Introduction: Lingerie Chest From Reclaimed Wood

About: Hi, I'm Sam and I like to make things - check out some of my projects below. I worked for this site from 2014 - 2023 and have nothing but love for the Instructables community. Keep making great stuff!

This is a lingerie chest I made 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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!
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