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How to Build a Cardboard Treasure Chest

Updated on April 27, 2015

A simple cardboard box can be magically transformed into a cardboard treasure chest with a few art supplies and some imagination. It can be as simple or as intricate as you like.

Cardboard Treasure Chest
Cardboard Treasure Chest

Cardboard Treasure Chest Design

Cardboard treasure chests can be made to look like the real thing. Art supply stores sell all sorts of contact paper with intricate designs that can be stuck on to the cardboard treasure chest. They can also be painted and drawn on to give them color. Extra items can be glued and taped to them providing texture and the look of authenticity.

Picking the Box for the Cardboard Treasure Chest

The size of your cardboard treasure chest depends on the size of the box you start with. It can be as small as a tissue paper box or as large as a refrigerator box. The best kinds of boxes to use are the ones with pull off lids. Boxes that hold reams of paper are perfect since they are sturdy and clean. If you want to use a box that has no lid or the kind that folds in from the sides, you will need two of the same sized box to make a single cardboard treasure chest. One will be the bottom of the chest while the other is the lid.

Cut the Cardboard Treasure Chest

If you are using a box with a pull off lid, make two cuts in the rim of the lid. Cut from the bottom edge to the top at two corners on one of the long sides. This should leave you with one of the long sides dangling from the top. This will be the hinge of your cardboard treasure chest lid. If you are using two identical boxes, cut around the base of one of the boxes so you have a shorter box. The height of it depends on how big you want the lid. Generally it should be between one half to one quarter the height of the bottom. Do not cut the rim of the lid if you are using two boxes to make the cardboard treasure chest.

Strengthen the Cardboard Treasure Chest

Use strong packing tape to add durability to your cardboard treasure chest. Tape all the corners and edges. Also reinforce the bottom so the treasure wont fall through. Pay particular attention to the part of the cardboard treasure chest lid that bends. This will get a lot of use, so must be strong. Add several layers of tape to the hinge in a criss cross pattern so the lid will not tear.

Decorate the Cardboard Treasure Chest

It is now time to make the cardboard treasure chest look like a treasure chest. You can decorate it with anything you like. The most impressive looking covering is decorated contact paper. This is available at art supply stores. It comes in a wide range of patterns including wood grain to make the cardboard treasure chest appear to be made of wood. Contact paper has a sticky side that adheres directly to the cardboard treasure chest. If you don't have contact paper you can use black or brown construction paper and stick it on with tape or glue. You can also paint the cardboard treasure chest. Start with a coat of wood colored brown. When that dries, paint irregular black lines all around to simulate wood grain. Decorate both the inside and the outside of the cardboard treasure chest base and lid.

Line the Edges of the Cardboard Treasure Chest

Use a different color contact paper or tape to line the edges of the cardboard treasure chest. A gold pattern with studs is a nice and authentic look. Stick the liner on both the inside and outside of the rims of both the base and the lid. Extend the liner 1/2 inch on both sides. If you don't have contact paper or tape, you can glue yellow construction paper around the rims. Draw the studs on the rims with a marker.

Attach the Lid of the Cardboard Treasure Chest

If you are using a box with a pull off lid, glue the dangling part of the rim to the inside of the cardboard treasure chest base. You may need to trim the sides of the dangling part of the rim so it fits nicely inside. The lid should lie comfortably on top of the base with the other three sides of the box top lid hanging over the outside of the base. When the glue dries, the lid will swing open and shut using the glued portion as a hinge. If you are using two boxes to create the cardboard treasure chest, cut an extra strip of cardboard from the box you made the lid out of. It should be the length of the long side of the box and twice as high as the height of the lid. Glue this extra strip to the inside of one of the long sides of the lid. Half of it should stick out below. Glue this portion to the inside of the cardboard treasure chest base. Bend the cardboard strip back and forth a few times so it acts like a hinge. When making a cardboard treasure chest out of two boxes, the lid will rest squarly on the base and not overlap the sides. Decorate the hinge strip the same way the rest of the cardboard treasure chest is decorated.

Securing the Lid of the Cardboard Treasure Chest

Hold the lid of the cardboard treasure chest so that it is slightly beyond a right angle to the base. The idea is to have it far enough back so that it wont slam shut if you let it go. Attach a piece of heavy twine to the middle of one of the sides of the base with staples and glue. Extend the twine up to the lid and cut it to a length that will hold the lid from falling all the way back. Attach the other end to the inside of the side of the lid.

Add Details to the Cardboard Treasure Chest

Personalize the cardboard treasure chest with whatever decorations appeal to you. Use stickers, construction paper or markers. Jewels, coins and shells can be glued to the outside. Use your imagination. A skull and crossbones is a nice touch if you want a pirate theme. A keyhole is also a popular design. Many children like to write their names on their cardboard treasure chests.

Add Handles to the Cardboard Treasure Chest

Hardware stores sell small brass handles that can be glued or taped onto the sides or top of a cardboard treasure chest. This is a nice feature if the contents of the chest is light. They will fall right off if the cardboard treasure chest becomes too heavy.

Add Treasure to the Cardboard Treasure Chest

Fill the cardboard treasure chest with whatever you like. These are a big hit at children's pirate themed parties. Put chocolate coins, costume jewelry and other party favors inside and let the kids take the cardboard treasure chest home.

© 2015 Discover the World

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