It is painfully obvious that I am a collector of knick knacks and oddities. A couple years ago I finally decided to make a cabinet to display them all. Over the years I have outgrown my cabinet with all of my little treasures, especially with the tiny things that just don’t get displayed properly.

Many years ago, I picked up a vintage letterpress drawer on ebay. This was way before it became a “thing” and way before I turned into an antique hunting junkie. Either way, it has been used once before to put a lot of Reza’s small toys and now… well, I took it back and decided to give it a little life and this is what happened…

(click photo to view bigger)

So what do you need to make something like this? I will show you!

1 letterpress drawer
Several scraps of awesome paper (I used scrapbook paper from Halloween and vintage spelling pads)
Double stick tape
x-acto knife/scissors
flathead screwdriver, hammer, drill and mounting kit
Lots of awesome collectibles, tchotchkes and treasures.

I won’t lie, this is not a cheap endeavor because of all the magic that goes in it. A lot of it is years worth of collecting… and a drawer can run you anywhere from $40 and up, most of which I have seen in the $50-100 range depending where you get it.

This is what the drawer looked like before.

With the flathead, you want to dig up and remove all of the nails on the backing. It’s a pain in the ass but well worth it. Once all the nails are removed, you want to gently pry it apart. This is what it would look like.

If you got a particularly crusty antique on your hands, dust it off with a rag prior to continuing the project. Careful when handling it because the slots/partitions can come out/apart. My drawer had some slots that were very small, too many, so I pulled out some of the dividers to open up more space for larger items.

Set the frame aside and lay down the backing, front side up. This is the fun yet tedious part… take your papers and lay them across to map out where you would like to put them. The cool part is the back had the spaces kinda worn in so I could make better planning when it came to what papers I wanted where. Stick them down with double sided tape so you can reposition accordingly. You can glue if you want to but I didn’t in case I want to change the papers and the frame will hold them down anyway.

You with me up to this part? Cool. Pick up your frame and place over the backing just to see if everything is placed where you would like it, then remove once more. If you need to reposition and switch things up, now is the time.

Gently flip over your backing and cut off any trim or excess papers off the back and then reassemble the drawer.

I was lucky enough to get one that already had the mounting hardware on it. If yours doesn’t have some, some screws and picture frame wire would suffice. Mount on the wall! You will need to screw in some of the corners to the wall in order to keep it nicely anchored.

Then the fun part… fill with treasures and revel in the awesomenesss.

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2 Responses to DIY: a drawer of secrets and curiosities

  1. SF in Photos says:

    […] I just took turns without plans, ending up at Baker Beach. I collected a couple of nuggets for my letterpress drawer including this chunk of seaweed that ended up drying out really […]

  2. Steve says:

    I sell these trays for anyone interested.
    My Etsy shop is “thegreencoyote”

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