Introduction: Lingerie Chest From Reclaimed Wood

Picture of Lingerie Chest From Reclaimed Wood

This is a lingerie chest I made for my wife out of primarily scrap and junk wood. It includes an open shelf for a DVD player and a secret compartment under the top panel.

To be clear, a "lingerie chest" is just a tall and narrow dresser, and is not technically required to hold brassieres and skimpy negligees. Realistically, ours will probably hold diapers, wipes and extra twin-sized fitted sheets. Awesome, huh?

Aside from a little bit of 1/4" plywood, all of the wood for this came from my scrap pile, which included some old pine shelves, a stack of pine boards from some old shipping crates, and a few 2x4 studs. The shipping crate boards made for some interesting and unique drawers, which I'm quite fond of.

Hopefully there are some ideas here that will help you with your next project. Thanks for taking a look.

Step 1: Basic Frame

Picture of Basic Frame

I began by ripping a few 2x4 studs into 1 1/2" by 1 1/2" strips.

These were attached to large pine boards with pocket screws and glue to create the side, bottom, and shelf panels of the chest. This required a lot of clamping and tweaking to get everything flush and square.

A problem I had to deal was that these large pine boards were slightly warped. Not good, considering these were the primary structure for the entire piece. To eliminate this warp issue, the opposing side boards were set so that face-to-face, their warps looked like a mirror image, flaring away from each other at the top. If they had been set with their warps matching, the piece would have had an almost unfixable twist to it, rather than this flare which was easily removed once the bottom panel and top pieces were secured. (Hopefully that makes sense. I thought it was interesting enough to include.)

The completed side panels are 14" wide and 44" tall. The inside opening is 18".

Step 2: Hidden Top Compartment

Picture of Hidden Top Compartment

A top compartment was created by cutting a rabbet (a 90 degree recessed edge, like on the inside back of a picture frame) along the bottom inside edges of the top frame pieces.

A thin piece of plywood was glued and nailed into this recessed area, and is hidden from casual view of the completed chest.

Step 3: Top Panel and Shelf

Picture of Top Panel and Shelf

Two boards were glued and clamped together to create the top panel for the chest.

A shelf was glued and screwed in place, using four blocks of wood hold it in position while it was fastened.

Step 4: Front Rails

Picture of Front Rails

Front rails were added to the chest frame with glue and pocket screws. These were made from 1 1/2" by 1 1/2" pine strips.

I used pieces of scrap wood along with clamps to ensure the precise positioning of these rails.

Step 5: Recessed Areas for Back Panels

Picture of Recessed Areas for Back Panels

I used a router to cut a rabbet around the inside edges of the back of the frame to receive the back panels. The rounded corners were squared up with a chisel.

There are two back panels rather than one, due to poor planning on my part. I ended up not minding the little bit of extra work though, as I much prefer the look of the backside this way. Not that anyone will ever really see it. (Photos of finished backside in later step.)

Step 6: Hardwood Drawer Rails

Picture of Hardwood Drawer Rails

I used some hardwood scraps to make the drawer rails. These were set just a hair above the front rails to keep the drawers from marring the soft pine of the frame.

I didn't have quite enough hardwood to make the drawer rails wide enough to also act as supports for the drawer below them when extended, so I added some additional scrap strips on the bottom sides of the rails as seen in the photo. Also added thin pieces of hardwood to the bottom of the case to act as rails for the bottom drawer.

Step 7: Install Back Panels

Picture of Install Back Panels

The back panels were cut from thin plywood and glued and nailed in place at this time.

The vent holes for the panel behind the shelf were cut with a 1 3/8" forstner bit on a small drill press, and then sanded smooth by hand.

Step 8: Completed Chest Frame

Picture of Completed Chest Frame

The completed chest frame got a light sanding and various clean-up work done. I filled in a few spots with wood filler, but tried to keep most of the blemishes that gave piece it's character. 

Actually, more on that in the next step... 

Step 9: Whoa, Stop!

Picture of Whoa, Stop!

As I was getting ready to build the drawers for this, I got out my heat gun and a razor blade and started removing the "Fragile" stickers from the boards salvaged from the old shipping crates.

After regrettably removing and discarding the stickers from the underside of the top panel piece, I realized how neat the stickers were and promptly put the heat gun away!

Step 10: Drawer Assembly

Picture of Drawer Assembly

The drawers were made with simple butted joint construction, held together with glue and screws.

Prior to assembling the boxes, a dado was cut with a router along the bottom edges of all the drawer sides, fronts and backs to receive the bottom panel. Clamps were used to hold drawer pieces together correctly until they were securely fastened.

Step 11: Finishing

Picture of Finishing

I did a sort of backwards process to finish this piece, but I like the way it turned out. I didn't want to dramatically darken the colors of the various woods I used, but wanted to give it a proper protective coating and make the grain and various blemishes stand out. 

