I had this great little wooden box with a hinged lid and clasp that I received as a promo from Disney for one of its movies. It was a great box, but it I found it laying on a shelf waiting for a purpose. I decided to use it for this How to Paint a Wood Box tutorial because if it didn’t turn out, I could toss it without guilt.
In my rush to transform the box, I didn’t apply a base coat of paint before decoupaging like I should have. I had white paint on order, but it wouldn’t arrive for 2 days and I needed a project to keep me out of trouble. I made the choice to move ahead with the makeover instead of waiting for the paint. It’s a decision I’ve regretted almost as soon as the first layer of decoupage dried. .
Even with the faux pas caused by my eagerness, I still love the makeover. It took just a few bits of paper, some decoupage, paint, sandpaper, and a craft odds and ends I had on hand, many leftover from other craft projects I’ve finished or am working on, so it cost me nothing to make it.
This makeover is part of a series of inexpensive and easy-to-make crafts for teens, tween, and adults that we hope will help you find some inspiration to create your own crafts!
How to Paint a Wood Box – Decoupage Craft Makeover
- Wood box with hing and clasp (re-purposed or purchased – Darice 9151-58 Rectangle Wood Box, 8-1/4-Inch or Darice 9180-14 Unfinished Wood Purse Box, 7.25 by 7.25-Inch)
- Sandpaper – 300/1000 grit
- Decoupage Paper (wrapping paper, scrapbook paper, note cards, etc)
- Decoupage Paste (matte and glitter)
- Acrylic Paint and 1″ paint brushe
- Chipboard Cutouts, 3D Stickers, and Stick on Rhinestones
- Craft Sticks
- Tacky Glue
- Scissors and/or Deckle Edger
- Tintable Antique Medium
- Tack Cloth
Steps to Re-Purpose or Paint a Wooden Box
How to Paint a Wood Box – Step 1:
Lightly sand the entire box with 300 grit sandpaper. Remove the hardware if you’re worried about painting it (in this case, I left the hardware in place because I wanted to be sure that the build up of paper and paint didn’t prevent the box from closing properly).
How to Paint a Wood Box – Step 2: Decopauging
Tear, cut, or deckle the paper you’ll be using to decoupage. I happened to purchase Plaid 24874 Mod Podge Scrapbooking Papers, Summer Crush because I liked the pattern. After using it, I would definitely base coat with ivory paint next time because the paper became translucent when applying to the box. That was my mistake. I prefer scrapbook paper – the quality is better and base coating isn’t necessary.
I used my Fiskars Deckle Paper Tear Edger to create uneven edges (It’s also used in card making). You can achieve the same effect by dipping the paper in water for about 30 seconds and then roughly tearing it apart; the Deckle Paper Edger is just cleaner.
I cut, tore, and used the Deckle Edger to create random sizes of paper from the sheets I purchased and set them aside. I used Plaid Martha Stewart Decoupage Formula, Matte Finish to adhere the paper to the box. Martha Stewart’s brand is my favorite and far superior to the homemade white glue substitute so many use. It dries quickly, is non-sticky when dry, and comes in a variety of finishes. I also love it because I can layer the different finishes together to get the desired effect. Always roll the decoupage finish to mix instead of shaking.
Using a standard 1″ paint brush, I brushed the top of the box with the decoupage glue and then started adding paper being sure that it overlapped the paper already there and under the lid. I used the deckle edge to work around the hardware (see not above about hardware).
I made sure to mix the decoupage paper patterns up so that they were evenly represented throughout the top.
I wanted to create a smooth, clean line along the lid so I paid special attention to adhering it well and by using the wooden handle of my brush, I was able to crease the paper against the edge of the box. Then I carried the paper to the underside.
I could have filled in the logo on the top of the box with filler, but I new I’d be adding a decoration so I didn’t bother. You can see how the decoupage and paper filled in so you can still see the movie’s logo. I did three coats of Plaid Martha Stewart Decoupage Formula, Matte Finish, allowing it to dry completely between coats. Before applying each coat I sanded the decoupaged area lightly with 3M Wet or dry Sandpaper (1000 grit) and then wiped it down with a 3M All Purpose Tack Cloth to remove the sanding debris.
How to Paint a Wood Box- Step 3: Painting
After the decoupaging was completely dry, I painted the bottom of the box with Martha Stewart Acrylic Satin Paint, in Pool (a pale teal) which is one of my favorite colors. I painted the inside in Martha Stewart Acrylic Metallic Paint, in Sterling silver. I could have filled the engraving on the inside of the box with filler, but again, I had plans for this area that would cover it.
How to Paint a Wood Box- Step 4: Creating a Focus Feature
I used two chipboard cutout flowers from a Mod Podge Podgeable Chipboard Shapes package. First I base coated them with the same color as the wooden box base (Martha Stewart Acrylic Satin Paint, Pool) then I decoupaged the top flower with my favorite of the three papers. Next I mixed a little Martha Stewart Acrylic Satin Paint, in Pond (a deep teal) with a few drops of Martha Stewart Tintable Antique Effect.
I used the tinted paint to highlight the edges of the flowers – both the top and bottom and added a small round spot in the middle of the top one. Next added clear adhesive rhinestones to highlight the petals and add a little bling.
I used Aleene’s Quick Dry Tacky Glue (love this stuff) to adhere the two flowers together, offsetting the top to allow the bottom petals to show.
Once the two flowers were adhered, I used Aleene’s Quick Dry Tacky Glue again to adhere the entire applique to the center of the box and allowed it to dry. The flower covered the text on the top beautifully.
I did one last coat of decoupage but this time I used Plaid Martha Stewart Decoupage Formula, in Glitter Finish over the decoupage paper and the silver paint on the inside of the box to give both just a little sparkle. The effect is stunning (sorry, it doesn’t show up well in photos but it adds an iridescent glitter effect. I like the light effect of the 4 layers of matte and 1 glitter – all glitter wouldn’t have been as subtle.
I used Tacky Glue to place sticker from a Paper House 3D Stickers, Birds to the inside of t he box to hide the engraving. Plus I thought it was cute and coordinated well with the paper. It was leftover from another project and can be found in the scrapbook section of craft stores.
How to Paint a Wood Box – Step 5: Finishing Touches
I should have been done, but I realized that for the purpose I intended to use this new decorator box for, dividers would be necessary. I decided to cut them from Chenille Kraft Natural Wood Craft Sticks (Jumbo Size, 6 x 3/4, Wood) by cutting off the half round ends then measuring the space and cutting them to fit with scissors. I painted them a coordinating blue (I realized later I should have made them silver) and then glue them in place with Tacky Glue.
Once the glue was dry, I touched up the paint and called it done! All along the way I made sure the box could still open and close (you can see I did some damage on the far right hand side of the box – I sanded it down and repainted it and cleaned the paint of the right hinge.
That’s it! The only time consuming part of the whole process is the drying time. I worked on some bird houses at the same time so that I wasn’t tempted to work on wet areas. You can use this method on just about any wooden surface. Just a little paint, glue, paper, and your imagination! This is a great craft to use up leftover supplies – bits and pieces of decor that can be combined to make something you love.
This is a great craft for teens and a fabulous gift for grandma. Fill it with handwritten notes from the family about why they love her. I promise, she’ll treasure it!
What do you have that needs a makeover?