wikiHow to Make a Pirate Treasure Chest

Three Parts:Making a Shoe Box Treasure ChestAdding Accents to Your ChestStocking Your Chest with Treasure

Aye, a pirates' life is for you! No matter if your pirate garb is for Halloween or a pirate themed event, every pirate needs a chest for his treasure. You can fashion your chest with booty from around the house and a little bit of craft savvy. When your mateys see you in your outfit with a treasure chest filled to the brim with chocolate coins in gold foil, your costume will be a step above other pirates at the party.

Part 1
Making a Shoe Box Treasure Chest

  1. Image titled Make a Pirate Treasure Chest Step 1
    Ready your workshop. All pirate craftsmen know the value of keeping a ship (and your home) ship-shape! You'll be painting a shoe box black to make it look like a more realistic treasure chest, so you might want to lay down some newspaper, a plastic sheet, or a disposable table cloth to prevent a mess that'll make you want to jump ship!
  2. Image titled Make a Pirate Treasure Chest Step 2
    Paint your shoe box brown. This will make your treasure chest that looks wooden, but you could also paint it black for a more sinister appearance. Now that your workshop is in order, take a paintbrush and your paint and cover all surfaces, inside and out, of your shoe box. Then allow your shoe box time to dry.[1][2]
    • Depending on your purposes, you might find it easier to apply a quick layer of spray paint to the outside and inside of your shoe box. However, keep in mind that some spray paint leaves behind a scent that might be unpleasant if you plan on carrying your chest around.
    • Some spray paints can be rather harsh. If you plan on using spray paint, have another shoe box on hand in case you notice your paint causes your box to fall apart.
  3. Image titled Make a Pirate Treasure Chest Step 3
    Create your designs while the box dries. You'll have some time to kill while your box dries, and a true pirate doesn't wait for time or tide! While waiting, take a pencil, paper, and scissors, and use these to draw and cut out a skull and crossbones. Then, using your scissors, cut out two long strips of your embossing foil and plenty of small circles. Your metal strips will vary in size depending on the size of your shoe box, but you might want to consider making these 1" (2.5 cm) thick and your circles about ½" (1.27 cm) to give each a more prominent appearance.[3][4]
    • You'll glue the strips of embossing foil around your treasure chest make it look like bands of metal are going around it. The small circles will be used around the edges to give the appearance of metal studs.
    • You may want to use a thicker kind of paper, like card stock, for your skull and crossbones. Glue can bleed through or discolor thinner paper, which will make your treasure chest look less realistic.[5]
  4. Image titled Make a Pirate Treasure Chest Step 4
    Glue your designs to your treasure chest. Now that the paint on your treasure chest is dry, you can add your designs. Use your glue to attach your skull and crossbones to the top of the lid or wherever you think best. Then you can glue your strips of embossing foil to either side of your skull and crossbones. Last but not least come your foil circles. Line the outside edges of your chest with these to make it look like metal studs are holding it together.[6]

Part 2
Adding Accents to Your Chest

  1. Image titled Make a Pirate Treasure Chest Step 5
    Give your chest a lock. With a piece of paper and some markers, you can draw a simple keyhole on a piece of paper and then glue that to your chest. In some cases, it might be easier to take your drawing tools and draw a lock right on your chest.
    • You could also use a real lock to give your chest some three dimensional pop. Take a hole punch or some other tool to make a hole in the lip of the top of your box where it closes, then attach your lock.
    • If you plan on using a real lock, you'll probably want to stick with smaller varieties. Large, heavy locks might cause your box to warp or could end up tearing the cardboard.
    • You can put the keys to a real lock on a large key ring and then make these part of your pirate costume. Then attach your keys to a part of your costume, like a belt loop.[7]
  2. Image titled Make a Pirate Treasure Chest Step 6
    Add personal touches for flair. If you are a fashionable pirate, you might want all landlubbers to know at a glance that your treasure chest is special. Rhinestones, glitter, or sequins fastened to your chest with glue can make even the outside of your chest appear like a work of art!
    • You may find, especially for larger accents like rhinestones and fake gems, that hot glue works best for fastening these to your chest. You don't want to lose rhinestones while showing off your treasure chest to your friends.[8]
  3. Image titled Make a Pirate Treasure Chest Step 7
    Experiment with different boxes. You never know what kind of box will serve you best as a treasure chest. You might even be able to create a more realistic looking chest with a few modifications! For example, you might be able to cut arching/rounded outer pieces for your box which you can then put together with glue or tape.
    • Thinner cardboard, like the kind used in cereal boxes, is ideal for a chest with a rounded top. Stiff or thick cardboard might not bend easily, but you can create a bowed shape for the top of your chest with thin cardboard.[9]

