DIY Pirate Treasure Chest

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Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.  It’s a guarantee you will find yourself humming this classic pirate song when you make this really awesome DIY pirate treasure chest.

We recently set up an amazing treasure hunt for our little’s pirate birthday.  At the end of the hunt, I had planned on a pirate treasure chest full of some special birthday loot.

Unfortunately, most of the pre-made treasure chests that I found were too small.

Now, you might be thinking, what kind of birthday loot wouldn’t fit into a regular sized treasure chest?  In our case the birthday loot was a wooden marble maze (affiliate).  And most of you know my mantra by now.  When you can’t find it, make it. 

But if making your own pirate treasure chest wasn’t in your birthday plans, you can find an assortment of treasure chest options to buy.  From a genuine leather pirate treasure chest (affiliate) to one with real working locks (affiliate), there are lots of choices if you are a planner in a hurry.


Before purchasing any treasure chest, though, make sure to check the dimensions.  During my search, I found that many of the pre-made treasure chests were pretty small.  And you will be pretty disappointed if you discover on birthday morning that your chosen loot doesn’t fit into the treasure chest.

So if you have a larger treasure, it might be better to make your own treasure chest.


Also, keep in mind that your treasure chest doesn’t just have to hold the loot at the end of a treasure hunt.  You can use it as a gift box, dress up prop or creative storage container.

Ready to create your DIY treasure chest?  Check out the tutorial below to make your very own pirate treasure chest.

You Will Need:

Empty Sturdy Cardboard Box

Thick Masking Tape (affiliate)


Permanent Marker

Dark Brown Spray Paint (affiliate)I used Rustoleum Espresso 2X

Exacto Knife


1. To start your DIY pirate treasure chest, decide on your treasure.  The size of your treasure will determine the cardboard box that you use.  Depending on how often you plan to do treasure hunts, you might also want to create a treasure chest that you can use multiple times for different hunts.  By choosing a box that’s a little bigger, you can fit large and small loots.

For an authentic pirate treasure chest, you will need a rectangular shaped box.  We found this cardboard box in the box remnants in the garage. It was super sturdy and classified to pack books for moving.

If you decide to purchase a cardboard box for this project, you can do so at your local home improvement store.  Try to choose one that is marked to carry something heavy and isn’t too large.

2.  After you select a box, tape up the seams with thick masking tape.

3.  Time to make the lid.  Mark off three sides of the top section of the box about 3 inches down.  It’s important to draw a super straight line using a ruler.  If your line is a bit off, your lid will look a little lopsided after you make the cuts.

Cut along three of the sides (not all four) creating a hinge on the back side of the box.  This will allow your lid to flap open like the top of a chest.

4.  Carve out a small slit underneath the bottom portion of the treasure chest.  This will be the key hole.

5.  Next, wrap masking tape around the entire treasure chest in horizontal lines.  The lid should be wrapped separately so your box can still open and close.  This pattern gives the treasure chest the look of wood when it’s painted.  The tape also creates a worn texture so your treasure chest looks like it’s been at lost at sea or buried in sand for a long time.

6.  After you cover the box with masking tape, it’s time to paint.  I used a dark brown spray paint.  You can also hand paint the box if you prefer.

Set up a well ventilated area for painting.  Coat the outside with brown paint.  You might have to cover with multiple coats of paint if the masking tape layer shines through.

Let your DIY treasure chest dry completely before using.

Once dry, start planning your treasure hunt.  Fill with the loot of your choice and hide somewhere to find.  Or use as a fun gift box for a birthday, graduation or even holiday present.


Celebrating a pirate birthday party?  Check out these new pirate party designs in our shop.  And don’t forget to practice your “Arghhh”!

Happy Celebrating,

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