Chef Toque Donation Box

About: I have been doing woodworking for about 7 years now. I had never worked with furniture before that. I can now use a lot of tools and can also use a laser engraver to create even more aesthetic works of art.

First off, A toque blanche (French for "white hat"), often shortened to toque, is a tall, round, pleated, starched white hat worn by chefs.

As a challenge, a friend of mine asked me if I could make a donation box for their charity event. He asked if I could make it look like a toque. He wanted something large.

So, I began.

In looking for supplies to make this project I collected up old bed sheets to be used for the exterior look. When all was done, I had ended up using 2 full king size flat sheets.

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Step 1: Top & Bottom

First I cut the top and the bottom. I cut these at 18" round circle.

In one of the circles (bottom) I made a large hole, big enough to put your hand and arm into (so that you can pull out the masses of donation checks). In the other circle, I cut a 6 inch slot hole in it so checks can be inserted into the box. I installed the "trap door" from the inside of the box, so that the weight of the donations does not push the door open. This had to be done at the beginning as I would not be able to reach it once I had the sides on.

Step 2: Wrap the Circles

Next was to use the bendy ply and wrap around both the top and the bottom to form the "log look". I put both the top and bottom about 2 inches in from the edge so that the chef can get their fingers under it to carry it.

I used Titebond wood glue and the 1 1/2 inch staples to secure the ply to the circles.

Step 3: Sanding & Prepping

Next is to sand the hat completely. I used the toughest grit possible and then worked my way up to the smoother grits. Doing this helped to make sure there were no "lumps"and that the hat was round. I was also concerned about splinters that could snag on the fabric.

Once done, I painted the whole thing white. This not only "sealed" the hat but it also helped to make sure there was no way for the tan color of the wood to show through the white fabric.

Step 4: Fabric

Now came the fun part of putting the fabric on. I pulled out the bed sheets I had collected up earlier and began to staple these onto my "Box".

For this, I used 1/2 inch upholstery staples. I pleated the fabric onto the hat, pulling tight for each pleat (these hats are normally pretty stiff and starched). When stapling, I made sure that each staple went into an area that would not be seen in the final product. Continue this all the way around the hat. Once you get to the end (back to where you started) then you just need to tuck it in to the first pleat to make it look continuous.

I want to stress that pulling tight on this is important to the overall look.

Step 5: Bottom

On the lower section of the hat, there is a flat area. Just under 1/3 of the overall height.

As this is very straight and stiff, I wrapped a piece of laminate with the sheet and stapled that onto my box. Again, no staples can show, so lift up the sheet first, then staple in a straight line, then place the laminate there and roll the fabric over it and staple to the bottom of the box.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

This included me cleaning up the edges and making sure no staples were visible and all loose ends were covered. On the visible top, I used white felt with adhesive backing to cover all the staples and loose parts of the sheet.

I then put Velcro on the bottom door to prevent it from opening when being carried. And that was it. I turned it over to the chef, who was over the moon about it.

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