Nothing can give you a sense of pride (and storage) like building your own indoor storage chest. From toys and sports equipment to linens and more, its up to you on what it will hold. So are you ready to get started woodworking? This step by step guide will give you all you need to construct your first indoor storage chest.
If you are still struggling with the construction, Teds Woodworking has a ton of plans to help further your woodworking knowledge. In fact, after you complete the storage chest, you may want to further this new hobby using one of their 16,000 plans.
- Measuring tape
Optional, but will help:
- Electric saw
- Electric drill
- Nail Gun & compressor
- 8 pieces of 1x12x8 wood
- 5 pieces of 1x4x8 wood
- 8 feet molding in style of choice (optional)
- Continuous (piano) hinge
- Soft close hinge (optional)
- 1-1/4 inch pocket hole screws
- 1-1/4 or 1-1/12 inch brad nails
- Stain of choice (optional)
- Use of a saw, including making 45-degree angle cuts
- Using a jig for pocket hole wood joinery
- Use of clamps to ensure strong joints
- Proper installation procedures for a continuous hinge
- How to stain wood (optional)
Pocket Hole Wood Joinery
Process for a Continuous Hinge
How to Stain Wood
Step One: Gather Materials
The good thing about this project is that you can pick up most of the parts at your local home improvement store and lumber yard. Depending on where you go, you may need to order the continuous hinge and soft close hinges. Many home improvement stores will have them though, since they are a popular DIY item for indoor storage chests, benches, boxes, and more.
Step Two: Set Up Your Cut List
As with any woodworking project, it’s vitally important to set up a cut list. This process involves laying out what your finished diy storage chest will look like. Then you’ll take the measuring tape and pencils to it in order to mark out your cuts.
This project is designed to fit at the end of a bed neatly, though it would look lovely by the entryway too. That means turning 4 of the 1x12x96″ boards into 1x12x60″ boards for the top and bottom panels. Then you’ll need to create 4 1x12x18.5″ boards to form the side panels.
Time to Measure
Once the big pieces are out of the way, it’s time to measure out the trim pieces. For this part, you’ll need to end up with 4 1x4x58″ pieces with 45 degree ends for the front and back trim. Meanwhile, you’ll also need to end up with 4 1x4x21-1/2″ pieces with 45 degree ends for the side trim. The vertical trim requires 8 1x4x15-1/2″ pieces, though they may require a little adjustment once you start assembling.
The last set of boards is the 4 1x12x56-1/2″s that make up the front and back. The molding needs to be cut once you’ve got most of the indoor storage chest assembled. That way you’ll have exact measurements for the three sides you’ll be attaching the molding too.
If you need more of a visual aid, head over to Ted’s Woodworking and grab one of their plans.
Step Three: Do the Cuts
How long this step takes depends on what tools you use. If you’re doing this project with hand tools only, the cuts will take some time. However, an electric saw will make quick work of the cuts. Remember to follow all woodworking 101 tips, including wearing safety glasses and securing pieces prior to cutting.
To recap, you should end up with:
- 4 pieces of 1x12x60″ board
- 4 pieces of 1x12x18.5″ board
- 4 pieces of 1x4x58″ board
- 4 pieces of 1x4x21-1/2 board
- 8 pieces of 1x4x15-1/2″ board
- 4 pieces of 1x12x56-1/2″ board
- The molding, which must be cut to fit later
Step 4: Assemble the Basic Shape
So now that you’ve got all the pieces of your container cut, it’s time to start assembling. The first step with this is to set up the pocket holes. To be clear, you will only need to do this on one half of each board on the long side. If you can, try to orientate the holes so they will be on the inside of your eventual box. This decision will allow your joints to become invisible without needing to cover the holes.
As a rule, pocket holes will need to start and end at least two inches from the end of the board. Additionally, you’ll need to make the holes between six and eight inches apart to obtain a strong joint. You’ll want to work slowly in order to prevent fracturing in the wood grains, especially if you’re using an electric drill.
Time to Join
Once you have the basic pocket holes in place, it’s time to join the pieces into the sides, top, bottom, front, and back. To ensure this goes smoothly, make sure to secure the two parts of each side before installing the actual screws. This securing can take the form of wood glue that’s been allowed to set up between the level pieces or of a clamping system. Then follow through with and screw through the pocket holes slowly.
Now, each side of the box should be two pieces of wood joined together. From here, you’ll take the front (1x24x18.5) and a side (1x24x18.5). Join these together so that the end of the side meets the face of the front, and glue. Once that is properly secure, you can put in guide holes and the actual screws. Repeat the process for the back and other side. Once both L shaped sections are secured, screw them together to make the basic rectangle for your storage unit.
