WEEKEND DIY: Vintage trunk coffee table

To date, this is my favourite DIY and I am really excited to share it here today! This project has been 2 years in the making. I knew I wanted a new coffee table and envisioned the design a lot time ago, but finding the perfect trunk proved to be a lot harder than expected.

thedemuremuse.com Steampunk Coffee Table DIY

This trunk is a beaut, isn’t she? My criteria for the perfect trunk was that it had to be under $80 (this was actually quite hard, especially since antique stores with the most beautiful trunks started at $100), had all the original markings (many that I came across over the years had been repainted), and the inside didn’t smell like mothballs. Was I being too picky? Maybe. Holding out for the perfect trunk was worth the wait, though! These were photos that I snapped at Goodwill when we walked by the trunk the first time:

steampunk trunk goodwill

The most immaculate conditioned and beautifully designed piece at only $35?!? YES, I’LL TAKE IT! This trunk belonged to a senior lieutenant and is addressed from being shipped in October 1960 from California to Brooklyn. Prior to seeing this gem, I had never encountered another trunk with the shipping details stenciled directly onto the surfaces (always just a sticker), so it felt like striking gold when this was uncovered in the furniture section of the biggest Goodwill in Seattle!

Supplies for this project
vintage trunk (thrifted from Goodwill for $35)
4 x 6″ raw steel hairpin legs (bought these exact ones)
12 x 5/16″ washers
12 x M6 size screws
12 x M6 size nuts
power drill + phillip-head attachment

Instructions for assembly
1. Before starting anything, wipe the trunk down. Make sure to get those corners on the inside really good! (I found some broken glass in mine :/ yikes!)
2. Take one of the hairpin legs, square it about 1/2″ from the corners of the bottom of the trunk. Mark the screw holes on the trunk with a Sharpie. Repeat this for all 4 corners.
3. With the corresponding drill bit size for the M6 screws, drill a hole into each of the marked spots from step #2.
4. Align the hairpin legs to match the holes, and carefully slide a washer between the hairpin leg and the trunk before putting the screw through each hole. Do this for all of the hairpin legs.
5. Turn the trunk right-side-up and tighten the nuts onto each of the ends of the screws.


This project took about 2 hours from start to finish to complete, and the final table is beautiful! I’m so glad that I waited it out for the perfect trunk! :)

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  • That looks so cool! I love a good trunk. I have my grandma’s in my apartment. She used it to ship her stuff from Missouri when she moved to Washington when she was young!

    • That is amazing! I really wish I got a chance to claim one of my grandparents’ trunks before they moved out of their home a few years ago. It’s so lovely to have a piece of the family heritage to share the stories :)

  • We used trunks like this as coffee tables (and actually all tables) in the living room growing up. I like the idea of putting metal feet on them.

    • That is awesome! How tall are your trunks? My issue is that the trunk I bought is only about 12″ tall, so it was a bit tough to try to use it as a table without adding the extra 6″ tall legs.