Faux Wood Secret Felted Keepsake Box




Introduction: Faux Wood Secret Felted Keepsake Box

Beautiful wood can be expensive and difficult to work with. Here I'll show you an easy way to make a plush 6" x 4" x 4.5" novelty box lined with felt which not only looks like real wood but is hiding 2 secret compartments. Costing only $3 to make, an ideal gift if you're strapped for cash or a perfect place to hide your cash if you're rolling in it! You'll get to try out a number of useful skills - making fake wood, felting the inside of a box and building sturdy structures out of foam board.

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Step 1: What You Need!

In short, you won't need much! However, you will want a sheet of 3/16" thick foam board ~20" x 30", some felt, some paints and a coarse brush, some all purpose glue, scissors, a craft knife and about 4 and a half hours to spare. (If you want a varnished box, you will also want some of that too)

Step 2: Your First Cuts!

We are going to cut out the "planks" from the foam board which will go to make up the box.

Using a sharp craft knife, cut the following strips of foam core boards and label lightly on one side with pencil (A,B,C,D) TIP: Using a sharp knife is essential both in terms of safety and also achieving clean cuts. A dull blade will result in ripped foam, spoiling the end result.
A = 20" x 4.5"
B = 20" x 2"
C = 12" x 4"
D = 12" x 3 5/8"

Step 3: Turning Paper Back Into Wood...

To achieve the fake wood effect we will use a coarse bristled brush, four coats of paint, two of which give background color and 2 give the grain effect. Finally we finish with a coat of general purpose clear drying glue, which adds more depth to the fake grain, a shiny coat and extra strength to the final box.

Coat 1 (Background color 1) = A wash (use lots of water mixed with the paint) with bright yellow. Allow to dry for 10 mins.

Coat 2 (Background color 2) = A wash with Brown/ Ocre. While still wet, rub with kitchen towel/ tissue in a continuous line along the centre of the entire length of each strip, giving a lighter appearance in the center of the �wood�. Allow to dry for 10 mins

Coat 3 (The Grain 1) = Brown Ocre. Dab the brush in undiluted Ocre paint and then dab on tissue paper to remove excess paint. Run the brush along the entire length of the board repeat until all of the wood is covered. Allow to dry for 10 mins. TIP: Always brush the entire length of the board – tree grain does not stop!

Coat 4 (The Grain 2) = Burnt Umber. As with the 3rd coat, repeat with a darker brown paint. Again allow to dry for 10 mins

Coat 5 Allow to dry before coating generuously with all purpose glue. Allow to dry thoroughly before continuing.

Step 4: Cutting Up the Planks

Using a sharp craft knife, cut the fake wood into the following lengths.
A = 6",4",6",4"
B = 5 1/2", 3 1/2", 5 1/2", 3 1/2"
C = 6", 6"
D = 5 1/2", 5 1/2" (Save the remainder for step 13)

Note:From this point on the pieces will be described by their letter and length. i.e. The 6" x 4.5" section from length A will be denoted A6"

Step 5: Cutting Notches in the Foam Core.

In order to hide the foam in the finished product, we are going to cut notches where the sections come together as described below.

Take both A6" section and place painted side down on a craft cutting mat. Carefully cut a 5/16" strip from both 4" ends, only cutting through the non painted backing and the foam itself (do not cut through the painted part of the board). Next cut down through the foam itself. This should leave you with 2 notches in each bored as shown in the image below.

Repeat for both B51/2" sections, this time cutting from the 2" sides.

Repeat for both C6" sections, this time cut from all four sides.

Repeat for one of the D51/2 sections, again cutting from all four sides

Step 6: More Cuts to Make the Lid

Place all A sections painted side down on a craft cutting mat. Cut the 4.5" end of each section to yield 8 sections, 4 with a width of 3" and 4 with a width of 1.5" TIP: Cutting with the painted side face down protects the thin flaps of overlap card and prevents it from buckling which would affect the end look.

Step 7: Painting the Hidden Compartment Sections

Paint the non-wood side of all four 2" width A and both of the C6" sections. You may choose to use the fake wood effect as used above or a neutral color (such as brown) works well. This will ultimately be the color inside both of the secret compartments. Allow to dry for 30 mins.

Step 8: Felting the Box

Spread all purpose glue on the notched side of both B5 1/2" and the non-painted side of both of the 3 1/2 sections. Spread with a scrap of foam core board. Place glue side down on felt (available very cheaply from craft stores). Place a heavy book (phonebook works well) and allow to dry for 30 minutes)

Repeat step 12 on both D5 1/2 sections (ensure you felt the notched side of the one notched D5 1/2" section) and the non-painted side of all four 1.5" width A sections.

Once dry cut away the excess felt as neatly as possible with a pair of sharp scissors. TIP: Don't try and cut felt with a knife, it will dull your blade very quickly and will tear the felt rather than cut through it.

Step 9: Glue the Box Together

Glue the four A sections from step 9 together (wood effect out) to make up the sides of the box Glue a C6" section in place to make the bottom of the box. Repeat with the remaining four A sections and remaining C6" section to make the top of the box. TIP: You can match up the sections of the top and bottom of the box before gluing so that the grain appears seamless when the lid of the box is placed on.

Glue the four B sections together to make up the sides of the inner box. Glue the notched D5 1/2" section on the bottom with the felt-side inside.

Hold everything in place with rubber bands while the glue dries.

Step 10: Secret Panel Supports

Take the remaining piece of D card from step 3 ( ~1 3/4" x 3 1/2") cut in half to give 2 pieces ~3/4" x 3 1/2. Now cut each piece along the longer side into 4 equal pieces as shown below and stick one piece standing up in the corner of the bottom box (The inner box will sit on these). Glue the remaining four pieces flat in the corner of the top of the box. (The remaining B 5 1/2" section will sit on these)

Step 11: Finishing Up

Glue a small tab of felt on to the back of the hidden panel. You will use this to remove the hidden panel and access the area behind it.

To finish the box you can paint up any exposed foam core (eg the supports from step 13). Using a neutral colored felt tip pen/ paint, carefully color any exposed white edges. Close the box and spray with a gloss finish of your choice.

See the intro for finished pics.

Enjoy your box!

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    8 Discussions


    11 years ago on Step 3

    Thanks for this! I think this part alone will help with many mock steampunk projects to come.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    wouldn't it be very light and easy to see that its fake? jw but good Instructable


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    IDEA!: glue a lead weight in the secret compartment and your good to go. nobody could tell!


    12 years ago on Introduction

    I used the methods shown here to create a little 15"x10"x4" two level shelf for organizing coin wrappers and cardboard mylar holders. Works pretty well. I was planning on using MDF but I'm not very good at woodworking and this solved the problem. Never would of thought about using foam board. Very nice Instructable. By the way, you have some serious painting skills. I didn't paint my project as it wouldn't of turned out nicely, lol.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, this is a great instructable, I might try this soon, i'll post up the results! Thanks! ~Alex


    12 years ago on Introduction

    NIce, a good trompe l'oeil and appliable to another surfaces too, even for cardboard gift boxes ; )

    Chris Bilton
    Chris Bilton

    12 years ago on Introduction

    Nice instructable for those leftover pieces of foam board. It would make a nifty box for playing cards with your winnings in the secret chamber. Or maybe a cute jewellery box with a few sequins for decoration.