How to Build a Wooden Chest

Every home needs a chest. Chests have a timeless beauty that makes them suitable for heirloom gifts. Chests have many functions, from storing clothing, blankets and linens, toys, keepsakes, or simply for decoration. Children also love chairs for hiding treasure and playing games. If you're thinking of making a chest, no matter what its purpose, then you've come to the right place. There are a few basic steps that you should follow and a few safety issues that you should be aware of before you begin. There are many designs and embellishments for wooden chests, but today we will discuss the basics for you.

1) Safety first, as always. Chests look great and provide storage for numerous items, but you do not want your chest to become a hazard to children. So, to begin this article, we're going to discuss how to make your chest safe for people of all ages. Invest a little in slow closing hinges. Solid wood items are very heavy. If the top can slam down, it can smash someone's fingers or injure a child in multiple ways. Your chest should also have air spaces to prevent suffocation. Toy boxes generally have a two inch clearance underneath the front of the lid so that a child trapped inside can breathe and call for help. Taking these two extra steps can help you to avoid future tragedies.

2) You will need two large sheets of cabinet grade plywood, 3/4 inches thick. Cut two pieces, 14.5 x 48 inches wide using a circular saw. These pieces will be the front and back of your wooden chest. Cut two more pieces, 14.5 x 24 inches. These will be the sides of your chest. Now is a good time to cut an air slot on the front if you wish. Use the piece that will be the front of the chest. Leave each end of the top edge at 14.5 inches tall for four inches in from each side. Trace a line about two inches down from your marks and cut out a 40 inch section that is 2 inches wide. You can slope the opening so that it looks nice and clean. This cut out section will not show much when the chest is closed.

3) Cut another piece, 24 x 48 inches for the bottom of the chest. Use a nail gun or wood screws to affix all five pieces together. You can use blocks for legs to keep the chest up off of the floor. Go ahead and put them on while you have the chest upside down. If you want, instead of screwing or using a nail gun to connect the pieces together, you can use a wood dowel to create a strong dowel joint. Use a hardwood dowel if you're using a hardwood for your chest.

4) Cut the top piece one inch bigger than the bottom piece, 25 x 48 inches. It should overhang your air vent by about an inch, hiding it from first glance. Attach your slow-close hinges, sand, stain, varnish and you're done.