A wooden trunk, besides being a great storage system, usually looks great as a decoration at home. But on the other hand, thinking about the hobby to which I dedicate this blog, it is also a project that we all like to make when we start with our first woodworking projects, as it helps us to see how our skills working with wood and joints are improving.
Thus, depending on the kind of wood joints or assemblies with which we dare, we can get an idea of how our skills are. But to make a large wooden trunk, we will also need to dig deep into our pockets. That’s why in this post we’re going to look at a cheaper and still easy to make version. So let’s see how to make a trunk of reinforced thin plywood.
How to cut plywood boards
To make this reinforced plywood trunk I am going to use 5 mm plywood sheets.
And here is where I explain that I usually call this marquetry, because when I was a child at school we used to make figures by cutting these sheets with a hand marquetry saw. And we called these thin plywood sheets marquetry. I don’t know if that name is correct, but I guess it’s actually plywood. In this case 5 millimeters thick plywood.
Well, let’s continue. I have 2 identical square pieces for the short sides of the trunk. And four rectangular ones, also identical.
These rectangular ones are one for the front, one for the back, one for the base and the last one for the trunk lid. And the problem is that due to the system that I will use to fit the different pieces of the trunk, I have to cut the sheets in a certain way that we will see below.
First, it should be noted that the base plywood sheet and the lid sheet WON’T be cut. In addition, we will also take into account that the side of the square pieces is equal to the short side of the rectangular pieces.
To adjust the short sides we put one on the base, more or less in its position. And we put, between it and the edge of the long side of the base, a plywood sheet and a reinforcement that add up to a thickness A.
Since the plywood sheet plus the reinforcement add up to a thickness equal to A, that’s just what we see is left over where my hand is.
Then, as I will have another plywood sheet with another reinforcement on the front (where my hand is), I will have twice as much left over. So I have to remove a vertical strip with a width equal to 2A (two sheets plus two reinforcements).
I put two reinforcements and two plywood sheets right in the edge of the square sections and I mark the strip that I have to remove.
On each square sheet I only have to cut one strip on one of the four sides.
But now, to adjust the long sides I just put a reinforcement (with a thickness B) fitted on a short edge of the base. And since I will have another reinforcement on the other side, there is a width equal to 2B that must be removed. Then I have to cut a strip equal to 2B. Since I call B to the the thick of the reinforcements.
In this way, I put two reinforcements against a short side of the two rectangular plywood sheets that I have to cut, and I mark the strip that I have to remove.
As before, I just have to cut one strip in two of the rectangular boards.
And I’m going to cut the boards, making sure that the pieces are exactly the same dimensions two by two. For this purpose, I make a jig for cutting boards with the circular saw. Since I’m actually going to make three trunks, this guide helps me to work quickly and accurately with the circular saw.
Keep in mind that I made the cuts on what will be the vertical edges of these plywood sheets (on the edges that will remain vertical once the trunk is finished), so the height of the sheet boards remains as it was.
And after cutting all the pieces, I can get an idea of what this reinforced plywood trunk is going to look like.
How to make the template for reinforcing plywood sheets
To make the template to put the reinforcements, I have to put one of the rectangular pieces of plywood that I did NOT cut on top of a chipboard that serves as a work table. And as you can see in the picture, like this I can screw some stop blocks all around.
And now I put the wood reinforcements inside the template, I apply a line of glue on top of the reinforcements, and I staple the plywood sheet on the reinforcements. I have to do this with the two rectangular boards that I did NOT cut.
This is how I make the base and the lid of the plywood trunk.
The next thing to do is to put the reinforcements on the front and the back of this wooden trunk. And in this case the template that I am going to use to put the reinforcements is the same that I used in the case of the base and the lid. And I put the reinforcements inside the template in exactly the same position.
But now the plywood sheets are the ones I cut, and therefore they are shorter than in the previous case. The trick is to use a B reinforcement on each side to center the plywood sheets in the template. Then, I apply the glue to the reinforcements, I center the sheet on top of the reinforcements and I staple it. And I have to do the same with the two long plywood sheets I had cut.
Now I only have to reinforce the sides of the trunk. And for that, this time I have to make a new template for the plywood pieces that were square.
But these pieces are now rectangular, so I put two plywood cutouts vertical and against the long sides of this piece. And I screw some wood blocks all around. I think the picture shows well how to make this new template.
As in the previous cases, I put the reinforcements inside the template. Note that the reinforcements go against the 4 sides of the template.
I apply carpenter’s glue and I put the plywood sheet on top of the reinforcements, centering it with the help of the cutouts C. And I staple the sheet to the reinforcements. This way I have reinforced the short sides of the plywood trunk.
This way we get the sides of the trunk to fit to the front and the back, as shown in the picture.
How to assemble the plywood trunk
Now assembling the reinforced plywood trunk will be very easy, as the corners will fit easily. Then, we are going to apply glue to the small corner that we have in the front piece and in the back piece. I fit the short sides of the trunk into these corners, and reinforce the joints with the help of a pin nailer.
And since I don’t have to wait for the glue to dry, I can now put the base and the lid of the trunk on.
To put the base I apply a bead of carpenter’s glue and I nail the base with the help of the pin nailer.
And to put the lid on the wooden trunk I will install some simple hinges and a simple lock. I have an old padlock that will look nice in that lock. I also put another reinforcement on the sides to put some metallic handles. And also, because I want this trunk to be easy to move, I installed some casters.
And here I finished making this wooden trunk. I tried to explain everything step by step, but if you prefer you can also can, at the beginning of this post, the video in which I make this wooden trunk.
And because not always everything goes perfectly, something you already know if you follow my woodworking channel on YouTube, here is another video in which I tell some details when making this trunk.