For thousands of years people have collected and used wooden chests or trunks for décor, functionality, and storage. As long as 3,000 years ago Egyptians coveted specialized wooden chests like that of Tutankhamen. The history of wooden chests can be seen dating back to Roman, British, Medieval times. Because of these wooden chest design, intricacy, metal work, inlaid jewels, and scared meaning many of the wooden chests from earlier times have been passed down from generation to generation.

Many of these ancient pieces of art were made of reclaimed wood which is why they have withstood the test of time.

The designs of these historical chests and trunks made of reclaimed wood were usually individualized for their intended use. For example, reclaimed wood chests made for traveling did not have legs or feet so they would sit firmly in the back of carts and wagons.  Reclaimed wood chests that were used for storage generally had flat lids so they could be stacked or double as seating. Some of the more ritualistic reclaimed wood chests had drawers to hold special items for ceremonies and celebrations.

Most of the ancient chests from thousands of years ago made of reclaimed wood have made their way to museums and curators who have time lined their lineage and identified their uses. For instance, Tutankhamen’s reclaimed wood chest held many of his prized jewels, coins, and burial sarcophagi.


The handing down of wooden chests made of reclaimed wood has carried on into modern day. For instance, many of us are familiar with “hope” chests that house significant familial items that are given to a woman when she gets married. Although there are not standard or essential items that make a hope chest here are some common items to consider putting in:

Wooden Chest Design Ideas and How To Use Them:

  • Linens
  • Blankets
  • Photos and scrapbooks
  • Letters
  • Recipes
  • Special Baby Items
  • Jewelry, hats, or scarfs

If your family has similar traditions or you are wanting to create some for future family members building your own wooden chest made of reclaimed wood is easy and very rewarding.

Because all reclaimed wood has already survived hundreds and hundreds of years, any species of wood will do. Oak and walnut have specifically been noted for their lasting qualities.

Starting your own “hope” chest is a great way to leave memories for later generations about their family and lineage.


If something so historical is not for you, then consider making a toy box out of reclaimed wood that could also easily be handed down to any child in your family. Many of today’s toy boxes made of reclaimed wood are adorned with amazing craftsmanship, hardware, and carvings making them a valued family heirloom.

Building a wooden chest out of reclaimed wood or purchasing one that is already constructed can be a handsome addition to your collection of personal items that can bring years of joy to yourself and others. Adding your history to the already abundant past of the reclaimed wood is the making for a spiritually energetic piece of art!