Secret Compartment Toy Box #3: More Progress

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Blog entry by John M posted 08-28-2009 06:54 AM 11727 reads 4 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Secret Compartment Toy Box Continued... Part 3 of Secret Compartment Toy Box series no next part

Time to make the lid.

Easy enough, I made it overlap about a half inch on each side (mostly dictated based on the size of the project panels that I used) and 1.5” on the front for the lifting of the lid.

I should comment here on the project panels issue. I bought the standard project pine panels for this project at Home Depot and I felt a bit guilty about it. I told my fiancee when I bought them that I felt like I was “cheating” and that buying the pre assembled panels like that made me feel like I couldn’t really say I built the whole thing. She convinced me that I was being a bit ridiculous (even though I explained that it was another chance for me to use my biscuit joiner) and that given the time frame that I had to make this project that I shouldn’t be such a stickler.

So that’s why I used them…

Setting up the lid

So after I cut the supports for the top I decided to taper them on the end so I taped them together with some painters tape and put them through the table saw at a 45degree so that they would both be exactly the same.

Routing the lid

I used the same router bit that I’d used on the trim (luckily the table was still setup exactly the same so I knew it would match) to put a finished edge on the lid.

Now it was time to move on to the real pain in the butt… the locking pins. The idea was that I would use three different size of dowel so that the fact it was a hidden pin would be concealed on the outside and also so that the pin could not be removed so that it could not be lost.

Locking Pin

So that is what I ended up with. It was difficult to line them up and thankfully the drill press made it a bit easier. I didn’t want to rely solely on glue for these pins so I made sure that I put a #6 screw through the center.


The screw went in from the large or “inside the box” side and the countersink was the perfect size for the rare earth magnet that I installed inside using the attraction to the screw as well as some gorilla CA glue. The idea is that the magnet would attract itself to the metal plates inside of the drawer so that the pins would stay nice and tight when locked.


So that is how the locking portion of the drawer looked with the hole that will allow the locking pin to lock it in place with the magnet attracting to the metal plate on the inside of the drawer.


So here is the overview of how it all fits together. If you look close you can see the dowel locking the drawer when the pin is in place.

Now, enough of the technical stuff. I decided that as a decoaration for the box that I would try my hand for the first time at intarsia. I had picked up a great pattern from Scrollsaw Magazine by Paul Meisel for an eagle intarsia that was supposed to be for a keepsake box but I figured I could use for the front of my toy box. To see the plan you can view it here.

Eagle Intarsia

Here’s what it looked like after I stained and assembled the pieces that I’d shaped and sanded after I cut them out with my dremel scrollsaw. I burned the eye in (after practicing on another scrap of wood of course!) and it was ready for gluing on to the box.

So, I stained the lid and the plugs for the screws and with that I was just about ready for my finaly assembly.

put the drawer into position with the pins locked and then lined up the piece of trim that formed the front of the drawer. I then drilled the holes that would be used to attach the other pieces of dowel that would be the “decorative” knobs around the trim / base (otherwise, why are those knobs there for the pins right?) and once that was attached, I was ready to assemble the box to the base.

So, I glued the box to the base and then I got it ready for finishing.
Here’s what it looked like when the box inspector (my doberman Max who wasn’t happy about wearing his cone but he’s been scratching too much and that’s a completely different story!) came by to check things out.

Box Inspector

The next entry will be the finished project (the 2nd coat of polyurethane is drying as I type this) and will have the eagle attached.

But here is how the drawer worked out after assembly

Secret Compartment
Open Compartment

Thanks for reading!


-- John, Ontario, Canada

9 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117126 posts in 3605 days

#1 posted 08-28-2009 06:58 AM

Super cool chest thanks for sharing

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View CaptainSkully's profile


1601 posts in 3586 days

#2 posted 08-28-2009 08:15 AM

Looks like the Dobie got put into the “cone of silence” for spying on your secret compartment toy box…

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View Dr_Unix's profile


49 posts in 4149 days

#3 posted 08-28-2009 09:37 AM

Very clever!

Though, it’s not a secret any longer. :-)

View ChrisN's profile


259 posts in 3801 days

#4 posted 08-28-2009 01:19 PM

Very Cool. Great box even without the secret!

-- 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 patron's profile


13609 posts in 3369 days

#5 posted 08-28-2009 01:40 PM

the secret is still secret ,
i haven’t told a soul , lll scouts honor .

he’s going to love it ,

i wonder how many friends
he wont show it to ?

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Innovator's profile


3584 posts in 3441 days

#6 posted 08-28-2009 08:06 PM

Nice pictorial of your progress. Looks great.

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

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4188 days

#7 posted 08-29-2009 03:00 PM

and I know what you mean about the cheating part—as soon as Rick helps me with something it is no longer an “I made it myself” project.

Secret drawer? What secret drawer?? I didn’t see any secret drawer… Nope. Not me… uh uh.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View John M's profile

John M

46 posts in 3227 days

#8 posted 09-01-2009 06:23 PM

Thanks for the comments everyone. I know that whether it’s woodworking or photography (my other expensive hobby) I always enjoy seeing the “behind the scenes” or “how I did it” pictures etc… since I find they really help not only to help me understand how it was done but often inspires my own ideas from what I read.

So I figured I’d best do the same thing!

-- John, Ontario, Canada

View JamesAZ's profile


11 posts in 2362 days

#9 posted 01-04-2012 07:42 AM

I viewed this post over a year ago; I still don’t get tired of going through it…
When I finish my Grandson’s Toy Box I’ll make sure I print a copy of this article for his secret compartment…
Not the same design but none the less, very exciting…
Thanks for inspiring so many… James
Maybe I’ll take a few picture to post…

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