Steamer trunk prop for Tarzan

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Project by Doug posted 01-16-2014 12:57 PM 5034 views 3 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was asked by the Gelinas middle school in Stonybrook, NY to make some props for their annual theater production.
This year is it Tarzan. One of the props I had to build is a steamer trunk . Finding several old photos on the internet, I chose this style. It measures 36” x 20”x 24”. To keep the cost and weight down I decided to build this from inexpensive fir and Masonite for the panels and bottom. After a simple construction of stub tenon, pocket holes, and sliding cut Masonite panels into grooves in the frame it soon began to take shape. The curved lid was a challenge, but I did work my way through it and I was happy with the outcome. Now the fun began, finding hardware on e-bay, and some faux wood graining it now looked better than I imagined.
The faux leather handles were the most fun. Cutting the shape from a scrap 2×4 I sponge painted the wood to resemble leather. With painted stitching and gold color cardboard escutcheons, it took on a reality of its’ own. Finally adding hardware and handles, it is ready for opening night. I enjoyed all the construction challenges as well the faux painting and creativity. Thank you Nancy for your driving encouragement. This trunk is light weight and strong enough to endure an ocean voyage or a ride on the Orient Express. So let’s take a trip Nanc.

-- Doug, Long Island, Winterwood

8 comments so far

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1335 posts in 2780 days

#1 posted 01-16-2014 03:27 PM

Holy cow. Well done. That thing is spot on. Hopefully you plan to use it after the show is done…

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 3214 days

#2 posted 01-16-2014 03:39 PM

Wow, I help build props for my wife’s high school, and they never look anywhere close to that good. Nice work!

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View Sergio's profile


470 posts in 3537 days

#3 posted 01-16-2014 03:56 PM

That is great, cheap option for a lot of uses not only on the stage.

-- - Greetings from Brazil - --

View djc4990's profile


54 posts in 2438 days

#4 posted 01-16-2014 04:24 PM

looks great! hard to believe its just masonite on the panels!

-- I don't always have soft hands....but when I do its because I just left the woodshop.

View Doug's profile


50 posts in 3364 days

#5 posted 01-16-2014 04:51 PM

I couldn’t help but add a little more details….adding a few travel stickers from the victorian age

-- Doug, Long Island, Winterwood

View Marty 529's profile

Marty 529

344 posts in 2564 days

#6 posted 01-17-2014 03:02 PM

That is really amazing! Prop or not, it could sit in a room and be used.

-- Marty, Ohio

View Mattfinisher's profile


75 posts in 2730 days

#7 posted 01-17-2014 08:07 PM

Nice job! The faux paint job is pretty amazing!

-- “Anyone who doesn’t think money is grown on trees hasn’t bought any lumber lately.”

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 3020 days

#8 posted 01-21-2014 03:29 PM

Beautiful work, it looks authentic especially the wood grains and the handle. It’s a great props and creative build.

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