DIY Rustic Storage Trunk

Hello! I’ve got another great project for you today! I built two of these awesome Storage Trunks for my daughters for Christmas. They both have piles of things they want to save forever and I wanted them to have not only a safe spot to put them, but also something that can serve as furniture for whenever the day comes that they move out on their own (let’s not rush that, though!). So, in addition to being big and sturdy, these will hold a lot and also make a great coffee table!

I kept these hidden in the shop until Christmas, so we took the girls out there to surprise them and in between me opening my awesome surprise gift from the guys and coming back to load the trunks to take to the house, the girls had hidden inside. My husband and I proceeded to pick up one trunk, and the weight of it sent my mind reeling! I knew I’d built these heavy, but had I not moved them around by myself while building them? And now my strong hubby and I were having to beast this thing. I could not figure out why they seemed so heavy, then the lid popped open and there was our girl! Whew! I was glad they weren’t actually that heavy!

I also designed these so that the bottom is propped up off the floor a bit so that if they ever end up in a flooded basement or something, all the precious items inside will not be ruined. Okay, let’s get to it!

I made two trunks- I am listing supplies and directions to build one, but will show you the variations I did with both along the way.

For 1 trunk you will need-

1- 4’x8′ sheet of 3/4″ plywood for the box and lid

1- 2″x3″ board @8′ for risers

8-12- 1×4’s @ 8′- for trim and lid depending on whether you add the “X” pieces or not (I always dig through the $2 furring strip section for any straight boards before heading to the more costly common boards)

2-1×2 @ 8′ for lid trim

1- scrap piece of 1″x6″ @ 14 1/2″- for lid- run through table saw to create an appx. 4 3/4″ x 14 1/2″ piece

1 1/4″ Pocket hole screws

1 1/4″ finish nails

9-12- 2″ deck screws

1- set hinges of choice. I also used these.

2- handles of choice. I also used these.

Chain or lid lift supports to prevent the lid from opening too far. Either of these still allow the lid to slam, so I’d recommend something different if you have little ones who may get their fingers pinched.

-Optional- cedar slats to line bottom

Cut List-

For the box-

Cut your plywood as shown in the picture, so you’ll have-

2- 3/4″ plywood @ 36″ x 19 1/4″- Sides

2-3/4″ plywood @ 20″ x 19 3/4″- Ends

1- 3/4″ plywood @ 34 1/2″ x 20″- Bottom

1- 3/4″ plywood @ 36″ x 21 1/2″- Lid– you can set this aside while you work on the box

3- 2 x 3 @ 21 1/2″- Risers

4- 1×4 @ 21 1/2″- top  and bottom End Trim

4- 1×4 @ 37 1/2″ top and bottom Side Trim

8-1×4 @ 14 3/16″- Corner trim- measure and cut to fit once you’ve added your top and bottom trim

*If you want to add the “x” trim, you’ll need additional 1x4s measured and cut to fit.

For the Lid-

Your 3/4″ plywood @ 36″ x 21 1/2″

2- 1×4 @ 21 1/2″- Lid top ends

2- 1×4 @ 29″ Lid top sides

Scrap 1×6 @ 14 1/2″ ripped to appx. 4 3/4″ wide– measure and cut to fit

Various 1x4s cut at angles as shown in instructions.

2-1×2 @ 21 1/2″ Lid end trim

2-1×2 @ 37 1/2″ Lid side trim

First up, you’ll need to cut your plywood. I love my Kreg Rip Cut for this! I break the plywood down with it and my Circular saw, then do my remaining cuts with my awesome new Ridgid Sliding Miter Saw. You can also have the guys at Home Depot cut it for you. I do wear safety glasses and ear protection almost always- so please don’t send hate mail because I’m not wearing them in these pics- It was so cold in the shop that my glasses kept fogging up, which I’m pretty sure is even more dangerous 😉

Alrighty, your stack of cut plywood should look something like this-

You will need pocket holes drilled into the bottom (all around) and end pieces (on the 19 3/4″ sides of the end pieces), so mark where you want them.

*I put the end pocket holes facing in on these trunks, but have since built 2 more with pocket holes facing out. I recommend facing them out, as your trim will cover them up and you’ll have no pocket holes showing on the inside 🙂

Drill pocket holes. If you do not have a Kreg Jig, you could use regular screws to join everything together, just be sure to predrill your holes. I recommend a Kreg Jig, though!

