An antique letterpress tray empty.

10 Letterpress Drawer Ideas

Originally contributed by • last updated 5/14/2021


If you've roamed around enough flea markets and antique shops, you're bound to stumble across vintage letterpress drawers. They're hard to resist, aren't they? They're made with the most luscious old wood that has stood the test of time.

They fit in beautifully with all decor styles from farmhouse to contemporary. And they're not just for displaying your great-grandma's thimble collection. Grab one. Then turn it into any one of a million things, from a functional jewelry holder to a pretty planter or stunning work of art for your wall.

Letterpress is an ancient form of printing that was invented in the 15h century by Johannes Gutenberg. Digital printing technologies eliminated letterpress printing in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Letterpress drawers, or trays, held the small letters and numbers in their small compartments. The letters and numbers were set on the bed of the printing press and inked over to create the printed page.


Letterpress Art Masterpiece

Letterpress drawers come in all sizes — from small to large. This small tray was transformed into an artistic three-dimensional collage with a cute house theme.

The artwork incorporates bits of paper (use leftover scraps of wallpaper, wrapping paper, or craft paper) cut to the size of some squares and glued in. Then small house ornaments were added.


DIY Letterpress Jewelry Organizer


If you have plenty of room in your closet, bathroom, or bedroom, find yourself a letterpress drawer to organize your jewelry. The boxes are just the right size for earrings, rings, or bangles. Find some tiny nails and cup hooks to add to each cubby. You'll never loose another earring when you're this organized.

This Instagramer kept her letterpress drawer untouched for a few years before turning into a wall-mounted jewelry box. The goal was to get as many items up off of surfaces and onto a vertical organizer as possible.


Vintage Letterpress Vertical Planter

Dukes and Duchesses

If you love mini-succulents, here's the perfect letterbox drawer idea. The blogger at Dukes and Duchesses decided to use her drawer to plant 2-inch succulents. The planter drawer is front and center on her mantel and leans up against the wall.

She lays the box down to water the plants to keep the moisture inside the box. How does she keep the dirt in each box? The dirt is packed in tightly. The dirt stays in place better once the plants root more.


Turning Letterpress Drawers Into Coffee Tables


One of the most popular letterpress drawer ideas created by upcyclers is a coffee table. Though there are many versions of this project, it can be relatively simple to make. Build a base for the drawer, add hairpin legs, and get a glass top to cover the tray.

Some models have a glass top that lifts on a hinge. Other tables, such as this one, are built so you can slide the letterpress drawer in and out of the tabletop. That way you can change or add to whatever collection you're showcasing in your table.

Hairpin legs were commonly used on mid-century modern furnishings. They were favored because they are plain, sleek, and stylish.


Antique Letterpress Turned Rubber Stamp Collection Storage

This huge letterpress drawer displays this Instagramer's collection of decorative rubber stamps. It's a perfect display case for craft items. The openings are perfect to store spools of thread, small boxes of buttons, and tiny glass vials of beads. 

Don't relegate a letterpress drawer to craft rooms only. If you have a child who loves to collect miniature toys, a newly painted letterpress drawer is the perfect storage solution.


Wall Display Case for Sea Glass Enthusiasts

One brilliant letterpress drawer idea is to use it to display small items where color matters. Stunning collections of sea glass in beautiful colors, from azure blue to green and white are showcased beautifully on a dark wood letterpress tray.

Add small bits of double-sided tape, or hot glue if you want a bit more permanence--to each stone to keep it in place so you can hang your collection vertically on the wall.


Letterpress Drawers — Cheap Canvas For Paint

This letterpress drawer idea is one of the most original we've spotted! Instead of filling each square with something three-dimensional, each spot is painted instead.

The ombre effect creates a one-of-a-kind piece of art. If someone ever wants to use the drawer to showcase a collection, it's all set to go with a finished color scheme.


Letterpress Drawer Organizer For Essential Oils

Letterpress drawers are used to store and display everything from spice jars to small craft paint jars to essential oil jars, like the tray shows here.

The owner of this tray owns a small essential oil business and this idea keeps her well-organized and color-coded.


Letterpress Drawer Repurposed As A Shell Display


Do you love to collect shells but they end up dusty at the bottom of a basket or box? Dust them off and proudly — and neatly — display them in a letterpress drawer.

Upcycle the drawer by painting the wood a coastal blue color. It'll make the perfect storage backdrop for pretty white or beige shells. Use a dab of hot glue to set the shells in place.


From Trash To Treasure — Old Letterpress Drawer Turned Into Photo Frame

Jennifer Hignite

What else could a photographer and scrapbook enthusiast do but turn her vintage letterpress drawer into a massive photo collage frame?

She was able to use snippets of photos that couldn't fit in or visually disappeared in a scrapbook or album. Instead, she takes advantage of each square to give every photo a home.