The Finding Place

My daughter loves the show, “Tumble Leaf”. I thought it’d be a great way to both fun to bring her show to life and teach here about every day objects so I built her a “Finding Place”.

Building a real Finding Place was both fun and rewarding. Watching her face light up as she pulled something new out of the treasure chest every day was awesome. We had some frantic mornings just like when you forget to move the “Elf on the Shelf” because we occasionally we forgot to put something in there (read on for how to solve that problem).


  • Cheap pre-made treasure box
  • Wood stain marker (or a can of stain and a brush). #235 Cherry gave the look I was after
  • Glue
  • Wooden Dowel (3/8”)
  • Thin, flat wood strip (1/4” x 1/8”)
  • Paint (blue & gold)
  • Fuzzballs (for the barnacles)
  • Black sharpie
  • Thin, braided rope/twine
Materials Reference Images
Treasure box -before Treasure box (before) Stain marker Stain marker Krazy glue Krazy Glue
Barnacles Barnacles Turquoise & gold paint Turquoise & gold paint Thick string Thick string


1) Cut

  • (A) Cut the wooden dowel into 1/4” pieces.
    • You’ll want enough pieces to place all over the treasure box so it looks like its bolted together
    • Sand the top edges around to give it a hand-made beveled look
    • You’ll need about 40 of them.
    • Make extras because they sometimes come loose and roll to unreachable areas under your couch
  • (B) Cut the thin strips of wood into short pieces to look like reinforcements
    • If you use balsa it’s soft enough to just cut with scissors
    • Lay the strips out around the treasure chest to make sure the pieces fit together
    • The lid will need lots of small pieces
  • (C) Drill two holes on either side of the treasure box to create “handles” from string


Step 1 Reference Images
Cut the dowels My fine-toothed saw was MIA so I attacked it with this beast Cut the wood strips Snip snip Cut side holes I forgot to take a picture of the holes, but you can get the idea

2) Paint

  • (A) Stain the inside of the treasure chest
    • The marker takes longer than a brush or rag would, but it creates a interesting wood-grain effect.
  • (B) Paint the outside of the box
    • Be sure to take the metal latch off before painting
  • (C) Paint the thin wood strips gold
  • (D) Paint the dowel gold
    • You also need to paint the tops after we sand them
Step 2 Reference Images
Inside of the treasure chest before stain Inside of the treasure chest before stain Stain the inside of the treasure chestStain the inside of the treasure chest Remove the lock Remove the lock Paint the wood parts goldPaint the wood parts gold

3) Glue

  • (A) Layout the strips around the box
    • You don’t have to use this pattern. I played around until I found one I liked.
  • (B) Glue the painted wooded strips around the box
    • I used Krazy glue for everything because it dries fast & I was in a hurry. Clamping everything down and using wood glue would have required forethought
  • (C) Glue the knobs around the box
    • Don’t forget the sides too!
  • (D) Glue the top strips
    • It looked way cooler with the gold parts across the top too
Step 3 Reference Images
Gather all the wood parts ready to glue Gather all the wood parts ready to glue Glue the strips to the box Glue the strips to the box Glue the knobs on Glue the knobs on

4) Finishing Touches

  • (A) Thread some twine/string through the side holes to create handles.
    • Leave enough extra on the inside to tie knots so they don’t pop out
Step 4 Reference Images
Handles outsideHandles outside Handles insideHandles inside Done!Done! Party with Stick and tasty barnaclesParty with Stick and tasty barnacles