Cedar Treasure Chest




This is a simple project that can be completed in an afternoon.  Tools that I used are as follows ( not all are necessary, use what you have available!):
- chisels and mallet
- drill press
- table saw
- sand paper
- wood glue and tack nails
- router ( I did not have one but this tool is a great asset)
- treasure and lots of it to fill your chest
- trust worthy treasure guardian

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Step 1: Ripping the Lid and Marking the Template

To start this project off, I first ripped a 1/2" inch off my 4x4 piece of cedar using the table saw.  This will act as my lid.  I also marked a square in the center of my soon to be box where I will begin hollowing.  I measured 1 inch in from  the ends and a 1/2 inch in on the sides to give me a nice sized template for where the box will be drilled out.

Step 2: Hollowing the Box Out

Next we are going to use the drill press and a 1 1/2"  forsner bit to hollow out the inside of the block.  Make sure you set the drill press to drill to a consistent depth, I chose 1 inch depth from the bottom.  Try doing all 4 corners first and then work your way into the middle of the block.

Step 3: Chiseling Out the Block

Now we must chisel out the inside of the box and make the walls of the box flush.  The sharper your chisels, the better the finished product.  The ends of the box will be the most difficult as you will be chiseling against the grain.  Work slowly and you shall have success!  Try and make the bottom of the box flush as well so when you place the bottom plate in the next step, it sits flush on the bottom.

If you have a router, it would be handy at this point as you could router along the inside edges of the hollowed block to give a nice flush finish.

Step 4: Inserting the Bottom and Side Walls

Now you will want to rip a couple of 1/8th of an inch slats that will be cut to size to fit into the bottom and and sides of the box.  This will hide your chisel work and drill press marks.  Cut your bottom piece first and place into the box and then cut and place the sides.  Make sure to leave an 1/8th of an inch gap to the top of the box as this is where the lid will fit snugly in. 

Use wood glue and clamps to hold the side pieces in place until they dry.  You can get creative at this point and build spacers if you prefer.  I need all the room possible for my treasure so I decided not to insert spacers.

Step 5: Making the Lid Fit and Sanding

Finally we will glue and tack a piece of 1/8th inch slab onto the bottom of the lid so that it fits snugly into the top of the box.  Make sure to measure the opening precisely and the cut out this piece exactly.  I used sand paper to round the edges so that the lid fits well into the box.  I then used wood glue and small tack nails to hold it in place, the nails add additional strength to the lid.

Finally I sanded the box down starting first with a rough sand paper and moving down the line to a fine sand paper.  You can stain the box if you prefer, I didn't as I enjoy the smell of the cedar!

Step 6: Filling the Box With Treasure and Finding a Gardian

Of course with every treasure box you'll need treasure to fill it.  I filled mine with millions in Canadian currency. 

With so much value at stake I needed to find a treasure keeper worthy of protecting my loot.  She does a fine job when she's not sleeping or outside chasing elk!

Lastly, I didn't mention this earlier but I built a small hidden compartment in the box where my girlfriend inserted a secret note.  When drilling out the bottom, I drill an 1/8th of an inch lower in one corner and placed the note in this depression.  When I inserted the bottom plate, this covered the secret compartment which has now become part of the box.  Someday many thousands of years from now, some space archeologist will discover this box and the secret it contains and the world will be saved.... maybe.

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    13 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Thank You for sharing this as it'll make a great gift


    3 years ago

    It's a great project. It's fun to put you own twist on it. I drilled the holes for the dowels with a 1/2 inch forestner bit before I cut the lid off...no chance for holes not to line up. I did not line the bottom...gave it a sanding and enjoy the rustic look. The cedar smell is incredible. Thank you for the inspiration. Bill

    1 reply
    spark master

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Nice box! Actually doable with a miter box and a plain old saw! The drill press and fostner bits are better then by hand, but it could be done if you have no table saw. I like to carve so I would make a panel of say bass wood and place on top so I could carve a simple pickie-ture in it

    I hope you signed and dated the wooden box under the slats as well!

    thanks fer the simple project.



    9 years ago on Introduction

    Great shtukatulka. If the lid to the carved patterns in general will be a class. Unfortunately I do not know English, so took advantage of the electronic translator


    If you don't have a drill press, a router with just a couple of bits will do wonders. Just because a router is cheaper and smaller than a "Press".
    Straight bit to hollow it out, then a "bull nose" or round over to smooth the edges.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I love the idea of hollowing out a slab of wood like that. Very good.

    At some point I want to do a pirate treasure hunt in our back garden for our boys (probably a birthday party) and this looks like a pretty efficient way of making treasure chests. I will do the lids differently, though, making a sliding lid inset into the top.

    1 reply

    Thanks!  When you make it be sure to send me a picture so I can see the new lid.  My Lid isn't the best method, I wanted to hinge it but had no hinges on hand.



    9 years ago on Introduction

    Cool !

    I probably would've cut 4 pieces and mitered them then glue them but your method is cooler!