Introduction: A Wooden Box

About: On my way to being a dumpwood craftsman.

My daughter's toys had out-grown their Rubbermaid container. My wife wanted a toy box that could be sat upon. I had just salvaged a bunk bed that someone left at the dump. With that, let's start the journey:

I checked instructables and ran an Internet image search for plans and ideas. I decided to use ProRock's "Pallet Trunk"( as the base design for the box.

As for the lid, it looks like the one from NutandBolt's "Simple Storage Box" (, which I must have seen during my browsing and subconsciously committed to memory for future inspiration.

I tried to remember to take pictures as I went, but I didn't do a great job. If you get stuck, check out the instructables I just mentioned and they should help you out.

Step 1: Preparation


As I stated previously, I had salvaged a bunkbed. Actually, I only took the frames that the matresses lay on. Breaking these down left me with 4 long pieces of 1"x4", a number of shorter 1"x4"s (maybe 16?), and a few handfuls of bent, broken, and otherwise useless staples. I figure that the average instructibles viewer knows what a 1"x4" looks like, so no pictures.

A piece of plywood that will fit as a floor for the box is also a good idea, but I didn't think of it 'til I got to that point.

I have a coffee can full of reclaimed screws. From it, I was actually able to pull ~90 1-1/2" wood screws. If a magic coffee can of wood fasteners is not available, I would suggest buying enough screws. I used a few longer screws where they wouldn't come through the wood and I did switch to nails (from my other magic coffee can) when I ran out of the right sized screws.

Hinges (if you want a hinged lid).

Your choice, of course, but I used a water-based polyurethane (left over from a previous project.

(Not all are necessary, but I used all of them)
measuring tape and pencil
table saw with cross-cut sled
2 cordless drills (one for drilling holes and the other for driving screws)
a Picquic multi-bit screwdriver (one of my most favourite tools ever)
drill bit (slightly smaller diameter than the screws)
coarse-grit sandpaper (80 or 100 grit) with block
fine sand paper (I actually tried out a sanding sponge, 300-grit)
block plane
carving knife
radio (for talk or tunes while working)

Step 2: The Sides

I first made two rectangular "Hoops":

Using my table saw, I ripped the 4 long pieces in half and cut them into 4 30" lengths and 4 22" lengths. Using two of each length, I arranged them into two rectangles (that I call hoops because it's like making a rectangular barrel). I used reclaimed screws to fasten the hoops.

Then I assembled the walls:

Using my cross-cut sled on the table saw, I cut a bunch of 1"x4" to my desired length (16" in this case). I ended up needing 28 of these: 9 for both front and back and 5 for each side.
Laying one long side of each hoop on my work-space (the floor), I used the remainder of my reclaimed screws to fasten the top and bottom ends of my wall pieces to the inside of the hoops. I wanted as few fasteners showing as possible so I screwed them in from the inside of the box. Here's where two drills comes in handy: one to pre-drill the holes to prevent splitting (careful not to go all the way through) and the other to drive the screws.

As you can see, I ended up ripping a couple of sections to make them fit and still look decent. I also had to do the same for the box ends.

I should say now that I smoothed all pieces before assembly. I rounded exposed edges with the block plane. Used a chisel and a carving knife to cut out and smooth splinter-points (usually ragged staple holes) where I felt small fingers stood a good chance of getting slivers if they happened to brush the area. Then sanded, first with a coarse grit (I had 100 grit available to me) then finer grits (220 then 300) for that smooth and silky feel.

Step 3: The Bottom

I didn't care for the way ProRock did the bottom of his trunk, it seemed like it wouldn't really hold up to much lifting of the trunk with stuff still in it after a while. So I decided to fit the floor to the inside of the box and support it from underneath using 1"x1" pieces (from the bits I ripped earlier).

I actually had not planned what to use for the bottom, but I found a bit of plywood (might have been 1/4" thick) that only needed a shave at one end to perfectly fit my box. Lucky!

I screwed the floor supports into the sides. Then I slipped the plywood floor down inside and put a few nails in to hold it in place. A couple of nails stuck out the bottom, so I bent them over and filed the exposed side a bit so as not to scratch any floors.

Step 4: The Lid

I still had enough 1"x4" to make a lid, which consisted of planks cut to length and fastened to two 1"x1"-ish straps to hold them together (see photo). I used nails, bending them in on the underside of the lid. Not sure if this is a very good lid design, but it will do for now.

I bought hinges (the only thing purchased specifically for this project) and put them on the back of the box, connecting the lid. I debated trying my hand at making my own hinges, but I eventually backed out (wisely, I think). I outlined them on the box and took them off again. I then cut recesses to fit the hinges using a chisel. Reattached hinges and the box was ready for finishing.

OK, not quite. I wanted a handle for the lid that would not be uncomfortable while sitting on it. I decided to drill a couple of holes in the front plank and then, after applying finish, push a piece of rope through.

Step 5: Finishing

As mentioned, I used a water-based polyurethane to finish the project. I only treated the outside/visible parts of the box (so not the interior or the bottom). You should, of course, do what you feel is fit and follow the directions for your particular finishing choice.

For application and drying, I set the box on top of a couple of pyrex-type cassarole dishes I had salvaged so that the finish wouldn't stick to it . Once dry, I pushed the rope through the holes and tied the ends underneath the lid. My wife thinks the rope is ugly and wants me to use something else. I keep my eye open for a nicer piece of rope.

Behold the unique beauty of reclaimed lumber!