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Make a Storage Chest

Build a simple, economical trunk with a seat on top and lots of clothing and linen storage inside. Leave it plain or paint a design using our free downloadable stencil.

Green storage chest

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1 weekend

Estimated Cost


Tools and Materials


  • Table saw
  • Drill and bits
  • Countersinking bit for #8 screws
  • Random-orbit sander with medium and fine discs
  • 48"-capacity clamps
  • Tape measure
  • Carpenter's square
  • Hacksaw
  • Metal file
  • Painter's tape
  • 4-in paint roller


  • 49" x 97" sheet of 3/4" MDF (#37461)
  • 4 2-1/4" high, 5" diameter bun feet (#64682)
  • 4 3" straight mounting plates (#838)
  • 1-1/2" x 48" continuous hinge (#3979)
  • Left and right folding lid supports
  • 3 packs of #8 x 1-1/2" flathead screws
  • 2 packs of #8 x 3/4" sheet-metal screws
  • Wood filler (#260763)
  • Titebond wood glue (#627)
  • Valspar Signature paint: Mountain Botanical, #6010-9, Can't Miss Lime, #6011-10

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

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Cut the parts

Step 1

Cut the sides to equal sizes (Cutting Diagram). Then cut the back and front to equal sizes.

Good to Know

After cutting pairs of identical parts, stack them on each other to confirm they're the same size.

Step 2

Cut the top to size and the bottom about 1/2" oversize. Set these parts aside for now.

Glue together the chest

Step 1

Without using glue, clamp the sides, front, and back together; use a carpenter's square to keep the assembly straight. Measure between the sides and between the front and back. Then cut the bottom to fit.

Step 2

Drill countersunk holes into the front and back for screws to hold the case together. Note how the parts go together, remove the clamps, and drill 1/8" pilot holes in the edges of the sides and bottom.

Good to Know

Driving screws into MDF edges without first drilling pilot holes can cause the material to split. Drill pilot holes just large enough so only the screw threads grip the MDF.

Step 3

Glue and screw the front and back to the sides and bottom. After the glue dries, putty over the screw heads with wood filler. Let dry and sand smooth.

Good to Know

Gluing a big project such as this can be challenging. Assemble it with clamps only (no glue) beforehand to work out any problems. If everything fits, assemble with screws and glue.

Add the legs and lid

Step 1

Flip the chest upside down and mark where you want the feet mounting plates at the corners of the bottom. (Screw a bun foot to a plate to find the right locations.) Drill pilot holes and fasten the plates to the bottom with 3/4" sheet-metal screws.

Step 2

Using a hacksaw and file, cut the continuous hinge to fit the width of the chest. With the hinge barrel centered on and flush with the back edge of the lid, drill pilot holes for the hinge mounting screws.

Good to Know

Avoid drilling through the lid by taping your drill bit at the length of the hinge screws (without the head).

Step 3

Clamp a long piece of scrap wood to the back of the chest, flush with the top edge; rest the lid on the scrap centered along the chest. Mark and drill the hinge hole locations; then screw the hinge to the chest.

Step 4

With the lid vertical, measure and mark the locations of the left and right lid supports. Drill pilot holes, attach the supports, and test the operation of the lid.

Good to Know

If you're building this for a child's room, take the precaution of installing special lid supports that keep the top from slamming down suddenly.

Step 5

Open storage chest

Remove the hardware, sand the outside surfaces smooth, and wipe them clean. Seal the MDF with primer and let dry. (Finish the bun feet and lid separately.) Sand and clean again before applying two coats of latex paint. After the last coat dries, reassemble the chest and add optional felt pads to the chest edges at the corners opposite the hinge.

Add a Stencil

Step 1

Stenciled storage chest in a bedroom

If possible, raise the storage chest to working height by placing it on a worktable before you apply the stencil. Then stabilize it by putting cardboard pieces under the feet until it sits level. Sand, prime, and paint a base coat on the storage chest (we used Can't Miss Lime). Add a second coat if necessary. Allow the chest to dry overnight.

Step 2

Download the Storage Chest template. Cut out the template. To create a square, mirror the to-scale pattern to create the four corners. Line up the template as you like on one side of the front of the chest. Note where the square's corners will line; mark these spots on the chest with a pencil. Apply 1-inch painter's tape to the chest connecting the pencil marks to create the interlocking square pattern; firmly press down the edges.

Step 3

Move the template and connect the next square to the ends of the first square. Repeat until the pattern reaches the ends of the front and sides of the chest. (We repeated the squares four times for the front and one and a half for the sides of the chest.)

Step 4

For the top of the chest, use the pattern on the front and the side as your guide. Aline the inside corner with the inside top line of the painter's tape pattern to create squares on each corner. Next measure 3 inches in on each side of the chest, and apply painter's tape to create a frame. The tape should form one edge of the square pattern at each of the four corners.

Step 5

Detail of Stenciled Storage Chest

Use a 4-inch roller to cover the chest with the second paint color (we used Mountain Botanical). Start with a thin coat of paint and add additional layers until the desired color is achieved; let dry. Remove tape to reveal the pattern.