I began by giving the entire thing (inside and out) two coats of shellac with a light sanding after each coat with 220 grit sandpaper.

After this, I rubbed it with "Early American" Minwax stain, just like the directions indicate. It didn't stain the wood since it had already been shellacked, but it created some depth and highlighted the features of the wood as I had hoped.

After this I used paste wax to polish the drawer fronts and top panel of the chest.

Step 12: Wax Drawer Runners

Picture of Wax Drawer Runners

The drawer rails inside the chest received a coat of wax, as did the bottom runners on each drawer. This procedure can be repeated as needed over the years to keep the drawers sliding in and out smoothly.

Step 13: Mount Hardware and Top Panel

Picture of Mount Hardware and Top Panel

The drawer hardware was added, and the top panel was fastened in place with small hinges.

To mount drawer hardware, I eyeball the placement of a piece of masking tape over the center of the drawer where the hardware will go. I then measure and mark the horizontal center line of the drawer on the tape, and add a mark at the center of this line. I then measure and mark the hole locations for the hardware, use a small punch to start the holes, remove the tape and drill the holes.

To attach the top panel hinges, I used a punch to start the holes, predrilled the screw holes, and then fastened the screws.

Step 14: Completed Chest

Picture of Completed Chest

Here is the completed chest, prior to moving it into the house. The secret area at the top is great since you'd never suspect that the top panel lifts up. I like the way it turned out, and my wife does too. 

Thanks for taking a look!


ToolboxDivas (author)2015-02-03

I want to make a small kitchen cart. But I've been struggling with the design structure. This chest is solid. I love it! I am going to use the basic structure of it to aid me in making my kitchen cart. :) Thank you!

seamster (author)ToolboxDivas2015-02-03

Excellent! I'd love to see how yours turns out when you're done. I hope you'll come back here and share a photo or two!

ToolboxDivas (author)seamster2015-02-03

I will :)

gothycdesigns (author)2014-09-22

I like this. Good Work. I may have to tackle this as a winter project.

Eh Lie Us! (author)2014-03-14

Two things:

1) Wow, great build. Nicely done.

2) SavingthestickersandputtingasecretcompartmentisSOcool!

Andsetinn (author)2014-01-25

Very nice results, not even considering that you use recycled wood. I also like the remote compartment.

seamster (author)Andsetinn2014-01-25

Thank you very much!

jwoodall5 (author)2014-01-03

I know you recycled but I don't work with wood and was gonna ask my dad if he would make me a couple if I payed for supplies. How much do you estimate it would cost me to make from lumber store? Or maybe recommendations of where I could possibly get wooden shipping crates to recycle from around town or something?

Andsetinn (author)jwoodall52014-01-25

Ikea Ivar shelves should make very nice material to create similar chest from recycled wood. Check local Craigs list equivalent for price.

seamster (author)jwoodall52014-01-03

The shipping crates I got were kind of chance opportunity, and I don't know if I could get something like them again. However, you could check with any industrial type company that ships or receives product on pallets, as they may often use solid crates as well. I'm kind of a scrounge and am always on the lookout for free materials.

As far as cost for new materials, I bet you could complete something similar using 3/4" thick pine boards from Home Depot (or equivalent big box hardware store) for under $100.

SimplyJenn (author)2014-01-20

loved the other instructible as well. I haven't looked it up yet, but if you haven't already I'd love to see a tutorial on stripping paint or other from wood. I've not been so good at it in the past and I'd like to try it again. That would be great for the workshop contest. You do fabulous work.

seamster (author)SimplyJenn2014-01-20

Thanks! You are very kind.

I haven't done any tutorials on stripping paint, but there is a lot of info out there to help you out. It's a lot of work, but definitely worth it once you get down to bare stuff underneath.

SimplyJenn (author)2014-01-20

I love the other chest with the art on the front. Did you do that too? If so, please share.

seamster (author)SimplyJenn2014-01-20

Yes, I did the other chest too. I did an instructable on it: Revamp old dresser with road signs.

Take a look, let me know what you think!

sebastian22 (author)2014-01-10

Great work man! that looks awesome.

seamster (author)sebastian222014-01-10

Thank you!

pfred2 (author)2014-01-01

Why did you use pocket screws as opposed to traditional frame and panel construction?

seamster (author)pfred22014-01-05

This way maximized usage of the material I had available and created very little waste. Also, using frame and panel construction for this application would have led to a much weaker completed dresser case, in my opinion.

To be honest I'm not terribly fond of pocket screws, but they're growing on me. Thanks for the great question.

