Introduction: Reclaimed Wood Storage Chest

About: DIY Montreal is all about woodworking & DIY projects. I post how-to videos on my YouTube channel, as well as step-by-step tutorials on my website Builds include mainly woodshop project…

I’ve had a pile of reclaimed wood sitting up on my lumber rack for about a year now waiting for that perfect project. I wanted to build something with this old tongue and groove barn wood that would keep with the spirit, so I designed this antique style wooden storage chest.

Step 1: Lumber Prep & Cut List

Unfortunately the tongues and grooves were mostly broken off during the demo, but the wood was otherwise in good shape. The first step (and the least fun) was to rough cut the lumber and get rid of the tongue and groove. I used my table saw to take a little off each side of the board and rip down the boards to 3 inches wide.

I then used my miter saw to cut down all the boards to their final lengths using the cuts list below. The overall dimensions of the storage trunk is 39” x 21” x 16”.

Reclaimed 3/4 by 3 inch boards

  • 10 @ 37 ½” - front & back walls
  • 10 @ 18” - side walls
  • 8 @ 15” - corners
  • 6 @ 36” - base
  • 7 @ 39” - lid
  • 2 @ 17 ½” - lid supports


  • 2 @ 18”
  • 2 @ 33”
  • 1 @ 15”

Step 2: Build the Base

I started by assembling the base made up of 2x2s. Lay out the pieces and drill pilots holes into the ends then assemble with 2-½ screws. Make sure to use a speed square to get your corners square.

It’s also a good idea to pre-drill pilot holes on the inside of the base frame so it will be easier to attach later on.

Step 3: Pre-assemble the Side Panels

I found it easier to first assemble each of the sides individually. I cut out a spacer strip for this. The spacer should be the same as the thickness of your reclaimed wood.

I laid out the 5 pieces for the front wall flat on my workbench, then butted my spacer up to the edge. I then placed a 15 inch corner piece on top, flush with the outside edge, and used some brad nails to attach it to the panels. Repeat for the other side, and the 3 remaining walls.

Step 4: Assemble the Trunk

With the 4 individual walls assembled, building the trunk is a matter of standing them up and making a box. To make things easier, I first put in a few brad nails from the outside, then screwed the base to the wall from the inside. This was a lot easier with my mini palm driver.

With the base secured into place, simply lay the floor boards into place and attach the boards to the base using your brad nailer.

You could use pocket hole screws to join the walls, or add a piece of wood on the inside corners to fasten them together, but I chose to use metal corner braces. I first spray painted them black, then screwed them in from the inside.

Step 5: Make the Lid

I made pocket holes using my Kreg jig and used pocket screws to assemble the lid.

I hid the pocket screws by adding cross supports on top. I attached the supports with brad nails, as they were more decorative than anything else.

Step 6: Mount the Hardware

I marked out where I wanted the hinges, and used a chisel to countersink them so they would sit flush. I learned from this experience that my chiseling skills could use some practice.

For the handles, I cut up 2 eight inch strips from an old belt and screwed them onto each side of the chest.

I also installed a latch to the lid to accommodate a padlock, but really I just liked the look.

Step 7: Finishing Touches

I wanted a way to hold the lid when open, so I simply screwed a piece of rope both to the inside of the lid and the side of the chest.

I finished off by rounding all the edges with my orbital sander, and touching up all the screws with some black paint.

Be sure to check out the video tutorial if you haven't already done so. If you like what you see, subscribe to my YouTube channel to get notified when I post new builds.

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