Monday, June 15, 2009

Make a Cedar-lined Wardrobe Trunk out of a Wine Crate

In an earlier post, I talked about the problems I ran into with the Silkstone Wardrobe Trunk and the ideas I came up with to solve them. This worked pretty well for a while but as my fashion collection grew, I ran into a new problem - the Silkstone wardrobe simply did not have enough hanging space. Not only that, but the width of the space was not enough for my "poofy dresses" and I cringed everytime I closed it, knowing that they were getting squished every which way.

That is when I thought that a wine crate would lend itself nicely to being a wardrobe trunk. Some of them already come with hinges and latches, eliminating half the work. At first I thought to line it with scrapbook paper but then decided to go with cedar veneer for several reasons.

Aromatic cedar gives off a scent that is a natural repellant of moths, silverfish, and other insects that cause damage to fabrics. It is resistant to bacteria and fungus. Wood in general also absorbs moisture yet allows contents to breathe. Given these properties, I thought a cedar-lined trunk would be the perfect place to store my growing vintage fashion collection. BUT, some websites have said that the oils from cedar are acidic and can cause fabric discoloration, so it's recommended that you hang a piece of acid-free tissue on either end of the pole to seperate your garments from the wood (which I haven't done yet. :-/ ) Cedar comes in red and white varieties. From what I understand, the red variety is more aromatic and is the type you'd want to pick if you are interested in it's bug repelling properties.

There are different types of cedar linings available. There are thin planks which are usually used to line a regular closet, and there are veneers. After determining the layout of my trunk, I decided to go with both - veneers for the side of the box and planks for the shelf. (Planks are expensive though - had I not already had some left over from my real closet, I probably would not have done the shelf. You can always go with other wood types for the shelf too.)

Wine crates also come in different shapes and sizes, and made from different woods or particle board. Some have rope handles, some have sliding tops instead of hinges and latches, etc. Most of the time they are inexpensive - I bought mine for $10 from eBay. Avoid shipping charges by trying to find one locally. I chose the particular box I got because of it's depth - it orignally held 6 wine bottles. But there are flatter ones that hold 3 bottles that would make great doll carriers. You might want to choose a box that has inserts oriented a certain way because the grooves can be used for shelves (once again, less work for you to do.)

Finally, choose your finishing touches. Woodworking stores sell decorative and functional hardware such as handles, corners, clamps, knobs, etc. I got my hardware as well as my veneer from Rockler Woodworking and Hardware.

Veneer can be applied two different ways - I used the simple method using wood glue to make an adhesive backing and an iron to adhere it. If you'd like to use the traditional method with contact cement, there are many places on the web that explain how to do it - I have not tried it myself. To make a trunk exactly like the one I did, you will need:

  • a wine crate with hinges and a latch
  • aromatic red cedar veneer
  • cedar closet liner plank
  • Titebond II wood glue
  • 3/16" wooden dowel
  • varnish
  • eight metal corners (match color with latch and hinges)
  • handle


  • disposable sponge brush or roller brush to apply glue
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • drill with 3/16" drill bit
  • screwdriver (for handle)
  • hammer (for corners)
  • blade to cut veneer with (I used a drywall blade but I think you can use an X-acto #11 blade too)
  • saw (to cut plank)
  • iron (you will most likely get glue on the iron - if you have a really nice iron, you might want to consider getting an old used one for crafts.)
  • sandpaper

1. Measure inside areas of the box and cut veneer to size. Label the back sides of the veneer so you don't forget where they go.

2. Measure width of box and add 2mm and cut dowel to that size. Varnish the dowel.

3. Cut cedar planks to fit grooves

4. Apply two coats of glue to the inside of the box AND on the back side of the veneer. Allow the first coat to dry fully. The second coat can be dry enough to be tacky to the touch to procede to the next step.

5. Set your iron setting to "Cotton". Align the veneer on the case and iron it until it adheres.

6. Measure and mark where you want the dowel. Drill only partway into the case, not all the way through. Carefully insert dowel into the holes - you may have to bend it slightly. You can apply wood glue if you'd like but I found that mine was pretty snug without it.

7. Sand edges of veneer until they are flush with the box.

8. Apply the rest of the hardware according their instructions.

And there you go! As you can see, I left the inside of the lid uncovered because I thought the text added character. But you can cover it veneer if you'd like, or put hooks to hang hats, belts, and purses, or glue a mirror on it - whatever you'd like!


er1ca k said...

Aaah....a separate "craft iron". I would have never thought of using a junky iron for gluing the veneers as the "good" iron is used rarely. LOL Great job! Very pro. I am adding this to my CADD list since I haven't found a suitable warerobe for the girls' Barbies.

khrome said...

Thanks, Ed!! Yeah, I found out the hard way about needing a dedicated craft iron. I used my ONLY iron and now it has burnt glue on it. I'm going to try to sand it off. But if I can't, at least I an excuse to buy a new one for my sewing projects and clothes now. heheh