Again, these pics show the end pocket holes facing in- but I recommend facing them out 🙂 Attach your ends to one of the sides with wood glue and 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws. These clamps are super helpful here!

Once you’ve attached the ends, go ahead add the bottom with wood glue and 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws. You can see in this pic, the trunk is still on its side, so you can attach the bottom.

Once the bottom is attached, roll the trunk right over so it’s right side up, then place the final side piece next to it, add glue to the end and bottom of the side piece, then roll the box back over on top of that side piece. This makes it a lot easier to screw those last pocket hole joints 🙂Great job! Now you have your base. Roll it over again so it’s upside down and we’ll add the bottom risers. Take your 3- 2″x3″ pieces, put one on each end and one in the middle. Pre-drill your holes and attach with wood glue and 2″ deck screws.

Now we’ll trim the box out. Roll that base right side up again, and attach 1x4s to the ends first, then sides on top and bottom using wood glue and 1 1/4″ brad nails. I love my 18 gauge Airstrike nailer for this!

Now, we’ll cover up those corners with more trim. Add one piece vertically on the end, between your top and bottom horizontal pieces, keeping it flush with the side. Then, add another piece on the side, joining the edges up so the corner are flush with the top and bottom trim pieces. Repeat on all 4 corners.Okay, you can call it done on the box here, or follow the next few steps if you’d like to add the X on the front and back of your box. 

Line a 1×4 up from corner to corner and mark for your cuts. 

Set the angle on your saw to match your marks and cut.

Now, take another piece and mark from the corner to where it meets your first cross piece. Cut two of those and attach with more wood glue and 1 1/4″ nails.Done with the base! Which style is your favorite?

 Now, let’s work on the lid. Go ahead and attach your top end pieces using wood glue and 1 1/4″ nails, then attach the top side pieces the same way= keeping everything flush around the edges..

Now, draw a line down the center of your lid.

Cut one end of a 1×4 at a 45 degree angle.

Match that up in one corner of the lid and mark where it meets your center line.

Cut that end at 45 degrees, to match the mark you just made. Ends are parallel.

Make sure it fits, then cut 3 more just like this for a total of 4.

Set them in place, but don’t glue and nail them just yet.

Now, measure and rip that scrap 1×6 piece to fit in between those angled 1x4s, perpendicular to your center line.

Now, cut another 45 degree end on a 1×4 and line it up between one of the angled 1x4s you’ve already placed, and your center board. Mark where it meets the border piece and cut again. This time the ends will not be parallel.

Set it in place, and continue cutting and placing. You will need 8 of these pieces, as they go above and below those first angled pieces- just flip them over 😉

Just about finished! Now, you’ll need to cut a bunch of little triangles to fill in those final gaps. I just marked and cut  as I went. These little cuts can be tricky- be super careful here!

Now, you can keep it like this, or to have your angles facing the other way, just take those angled pieces out, and keeping the center piece in place, point everything to the center instead of the outside.

Once everything looks and fits good, work your way around the lid and glue and nail everything into place. Use 1 1/4″ brad nails.

Finish with the 1x2s on the shorter ends first, then long sides.

I love how these lids turned out so much! I can’t decide which style I like best.

Go ahead and sand everything before staining.

I finished the lids off with a brand- that’s how we roll here on the ranch 🙂

Now for some stain! I used Dark Walnut one one-

And mixed Dark Walnut and Weathered Grey on the other-

Once the stain was dry, I gave everything a little distress sanding with my Corner Cat.

Now you can attach hardware! Decide where you want everything, then pre-drill your holes and attach.

I set my hinges 6″ in from each end.

Go ahead and add your chain or lid lift supports, this will prevent the lid from opening too far. 

Adding cedar slats in the bottom was my husband’s idea. Totally optional, but I love the smell and pest prevention. If you’d like to add them, just cut to fit in the bottom of your trunk, and glue and nail in place. I used rough cut cedar fence slats and sanded them down. 

And that’s it! What do you think?

I’d love to see how yours turns out! Let me know if you have any questions! Have a wonderful day 🙂

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