Introduction: Rustic Pallet Wood Trunk With Hidden Compartment

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This rustic trunk was made out of some 1x4 pallet lumber that I picked up locally for 25 cents a board. The whole box except the top are 3/4" in thickness, with the top being 7/8" in thickness. I wanted to keep the feel of this trunk rustic and old so I used fine finish cut nails for the joinery. One cool feature of this trunk is the false bottom hidden compartment and the way that you access it. You use a knot hole as a way to move the false bottom out of the way to access the hidden compartment.

Step 1: Lumber Needed for the Project

This is the 1x4 pallet lumber I used to build the trunk. I was able to get these for a quarter a board.

Step 2: Make the Panels

With the side panels cut to size, I edge joint each side and glue them up to make the panels. I do the same with the rest of the panels which include the front, back, sides, bottom, top, and false bottom.

Step 3: Add Some Rustic Flair to the Nails

For the joinery of the panels, I used some fine finish cut nails from BT&C. I dip each nail in vinegar to add some "patina" to them. This is what the nail looked like after 24 hours.

Step 4: Make the Hardware Rustic

I sanded the painted corner brackets and the hinges to remove the paint then dipped them in the vinegar as well to add a little surface rust. I sprayed the corner brackets and the hinges with a coat of polyurethane to lock the rust in and to prevent it from rubbing off.

Step 5: Cut the Bottom Groove With the Router

I wanted the bottom panel to be inset instead of having the trunk sit on the bottom so I cut a 3/4" groove 3/8" deep with a trim router using a 3/4" straight bit. Since the router left rounded corners, I used a chisel to square them up.

Step 6: Sand All the Things!

Before putting the box together, lets sand the surfaces while we have access to them. I sand the surface with 180 grit. The purpose of sanding is to remove any lose dirt or grime but leave the rustic appearance on the surface.

Step 7: Nail the Sides Together

Using some clamps to hold the box together, I nailed in the cut nails. I also flipped the trunk over and nailed the bottom in. It's important to note that you should orient the nails to go with the grain as seen in the picture above. Turning the nail sideways may cause the wood to split.

Step 8: Hidden Compartment!

These are the 8 boards I used to prop the false bottom up. I nailed them to the side panels using a brad nailer. I got lucky and found a knot hole in the false bottom, allowing me to use it as a "handle" to access the hidden compartment. You want to make sure the panel fits loosely so it wont get stuck during seasonal movement.

Step 9: Brush on Finish

I finished the piece with a spar urethane from Minwax. I applied the urethane with a brush. I applied a total of 2 thick coats.

Step 10: Leather Handles

I made some leather straps for the trunk lifting handles out of some 8oz veg tanned leather. I dyed the leather handles with an oil based dye from Fiebings. To attach the handles to the trunk, I used a couple of screws on each end of the handle.

Thanks for checking my trunk out, I hope you enjoyed the instructable! If you enjoyed this project, check out my YouTube channel where I post all kinds of DIY woodworking/leather working videos!

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