DIY Simple Toy Box

Do you struggle with storage for kids as much as we do? It always seems like there’s not enough space to keep their things, or at least to keep their things in a somewhat organized way. Also, The Boy has a need to HAVE THINGS so it always feels like his room is overflowing. I’m not kidding. If you have something to get rid of, and you ask him if he wants it, the answer will always 100% be yes. A few years ago, we needed to replace a toy box/chest because the one we’d had for more years than I can count was looking pretty ratty. We decided we should make him a new one so it could fit the size area we had and well… we just like making things.

Unfortunately, we never actually finished the project

It’s built… in the most basic sense. It can store stuff in it, but the lid was never attached and we never added the hardware to complete it: hinges for the lid, handles for the sides, wheels, etc. And I realized that if we actually completed it, it would make moving some of his things easier. Whatever is in the box can just stay and go right in the moving truck. No packing, no extra boxes, no headaches. And what better time to complete a project than during a quarantine, right?

Now a lot of our stuff is packed up; we took a truck full of stuff to our new town and put them into a storage unit when we were going there for a weekend full of house hunting; including most of our tools. We did keep painting supplies, and other various repair tools that came in useful for this project. We let him pick all the finishing touches. He decided on white paint to match the IKEA furniture he has, but black hardware (for the outside) for some contrast and to match a few other black pieces he does have. I’ll add Home Depot links to everything below, we got everything there since it’s only about 8 minutes from the house.

We are amateur builders, but I’ll give you the best instructions I can. There are better toy box plans out there, but this one is really simple and I think it’s a great option if you’re new to woodworking.

Supplies

Tools Needed

-Table Saw, Circular Saw or Jig Saw (see note below)
-Screw driver or drill
-Putty knives
-Sanding block or sandpaper and electric sander
-Paint brush or paint roller and handle; something to hold the paint (paper plate?)

*You can get your local store to cut the plywood for you. They may charge a cut fee, but it means you don’t need that equipment yourself and you can transport it home easier. The downside of this is that their machines never seem to be calibrated correctly: we had them cut the pieces for this and everything is crooked by about 1/4″. This means that nothing is lined up correctly and we had to do a lot more patching than I’d like.

Cut List

I found this awesome website that helps you figure out your optimal cutting pattern. I input the cut list and the size of the plywood, plus added 1/2″ for loss where the blade cuts. I love seeing how much you’re able to use. With this build we used 60% of the plywood and will have 2 pieces left over: one 36″ x 3″ and one at 96″ x 11.5″. Those can be saved for other projects, though I really don’t know where our pieces got to…
You’ll need the following cuts:
Bottom, Front + Back : 3 pieces 36″ x 18″
Lid: 1 piece 36″ x 15″
Top Strip: 1 piece 36″ x 3″
Sides: 2 pieces 18″ x 16.5″

Instructions

Once you have everything cut, you can start assembling. You can also add wood glue along the joined edges for extra strength.
– Lay one of your 36×18 pieces down as the bottom. Measure in and mark 3/4″ at each corner, this will create a new “corner” where the flat brackets will attach. Screw them down, with the included screws, onto the bottom.
– Repeat on the back two inside edges of the Top Strip, set aside.
– Attach the Back and Sides to the Bottom. Place the Top Strip above them and screw in all the corner flat brackets.
– Attach the Front to the Bottom and then add the L shaped braces at the inner top edges where the front and sides meet, using the included screws.
– Use the last 2 L shaped braces to add extra support. We put them in the center back at top and bottom.

Now it’s time to use the wood filler and sand everything! We used a TON more than I thought we would need, luckily we were able to swap in some drywall spackle that we had on hand. There were a few spots that had gotten ripped because it’s been in use without being finished. We also covered each joint edge. Once that has dried, sand everything smooth and wipe it down with a damp cloth to remove any dust. It’s painting time!

You can choose to stain your toy box. The wood filler dries to a light wood color very similar to the plywood and is stainable.

Once you’ve painted and let it dry, add your hardware! Lay the lid down on top and add the hinges, using the included screws: we placed them 3″ from the outer edge. Do the same with the handles, measuring to make sure they’re level and in the same position. If you want to add caster wheels like we did, turn the entire box over and use the 1/2″ screws to install them at the corners – make sure they won’t run in to the screws you used for the braces!

You could also add a locking mechanism to the front, or add handles to the lid. Another change you could make is altering the Back to be taller than the front: you’ll also need to make the Top Strip or the Lid 3/4″ shorter to make up for that space.

LINKS

Full Sheet 3/4″ Plywood | Heavy Duty Corner Braces | L Shaped Corner Braces
3 1/2″ Flat Hinges | 5 3/4″ Handles | 2″ Caster Wheels
Wood Filler | Behr Paint and Primer | Cut List Optimizer

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