Secret Compartment Toy Box

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Project by John M posted 08-31-2009 02:14 AM 18749 views 26 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well, it’s finally finished…

It took me almost a month working a few nights a week and all day on one day each weekend but it’s done and it worked great.

For those who didn’t follow the blog entries I did about this project, the basic overview is that I wanted to make a toy box for my nephew for his first birthday but wanted it to be something that would hopefully be kept around a long time and that would be even more special as he got older.

So, I came up with the idea to build a secret compartment into the toybox because, quite frankly, when I was a kid I would have loved it if someone had made me something with a secret compartment in it!!

I also added some intarsia (my first attempt) from a plan I got from a scrollsaw magazine (that was my first try at intarsia and I really liked it. I am thinking about doing some more from this book soon as I get a chance) and the secret compartment was designed to be a drawer that would look like it was part of the bottom trim of the box.

I used dowel to make a locking pin system which from the outside looks like just one of the other decorative knobs around the base. The pins are held in place by magnets so that they don’t just come loose or open and the pins are not removable so they can not be lost.

All in all, I was very happy with how it turned out and the finishing was a great experience too since it worked out better than any of my other projects. I used two coats of MinWax floor polyurethane and then wet sanded the last coat with 600 grade sandpaper.

So, the box with the secret compartment is also now acting as a time capsule. I will tell him about it in 9 years (when he’s 10) and it has some magazines from this year, a letter with pictures of the construction of the box as well as another secret little gift for him.

Thanks for reading!!

-- John, Ontario, Canada

21 comments so far

View Walnut_Weasel's profile


360 posts in 4033 days

#1 posted 08-31-2009 02:20 AM

This looks great. If they decide to not keep it around for a long time they can send it over my way and I will hold onto it!!

-- James -

View Karson's profile


35224 posts in 5211 days

#2 posted 08-31-2009 02:22 AM

Cool: Great looking locking mechanism.

The chest looks great and the intarsia is a nice touch.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 4136 days

#3 posted 08-31-2009 02:34 AM

That is a fantastic plan. Take some pics of his parents right now to throw in there… and yourself! How about a printout of your project page? He will love it.

View a1Jim's profile


118104 posts in 4388 days

#4 posted 08-31-2009 02:35 AM

It came out great looks very good.


View Innovator's profile


3589 posts in 4224 days

#5 posted 08-31-2009 04:30 AM

It came out fantastic.

I love the time capsule idea, I need to keep that in mind.

-- Whether You Think You Can or You Think You Can't, YOU ARE RIGHT!!!

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 4585 days

#6 posted 08-31-2009 04:44 AM

Your toy box really came out great! The hidden compartment is a very nice touch. Thanks for posting.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 4006 days

#7 posted 09-01-2009 02:38 PM

Great job! I’ve been thinking about making my nephew a toy box as well with a secret compartment but wasn’t sure how I would do it yet. I didn’t want to just make a false bottom shelf. Thanks for some ideas.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View John M's profile

John M

46 posts in 4011 days

#8 posted 09-01-2009 06:25 PM

Thanks for all the comments everyone. It was hard for me to actually drop it off at my sister’s place…. ; )

-- John, Ontario, Canada

View ChrisN's profile


259 posts in 4584 days

#9 posted 09-01-2009 07:17 PM

Just Awsome.

-- Chris N, Westford, MA - "If you won't eat something from your fridge that turned green...why would you eat something that started out that way?"

View skidoo's profile


11 posts in 4021 days

#10 posted 09-07-2009 05:50 AM

The time capsule idea is quite an inspiration for this novice/intermediate woodworker. What a great a idea. And what a great looking chest. Kudos!

-- Chips and beer.

View jim1953's profile


2740 posts in 4653 days

#11 posted 09-07-2009 06:16 AM

Wow Great Lookin Toy Box

-- Jim, Kentucky

View Sandy's profile


234 posts in 4736 days

#12 posted 11-17-2009 09:54 PM

Nice job, and I love the secret drawer. I remember being fascinated by a secret drawer that a cousin had in his dresser.

I’m about to build a toy box for my first grandson, so I’ve been scouting the projects with the hope of getting some ideas. Would you share the outside dimensions of yours?

View Manitario's profile


2816 posts in 3694 days

#13 posted 07-27-2011 04:45 AM

John, that is such a cool idea, especially not telling him about the secret compartment! It will make it even more special for him when he finally discovers it.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2818 days

#14 posted 02-16-2013 06:22 PM

Anybody know if John M is still around? I just ran across this and I was gonna ask him if the nephew has found the time capsule treasure yet. It’s been almost 4 years since this was posted…

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View John M's profile

John M

46 posts in 4011 days

#15 posted 02-17-2013 04:43 AM

Hello joein10asee.
I’m still around, just unfortunately haven’t been posting since I haven’t had time to do any projects in the last few years… : (
However, as an update for you and anyone else who is wondering, my nephew has still not discovered the secret compartment though I think he came close once.
My plan is (barring him discovering it sooner) to show him the secret compartment on his 10th birthday making it a 10 year time capsule. I’m hoping that it works out and he doesn’t discover it by then.
One of the biggest challenges is reminding him whenever I visit to take good care of his toy box and that it isn’t something to be drawn on with markers or hammered on with his various other toys / play swords etc… lol.

Thanks again for your and all the other comments. This is by far the project that I’ve been most proud of.
Take care and best to everyone here.

-- John, Ontario, Canada

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