T. Alo is media director, chief writer and editor for a U.S.-based marketing and consulting firm. He holds a bachelor's degree in business and communications. Alo's interests include business, investments, electronics, personal finance, health, communication, popular trends and travel.