Homemade Chest




Introduction: Homemade Chest

About: Amature woodworker, good gamer, nice guy :)

Welcome to my first instructable. Having some free time and a desire to start making things from wood I decided to make a chest. I wanted the ability to lock this chest with a padlock and didn't want to spend more than £40. I also wanted this box to fit underneath my bed, but still have a good capacity to put things in.

As a small disclaimer I haven't made much out of wood before. This will probably become more apparent as the box progresses. Constructive comments are welcome, bare in mind I don't have access to many power tools.

Step 1: Design

Using Sketchup (a free CAD tool downloadable here http://www.sketchup.com/) I designed my box, changing ideas until I was happy with it. I kept the dimensions to 45x35x25 which made it big enough for me.

The initial design here shows lines I want to have marked into the wood on the light grey areas. I also chose the colours at this point after changing the design a few times.  

Step 2: Materials and Tools List

Materials I used

MDF sheet 1220mm*660mm*12mm @£13.51

Cornering wood 2500mm @£6.98

2 hinges @£4.48

100 screws 7.5mm @£4.68  (I later changed my idea to use dowel instead, rendering most of these useless)

25 screws 2.5mm @£3.58 (used to attach the base to the sides. I wanted to use plenty of screws here to ensure the bottom wouldn't fall off when moving)

62 dowel @£? most I already had from a previous project (instructable pending :D)

A padlock I had from this years lockerhouse at download festival. (side note: definitely recommend going if your into rock/heavy metal/other)

A latch for the padlock £2

Paint. originally £2 each for 3 tester pots £6 total. However during painting I realised I needed more of the medium Gray since I did the inside this colour too. I forked out £20 for a big 750ml knowing I could use it on future projects so I didn't add this to the total.

Woodglue which I already had.

Tools required for build*

Screwdrivers (Phillips and flathead)
Paint brush (duh)
Dremel/drill Both could be used here.

Since I already had the tools I didn't include them in the total which came to £41.23 (currently $67.39 at time of writing)

*Please note that while I use my tools with care and attention, you may not. I am not liable for anything you do while following this instructable. Or anything else you do while not following this instructable :) Use care when handling powertools.

Step 3: Measuring

Measure once, cut twice. Measure twice, cut once. A saying I heard after making a shelving unit. I spent close to 2 hours measuring and marking my MDF. I knew I wouldn't need more than one sheet but there isn't much scrap left. I had to cut the sides out in pieces to fit them onto the one sheet. They are labelled to keep track and I added the labels onto my sketchup design. Overall i'm pleased with my work. Tomorrow I will cut this and then see if I need to measure three times.

I apologise for the picture quality here, the pencil marks aren't the easiest to photograph.

Step 4: Cutting the MDF

Firstly I clamped my MDF down using scrap wood to avoid damaging it. I then tested the guide laser on the jigsaw and found it accurate enough to be able to follow it. Next taking the jigsaw I proceeded to cut off the top, bottom and the two longest sides. To fit the remaining two smallest sides onto the wood I cut them into there individual rectangles which I would piece together later. This was to save on having to buy more wood and turned out ok, but not as good as I expected. More of that on the next page.

Step 5: Assembly Part 1

This did turn out to be a bit of a hassle and looking back i should of probably just got another piece of MDF and use any spare/scrap wood for future projects. I learnt here that screwing into MDF without creating a prior hole with a drill/dremel will break the wood. (learn something new everyday)

Using a 5mm drill for the dowel holes and the dremel drill bit for the screw holes I proceeded to mark and drill all the holes I needed to put these together. This is shown better in the picture notes. Make sure to clamp the wood down to make drilling easier and hold the drill at right angle to the wood.

Step 6: Assembly Part 2

Marking out exact drill holes and depths would have made this more exact which is something I will do in the future. However here I put the pieces together and drilled in. I was lucky not to make mistakes. A flat surface to work on did aid me here. Id recommend doing this step outdoors or in a workshop. Doing this in my bedroom was a mistake and took about 30 to wipe dust off everything and hoover. I just wanted to be warm :/

While putting the sides together I used wood filler to fill the cracks between the wood on the small side panels. When dry this was sanded. Unfortunately I didn't take pictures of this. Too engaged in my work :)

Step 7: Assembly Part 3

Hinges and the latch. This was simple to do. Measure a distance from the edge and mark the location of one hinge. Mark the location of the other hinge in the same way, making sure the distances from the hinge to the respective edges are the same. do this on both the box itself and the lid. Then dremel holes and screw hinges on. You need hinges that can be placed flat onto a flat surface.

Mark the middle of the front of the box, place the latch receiver over it and mark the drill holes. Do the same for the lid and place the latch arm over it marking the drill holes.