Part 3
Stocking Your Chest with Treasure

  1. Image titled Make a Pirate Treasure Chest Step 8
    Make a pirate map. Pirates are notorious for having mysterious maps that lead the way to buried treasure. X marks the spot! First, take your paper and draw a simple map. You may want to include local features or even a dotted line marking the path one should take to arrive at the hiding spot marked with an X. When you're finished drawing, distress your paper so that it looks old and weathered.
  2. Image titled Make a Pirate Treasure Chest Step 9
    Fill your chest with gold coins. Chocolate doubloons covered in gold foil work well, and these can be given out to your friends, too! This can be a good way of breaking the ice if you're a shy pirate. You might even add some variety to your horde of coins with some silver foiled chocolate doubloons.[10]
    • If you worry your appetite for chocolate coins will diminish your treasure stash before your pirate event is through, you can make or buy some inedible coins to ensure you have loot that lasts. Cut out circles from card stock and paint them gold and silver, or use shiny plastic coins from the dollar store.
  3. Image titled Make a Pirate Treasure Chest Step 10
    Add realistic looking precious stones. Paste jewelry from the dollar store is an affordable way of making you look like a profitable pirate.[11] What's more, you can make up creative stories about the gems and jewels found in your chest. For example, you might say...
    • "Aye, me mateys, I took these gems from the crown of queen Elizabeth herself. She sent her commandant with them to hide away on a desert isle, but now they're mine!"
  4. Image titled Make a Pirate Treasure Chest Step 11
    Include other pirate items. To give your pirate chest even more character, you can add other odds and ends. Aquarium accessories, like a miniature skull and crossbones, or doll accessories, like a tiny crown, can make your chest look bountiful. The seas are open and the skies are fair -- let the winds of your imagination help you stock your chest!
    • Play jewelry, like rings and necklaces, can also give the impression that your career as a pirate has been successful. Pearls and sea themed items are likely items a pirate would have in his chest.
    • Unwanted silverware, like an old fashioned goblet, would fit right in with your treasure. You might even be able to find one of these at an affordable cost at a flea market or dollar store.
    • Be careful you don't load your treasure chest up with too many heavy items! Remember that your pirate chest is only made of cardboard and if it breaks, your loot will be lost on the high seas.[12]


  • You could use your treasure chest as part of a scavenger hunt. Make some clues, or maybe make a cryptic pirate map for treasure hunters to follow. Then you can stock your chest with goody bags for everyone!

Things You'll Need

Making a Shoe Box Treasure Chest

  • Black/brown paint
  • Glue
  • Gold or silver embossing foil
  • Paintbrush
  • Scissors
  • Shoe box (with lid)
  • White paper

Adding Accents to Your Chest

  • Assorted boxes
  • Glue
  • Hot glue (optional)
  • Markers
  • Rhinestones/glitter/sequins (optional)
  • Simple lock and key (optional)

Stocking Your Chest with Treasure

  • Doll accessories (like a plastic crown/tiara; optional)
  • Fake jewelry (necklaces, rings, etc.)
  • Gold/silver foil chocolate coins
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Pirate themed items (cardboard cutlass, plastic skull, etc.)

Article Info

Categories: Kids' Crafts