Step 5: Trim
From here, it’s time to install the trim. The trim is not simply decorative; it also strengthens your diy wooden chest so it will stand the test of time. With the trim, you’ll want the nail gun running and loaded with the brad nails.
To start with the trim, take the long trim pieces first. Starting with the front of your rectangle, glue and then brad nail one trim piece to the bottom, level along the floor. Then repeat the process, but level with the top lip of the front. Repeat the process with the back panel. Remember to lay the trim pieces so they will form a smooth corner when you finish installing.
Next, focus on the sides of your rectangle. You’re going to do the same thing, placing trim on the top and bottom. The trick is to get the corners to line up with the front and back trim without gaps. You may need to do some additional refining to obtain a perfect fit.
Now, it’s time to add the vertical trim. Start with the sides, rather than the front and back. For this, place the trim so it fits between the top and bottom trim, and is flush with the corner. Attach it using the nail gun. Then it’s time for the front and back vertical trim. This trim edge should be flush with the edge of the side trim, rather than the original rectangle corner though.
Step 6: Attach the Bottom
Up until now, your project has not had a definite orientation. For this step, you’ll need to pick which of the two open sides will be the bottom of your chest. You can pick randomly or examine your trim work to decide this. If there is any trim you feel is flawed, orientate the rectangle so it’s closest to the bottom.
To attach the bottom, flip your rectangle so that the eventual top is resting on the floor. Then lay your bottom piece on top of the rectangle. You should set one edge flush with the long side you want to be the back trim of your chest. The other three sides will naturally have about an inch of overhang, so don’t worry about it. When you feel you’ve got the panel positioned correctly, secure it, screw each corner, and then place a screw about every foot in between the corners.
Step 7: Attach Molding
Molding is an optional step, but it affects the appeal of the final piece. Cove molding works well for this project, but you can use whatever you like. You will only be placing molding on the front and sides of your storage unit since the back will be placed against a wall or bed.
For this, orientate the box so the bottom is on the floor. If you have not done so, cut the molding to match the measurements with the trim of the front and sides of the chest. Ensure you leave enough space to do a 45 degree cut in each piece, as this will form a corner. The parts that sit on the sides only need one angled cut, while the front piece needs two.
Once you’ve got the molding fitted to your box, attach it using the brad nails and nail gun. Every six to eight inches is enough.
Step 8: Attach the Top
In order for the chest to open easily, it needs a hinge. To start, your box should be upright, and the hinge should be centered along the back of the top lip. This means the unused part will be hanging down the back of the chest, not inside. Ensure that you put in guide holes prior to installing screws, since replacing split wood at this stage would take time.
Now that one side of the hinge is attached to the box, lay the box on its side with the hinge against the floor. Lay the top of the box underneath the unused hinge side, and make sure to center it so there is an inch of overhang on each side. Remember to add pilot holes before attaching screws.
Soft close hinges can be added using their included instructions. You’ll want these to prevent smashed fingers and limit noise.
Step 9: Stain Your Preferred Shade
If you like the natural color of the wood you chose, you’re welcome to skip this step. Alternatively, you can apply a clear protective sealant. If you do either though, you’ll need to move the project to a well-ventilated area first in line with the safety lessons from woodworking 101.
Every step of the staining process should be rubbed rather than brushed to ensure quality. To begin, apply a wood conditioner to ensure the best results. These typically go one quickly and dry in less than half an hour. From there, it’s on to your stain of choice. Remember to try to get the application as even as possible. Stains take days to dry, depending on your environmental conditions. You should check it every 24 hours for wetness.
If you simply want to apply a protective sealant coat, be prepared to let it sit for two days before installing your chest where you want. You can use sealant coats over stains, but you’ll need to be very careful about mixing products and dry times.
Step 10: Add Handles
Presumably, you’re not interested in smooshing your fingers to move your indoor storage chest around, or in risking smooshed fingers. That’s where handles come in. You can get pairs of well-made handles to match your chest’s final look on the internet as well as the supply store. You’re looking for ones that bolt or screw on, so they last as long as your chest will.
To install side handles for moving your box, center the handles six to eight inches down each side, marking the location with a pencil. Then drill guide holes, followed by the bolts or screws. The top requires a little more measuring, since centering the handles each a third of the way across provides the best ergonomics for lifting the lid. Repeat the process of attachment, and your diy storage chest is complete.
Whatever room you put your new indoor storage chest, its sure to start a conversation. You might even be inspired to build a indoor storage chest per room. With your new woodworking hobby, there is nothing you can’t manage. If you get stuck, head over to Ted’s Woodworking and grab one of their 16,000 woodworking plans and let your imagination run wild!