The screws for both hinges and latch did go all the way through my wood. Using a dremel you will need to sand the screws down on the inside.

Step 8: Additional Unplanned Assembly

As a result of not being exact with my screwing many of the screws on the front, sides and top were not in line with each other and this looked ugly. So I got some boarder and used a mitre saw to cut exact lengths out. I was too absorbed on this day to take photos. So I will list some things ive learned from this experience.

1) Measure before buying. I needed 2 pieces of boarder which I didn't have. I used woodfiller and build half a side panel with it. Worked surprisingly well.

2) On the hinge line the boarder needed to be cut, so the box could open. Realise this while cutting and not when gluing. :)

3) The top corners will need filling as the boarder leaves a small 9mm square gap where the top side pieces meets the ascending side pieces. I wish I took a photo to explain this better.

Step 9: Engraving the Sides (Optional)

Using a knife and a metal ruler I scored into the wood on the lines I drew back in planning. This was to give the box a more 3D look. Additionally this made it harder to paint as I didn't have many small brushes.

This step is very repetitive as there is many lines on all sides and top to engrave. The more creative person could make something better here and its a great place to change something to make the box feel like your own. After scoring with the knife I found using a triangular file quicker to use.

Step 10: Sanding and Paint Prep

Sanding sanding sanding. A power sander would make this quicker, but I don't own one; so sandpaper and a block of wood had to do.

First sand down whole box with rough sandpaper, then repeat with fine sandpaper. Makes the box ready to paint.

Step 11: Paint

Using masking tape I marked off the dark grey and painted the boarder black and the middle of the sides light blue/grey. 2 coats to fully cover allowing the paint to dry between coats.

Then mark off the painted sides and paint the rest of the wood. I used dark grey. Again I didn't take too many pictures but there all similar and self explanatory.

Step 12: Finished Product

And we're done. Sadly the paint job between the engravings didn't look as well as i'd hoped. Maybe one day i'll repaint it but for now i'm happy to have it in use. Very happy with it overall. Took around 20ish hours to make over the course of several months when i could find time.

Im glad to have learnt many things through trial and error here and still have a good finished product.

Thanks for reading. Comments welcome. If you make your own links to them in the comment would be appreciated.

The third picture is the preview of my next instructable.

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    9 years ago on Step 12

    Why are you putting a padlock on your chest? The reason I ask is because if you are seriously concerned about security then having external hinges and a padlock aren't very secure.It would do fine for keeping children out but not much more.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Good job, good instructable. You're on your way. Re: power tools, YET. That's the response. I don't have it YET, cuz you will. Save up and buy quality that will last. Clamp down a straight edge cutting guide, in fact, find a metal shop that will sell you 1/8" aluminum X ~ 3" (or 4") and over 4 ft. It helps to have 2-3" overhang.

    My tip though, when making lidded boxes, build the 'cube' first, finished size (plus a blade width) and then cut the lid. It insures that the box and lid match, square or not. Mark out your hinges and latches first, so it's easy to see when you assemble. Have fun!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Funny thing is I was just thinking about making a footlocker.
    My thoughts,
    MDF is fine for how you used it. MDF outgasses, not so healthy.
    Plywood is more expensive, better structurally and better if it goes outside, more resistant to moisture.
    A lot of good tips from the other posters here also
    Good job.

    uncle frogy
    uncle frogy

    9 years ago on Introduction

    I don't like screws in end grain or man-made materials very much so unless I need the total space inside I have found that strength can be added to the corners by gluing triangle strips on the into the corners which I make the table saw. they could be easily be substituted with a suitable sized cove molding or even square stock.
    that way the outside is clean with a good fast epoxy holds the whole joint sides and blocks quickly and fills gaps so the edges don't have to be so perfect.
    keep thinking things up there is more than one way to do most things. good looking functionality.
    uncle frogy


    9 years ago on Step 10

    When sanding down save some of the dust, mix with wood glue and use as filler


    9 years ago on Step 7

    instead of using screws you could have used nuts and bolts. when the screws are to long instead of cutting the put a square offcut on the inside glued on and the screw point will be protected.
    when fitting hasp and clasp (latch) mount the other way up so when locked the screws are covered, if you use bolts cut the excess off and burr the end over so cannot be undone from outside
    keep up the good work and you will learn fast


    9 years ago on Introduction

    This looks great!

    P.S. Can't wait to see the whiskey shelf. :D


    9 years ago



    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Was very tempted to make a minecraft box; but the dimensions wouldnt of been right to fit under my bed, and scaling it down would have made it too small.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    The padlock is fully functional and stops anyone without a screwdriver :P.