Paper Pirate Treasure Chest

Our youngest has his birthday party tomorrow and we’ll be doing the typical party games: pass the parcel, pin the thing on the pirate (each kid puts something belonging to the pirate on to the drawn picture), a treasure hunt.  One of the things I make for the kids is a paper treasure chest.  They get to glue gem stones on to it and decorate it with glitter glue, and then can put in their loot (from the other games) to take home with them.

It’s a pretty simple design.  You can make two from a typical piece of cardstock.  Each one is 18.25″ x 14″ wide.  These are the dimensions for the box.  Once cut out, open up your scissors all the way and, with a straight rule, score along all of the lines so that the box folds together cleanly.  The sides have tabs that fold in for gluing against the front and back.  The tabs for the lid fold down, and you can cut out semicircles (2″ radius) to glue to the outsides of the side of the lid.

The metal bands around the paper are a silver- or gold-colored cardstock cut in strips (about 1″).  The fasteners are metal and are often called “brads” like the nail, but they’re just labeled “paper fasteners” in the local big box office supply store up here.  Take one end of the 1″ strip and fold it  over, into the box.  Then pinch the end inside the box and the rest of the strip outside, with the box between, and press a brad/fastener through all three layers.  You can then run the rest of the strip around the box and over the lid, pushing brads/fasteners in as you go.  I put a bit of glue on the bottom  since otherwise the strips were not attached there.

My math skills aren’t exceptional, so you may want to more accurately measure the arc of the 2″ semicircles (4″ x 3.14 = 12.52/2).  Also, if you want a smoother top, just make more scores, more closely together, on the lid.

I cut a small shape for the lock.  It is held in place on the lid with two brads.  I cut a small slit in the box and created a notch by cutting three sides of a box into the lower part of the low.  The resulting tab can be bent slightly and will go into the slit.  It isn’t terribly secure but will stop the lid from popping up.

The paper runs about a $1 a sheet, and the fasteners are about $3 a box of 100.  The killer on this project is the time it takes to cut it out and piece it together for each kid!

Paper Treasure Chest
Paper Treasure Chest
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David Whelan
I improve information access and lead information teams. My books on finding information and managing it and practicing law using cloud computing reflect my interest in information management, technology, law practice, and legal research. I've been a library director in Canada and the US, as well as directing the American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center. I speak and write frequently on information, technology, law library, and law practice issues.

7 Replies to “Paper Pirate Treasure Chest”

  1. Hey David – I’d love to make your treasure chest – but the dimensions are not accessible.

    1. Thanks for letting me know, Brenda. Not sure what happened to my original measurements but here’s an update. And great to see someone from Grinnell (my wife went to college there). Have fun with the treasure box. If you have any suggestions for improvement, I’d love to hear them.

  2. thanks for this little design 🙂 I have to make a pirate’s chest for a class game I am making and this really came in handy. Thanks to your little tutorial on how to draw it out I was able to make a small model of the game and soon I will be making a larger one that is to scale


  3. I found this really helpful, because I am making a game at school in English on the hobbit, and we didn’t know that to make for the cards, and I thought this would be ideal for containing the cards. Thanks a ton, hopefully I will be actually selling this game (for money) around Hereford (England). It’s called ‘Along The Dragons Tale’ so look out for it and please buy a copy. Thanks

    1. The game sounds great, Xristianos! I’m in Canada, but I’ll tell my family who live Hereford way to keep an eye out for your cards.

    1. I suppose you could trim it; I don’t recall having to.

      Scoring makes a mark without cutting through. Perhaps another term for it? Instead of folding card, which may buckle, I draw a line on it. Then I open my scissors and pull one blade along the line. Firmly but not too hard; you’re breaking the paper surface but not ripping through. The card will then fold nicely in the direction opposite to where you made the line.

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