If you have been visiting Red Cottage Chronicles for awhile you know that I embarked on a One Room Challenge where I had planned to complete a one room reno in six weeks. While I am way over the time limit, we are still working away on our little room and can’t wait to show you the finished space!
In the meantime I am super excited to share how we built this storage trunk to use as a coffee table when the room is finished.
It was inspired by the Rebecca Trunk from Pottery Barn. I must admit I could spend all day in Pottery Barn (and Williams Sonoma)! If I was going to get locked in a store overnight, either one of these stores would be okay with me. We don’t have a Pottery Barn close to us, so when I do get there, the family can drop me off and pick me up again when they are done shopping the rest of the mall!
It was a pretty easy build and although it doesn’t have all the hardware as the Pottery Barn version does, I think we get the same feel of a time worn vintage trunk!
We headed to our local Rona to pick up a sheet a (4 x 8) good one side 1/2 inch spruce plywood. We had to cut to our specifications at the store. I don’t mind if I have to pay for an extra couple of cuts when we are doing a project like this when it is crucial that the cuts are perfectly straight.
Our trunk measures 36 x 23 x 19 1/2 inches. Our cut list was as follows, but you can customize it to any size you wish. I laid it all out on a piece of paper to make sure we could get it all out of the one sheet.
2 @ 18 3/4″ x 32 3/4″ (for the sides)
2 @ 32 1/2″ x 19″ (1 for the top and 1 for the bottom)
2 @ 18 3/4″ x 18 3/4″ (1 for each end)
We also purchased 3 – 2 x 4 x 8’s and simply cut them to fit around the box as we did the build.
We started by building a rectangle box by first gluing each piece and then using a brad nailer to secure all the sides together.
You will note that the ends of the short pieces are butted up against the sides of the long pieces. I hope this makes sense, but you can see it in the picture below.
The next step was to fasten the bottom to the sides. I didn’t get a picture of this step, but essentially the bottom piece was set atop the frame, glued and then brad nailed in place.
Here is a look at the trunk, or should I saw box, so far. (See how the end pieces are secured “inside” the side pieces)
Using regular 2 x 4 spruce, we measured and mitered the edges to fit around the bottom perimeter. We attached them to the box with wood screws from the inside, so they wouldn’t be visible on the outside.
Next step was to lay the top piece of plywood on the box so that we could put the 2 x 4 trim around the top. You will notice that once you secure the trim piece and remove the lid, the trim piece is actually a 1/2 inch higher than the box frame so the lid will lay flush with the 2 x 4’s.
I almost forgot to mention, for extra reinforcement, Tim screwed 1 x 2’s around the inside bottom perimeter of the box after it was completely assembled.
Here is the finished trunk before we aged the wood. We had my brother router the top edges of both the bottom and top 2 x 4 trim pieces to give it a finished looks.
We used the simple vinegar/steel solution we have used on several pieces we have made.
Simply add 2 wads of extra fine steel wool into a gallon of plain white vinegar, leaving the lid slightly loose and let it sit for about 2 or 3 days. We tightened the lid and gave it a gentle shake every day, before loosening the lid off again. You know the solution is ready when the steel wool has completely disintegrated.
Have no idea why the bowl is in the picture. We didn’t use it!!
Brew a very strong pot of tea. We added 5 tea bags to about 4 cups of water and let it sit until cold. Brush the tea onto the trunk with a clean brush. This will boost the woods tannin and create a more dramatic aged appearance when you apply the vinegar. The tea does not provide any colour change to your piece.
Now it is time to brush on the vinegar solution.
This is when the magic happens. I took this picture below just seconds after I brushed it on! The aging literally starts to happen immediately.
The one thing I did note is that when we applied the finish the lid was just sitting on top and not hinged on, and the edges started to lift up just a wee bit. We had a few heavy boxes of tile sitting around, which we just put on top of each corner and by the next morning it had settled back down into place.
We found this recessed ring handle at a later trip to Rona and we installed it into the top to make it easy to open for storage. We soaked it over night in the vinegar/steel wool solution, as we did all the metal hardware we used to trim it out. We used the same corner hardware when we built this buffet for the dining room.
The final step was installing the rest of the metal hardware pieces and handles.
I am thinking we should line the interior with cedar, but that will wait until we get our One Room Challenge done! Tim also will add a piano hinge on the inside to fasten the lid to the trunk and make for easy opening and closing.
I am so pleased with how it turned out. We are using it in the living room until the den is ready, but it will eventually add some extra storage to store blankets and such.
If you decide to tackle a project like this, make sure you take some time to choose a piece of plywood with a nice grain to it. The aging process really picks up the grain on this piece.
So what do you think? Certainly the $50 I spent on supplies makes me love it even more than if I had paid $699 for the original!
What I love about this vinegar/steel wool treatment is that it continues to age the wood for a time and will eventually reach a really nice varied gray patina.
I have said before, I am blessed to have married a man who loves a good DIY challenge just as much as I do otherwise some of these projects wouldn’t be possible!
Looking for other DIY furniture pieces? You can find one here and here!
Until next time….
This looks gorgeous! I’ve never heard of the vinegar and steel wool treatment but it’s something I will definitely keep in mind for a future DIY.
Thanks Sara! This solution has really become a favorite of ours!
Hi I’m just wondering what size handles you used on the sides and where you sourced them? Love the overall piece
I got them at Rona (if you are in Canada) but you could probably find them at Home Depot or Lowe’s. They were in the hardware section, kind of near gate and fence hardware I believe! and measure 3 1/2″ long by 3″ high.
Can you post the drawing of how the plywood should be cut? I would like to attempt this.
Hi Krissy! We had the plywood cut at the home improvement store. They have a saw that can cut long strips in just a few minutes. You want to cut the strips lengthwise along the 8 foot side, so that you have 8 foot lengths of boards at a width that you like. I think we had them cut at 6 or 8″ widths. But you can choose whatever width suits you. If you plan to cut the plywood at home, you would probably be best with a table saw to ensure nice straight edges. Cutting with a skil saw might be a bit tricky to get the cuts straight.