Sunday, June 30, 2019

How to Build a Simple Treasure Chest

My five year old had been asking for a treasure hunt and I finally found time to make a proper treasure chest for him to find. I wanted it to be weather resistant, durable, and to look like a "real" treasure chest.

The finished product


  • 3/4" oak boards (about two board feet)
  • An old leather belt
  • Brass hinges
  • Wood screws
  • Titebond II wood glue
  • Boiled linseed oil


  • Mitre saw or table saw
  • Drill
  • Pocket screw jig (optional, Titebond glue is probably sufficient on its own)
  • Clamps
  • Rachet straps
  • Heavy duty scissors


I built the base first. The base consists of five rectangles of 3/4" thick oak, shown in the diagrams below. 

Base, top view

When building the base, I use Titebond glue on all joints. Before applying glue, I drill lots of small (1/16" deep, 1/16" diameter) holes in the contact surface to help glue adhesion. 

Base, end view

I used pocket screws and Titebond II glue to attach the upright "walls" of the base to the bottom. If you do not have a pocket screw jig, you can either drill pilot holes up through the bottom, or you can just do glue. 

The top was trickier to construct because I wanted an arched appearance.

Angled cuts in the top

To close the ends of the top, I made the arched section 6 1/2" inches long, then capped it on either end with a solid piece. 

End view with top

I sanded the whole exterior, then coated the whole thing with boiled linseed oil and let it dry overnight (remember, be careful with linseed-soaked rags, they can spontaneously combust). 

I attached the top with small brass hinges, and added some metal corner hardware. I cut small strips of leather from the belt and attached them to the sides with wood screws. 

Then I buried it in the dirt, drew its location on a map, and watched the adventure unfold. 

Let the hunt begin!