Secret Compartment Toy Box #2: Secret Compartment Toy Box Continued...

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Blog entry by John M posted 08-22-2009 07:13 PM 11219 reads 2 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Secret Compartment Toy Box Part 2 of Secret Compartment Toy Box series Part 3: More Progress »

First, thanks for all the great comments so far! I’ve only been here for a few hours and I already feel like I found the best place to explore woodworking. : )

So in my planning I figured that I would build a toy box and hide the secret compartment into the frame/trim area in the bottom. I would attach a drawer to one of the sides of the trim which would act as the drawer front.

The biggest issue I had with my planning was how to lock the thing. I thought of a few different designs but ended up settling on two locking pins that would look like decorative knobs (two of which would be pins and the other six around the box actually being decorative). To make sure that they would be able to move freely but not get dislodged when the box is moved around, I am using magnets to keep the pins in place when they are locked into the drawer and to make sure that the pins themselves can not be removed and therefore lost, I am making the pins out of three different sizes of dowel.


To start, the entire project is being made with pine. This was a cost factor more than anything. If I had my choice, I probably would have gone with maple…

I started out making the basics for the frame for the bottom of the box and the secret compartment itself.

Compartment base

Then I cut the supports that would also act as the pin guides for the end that would have the locking pins.
I cut the parts for the drawer and started to mock up the drawer as well as cut the guides and holes for the pin locking system.

Locking mechanism
The pin goes through the outer part of the frame and into the side of the drawer to lock it. When pulled back, the larger part of the pin hides in the support / guide and allows the drawer to move freely.

Frame edge

I used the router with an ogee bit to put a nice edge on the top of the boards for the frame before I stained them. I used a dark walnut coloured stain that will match the other accents and the other little added touch I’m putting on the box (more on that later).


Then glued up the frame / compartment (of course, leaving one side not glued since it will act as the front to the secret drawer! ; )

Gluing the frame

I glued up the drawer as well and now that the frame and compartment area was assembled, I started working on the true measurements and construction for the actual box that would be in the frame.

I cut the pieces for the box itself and then using a cutting board I had in the house that had a perfect sized handle, used the router with a flushcutting bearing bit (sorry if I called it something wrong) I duplicated this handle into the sides of the box and then used a 1/4” roundover bit to relieve the edges of the handles.

I went with these handles since for toy boxes they generally recommend that there be some airflow in the event a child gets stuck in the box. These handles cut through the sides will provide adequate airflow in such an event. (I had originally picked out some really nice hardware for the handles… but safety first!)

Then I glued up the box started drilling countersunk holes (three per side) to add screws. Will be finishing them off with plugs stained to match the accent stain.

Box glue up.

I then did a dry fit test to make sure that box actually fit inside the frame and that the secret drawer would still slide with the box in the frame (so that I’d left enough room from the supports)... Fit perfectly!

Great fit!

Now, at this point you might be seeing the problem that I figured out I now have.
I wanted to be able to either nail or screw from the side of the frame into the actual box but because of the ogee edge that I put on the frame and the depth that the box sits inside I can’t really do that very easily. I know there are some ways I could, but I’ve decided that I don’t want to risk it.

SO… I decided that the supports that I have (there are more than just the four corners that you’ve seen so far) that will be attached securely to the frame and that gluing those supports to the box should be enough. First, the box won’t be carried very often and when it is, the bulk of the weight will be in the box itself and not the frame. Second, I did some test glueups with scrap pieces of the same wood and applied a LOT of pull pressure to the pieces. The wood broke before the glue joint did. Then I glued where it broke and same thing happened. With the amount of surface gluing area I will have and the strength of the glue through my tests it should be fine.

Well, this has been quite a post and I actually have to finish this project still… so I’ll have to post more on this project in my next posting!

Thanks for reading!

-- John, Ontario, Canada

1 comment so far

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117062 posts in 3542 days

#1 posted 08-22-2009 08:43 PM

Pretty tricky nice progress. thanks for sharing

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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