NickelRoc (author)2014-01-04

Looks awesome!!! Looking forward to replicating this cabinet! You did a great job!

robbadooz (author)2014-01-03

Nice! I like the fact that this can be done without special tools. Thanks.

londobali (author)2014-01-02

Neat job!
thanks for sharing..

clazman (author)2014-01-02

Very nice! I wish my projects using imperfect lumber were even half as nice as this!

Your method of mirroring the warps is an excellent example of "balancing" stresses.The reverse of this is akin to ripping a board and finding that the ripped boards are now warped.The internal stresses were in balance in the original board creating a original board. This even holds true in metals.

I have a suggestion for finishing wood. I use Watco Danish Oil and "wet sand it in with 220 grit. A very smooth (almost silky) finish ensues (the sandings fill the minute crevices).. Let it set a while and then wipe off the excess. If you wait too long it may not clean up very well. But adding just a little more oil will help, Sand with grain of course! I have had very good results finishing end grain this way. I warn that it will darken considerably, especially when using the darker tints. So adjust accordingly.
Finish with Watco wax.

HairyHorsefeathers (author)2014-01-02

Good job. This will be a must do for one of my "this summer" projects. I like the fact it is strong, sturdy, and well put together. Definitely nothing like the flimsy stuff now sold in stores.

BTrey (author)2014-01-01

Nice design, great work. Technically, however, a lingerie chest has to have seven drawers, one for each day of the week.

seamster (author)BTrey2014-01-02

Thank you. I've seen numerous commercial lingerie chests for sale with less than seven drawers. You could be correct though, and they were all just misnamed!

It's okay with me either way. Thank you for the comment!

probablepossible (author)BTrey2014-01-02

I didn't know that! Thanks for the information-- I love tidbits like this

dimtick (author)2014-01-02

Really Nice!!!
I actually think that the flip top will work much better as a secret compartment for jewelry/valuables. put a couple pictures on the top and the compartment is completely hidden.
side note, it would dress thing up if you route the tv wiring inside the wall. simply drill a 1 1/2" hole behind the tv and another behind the cabinet and route the wiring there. you can put a grommet on the holes to dress them up.

nice job!

seamster (author)dimtick2014-01-02

That's the plan with the flip top... we'll put some photos on top nobody will ever know there's anything underneath. That's a good idea for the cords. Thank you for the nice comments!

kderevan (author)2014-01-02

Very nice! Did you also make the cool chest of drawers just visible in the one photo?

seamster (author)kderevan2014-01-02

Thank you! That other dresser has it's own instructable right here. Take a look, let me know what you think.

Questor (author)2014-01-02

Because I'm always putting stuff on top of my chest o'drawers,
I'm going to make the top secret compartment a drawer off to one side or t'other.
that way I can get to it with out having to clear off the top. maybe instal one of them 'magnetic locks'.

makendo (author)2014-01-02

Really great, simple design & clever build. Nice.

hammer9876 (author)2014-01-02

There are little magnetic catches designed to keep children out of cupboards. I would get one for that hidden compartment. After all, you want to keep the children away from the diaper pins, right? Wait. Does anyone even use diaper pins anymore?

Great instructable. You make it look easy.

NitroRustlerDriver (author)2014-01-02

The hidden compartment could make a good place to keep valuables. Just put something heavy on the top of the cabinet that is difficult to move and no one would ever find the compartment.

lolson1 (author)2014-01-02

Will make this...great design. I think rather than leaving the open but covered shelf for phones whatever, I will make it into a 'secret' compartment. I think that will make a handy and accessible hidey space. =)

xpingox (author)2014-01-02

congratulations, it's a awesone work!

barrem01 (author)2014-01-02

I wonder how often that flip up top will be put to use. In my house every horizontal surface typically has SOMETHING on it. Either intentional decorative items, or stuff that needs a place to be until it can be put where it belongs.

chabias (author)2014-01-02

Beautiful piece of furniture. Great work!

The Rambler (author)2014-01-02

Beautiful work.

cwynn5 (author)2014-01-01

Awesome job and great detail. I think my wife would like this as well. Time to work!

gthomas18 (author)2014-01-01

I love the design with secret compartment on top.

mgarza4 (author)2013-12-31

I love the hidden drawer for controllers. U do great work!

seamster (author)mgarza42013-12-31

Thank you!

EngrDanny (author)2013-12-31

Nice job

jmwells (author)2013-12-31

Well done. Did enter this in the hidden compartment contest?

seamster (author)jmwells2013-12-31

Thank you. I haven't entered this in any contests yet, but I may at some point.

getcarter007 (author)2013-12-31

Very nice!

JasonE (author)2013-12-31

Good work and nice 'ible!

gcanders (author)2013-12-31

Very nice.

Dustin Rogers (author)2013-12-31

Nice work!!!

About This Instructable




Bio: I got an old sewing machine when I was just a kid, and I've been hooked on making stuff ever since. My name is ... More »
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