One day I was at my in-laws house and noticed something that caught my attention. My mother-in-law was telling my 2 yr. old niece to put her toys away. However, all she had was a plastic bucket that was already cracked. I wasn’t very pleased in seeing this and knew right away my niece needed something more durable and preferably something that was easier to move around the house as opposed to dragging it.
I immediately said to myself I had to make her a new toy chest. I did keep in mind a couple of things on the project (which you’ll see as you go along). Knowing that it’s both my niece and her older brother (3 yrs. old) and the fact that Christmas was around the corner, MORE toys would be coming. Both size and durability would ultimately be the biggest factors for this project.
Majority of my work is utilizing scrap wood I have laying around. Unfortunately, for this project I didn’t have enough to cover, so Home Depot here I come!!! I decided on a box (style) toy chest with 2′ X 2′ (plywood) panels. I did find that Home Depot sells these panels cut to size, which I thought were perfect. The price per panel was almost $6 a sheet. So for 5 panels (base & 4 sides), that’s roughly $30. I figured I could cut my cost literally in half by purchasing the full 4′ X 8′ sheet and have Home Depot cut it in half. This way I can fit both panels in the car and finish cutting the rest at home.
Once I have the full sheet cut in half and got it back home, I brought out the tools to measure and cut. Using my jigsaw from the measurements I took I was able to make a total of 6 ea. 2′ X 2′ panels. Earlier I had stated that only 5 were needed, but I won’t complain for having a spare panel for later on!!!
In order to construct the box together I needed smaller pieces to act as a brace to connect the panels together. This is where all the scrap wood comes into play. I already had these scrap 2″ X 2″ pieces that I cut to the size of the panel(s) and used both wood glue and screws to connect.
With the box fully constructed I quickly notice that some additional add-ons would be needed. Some other scrap wood I had (not shown) were some 1″ X 2″ pieces I thought would be ideal to use as a trim on both the upper and lower part of the box, (which you’ll see later). I also felt that with the addition of the trim, in the event the box gets pushed up against a wall, the trim would help protect the box itself from any damage. Another ideal piece would be some wheels, since this has to be easily moved from one area to the next.
So I had this set of wheels I bought ($12) for a different project I never got around to building. I figured these would be perfect for this toy chest since more in likely it would never stay put in just one spot. They’re rated to hold up to 60 lbs., and with 4 total, it’s more than enough to support the weight of the box. Since the bottom plywood is so thin I needed something to drill into since the screws would go completely through the plywood. If you notice in the 2nd pic (lower right corner) I have already pre-drilled the holes for the wheels and used some scrap 2″ X 2″ for support. Once I have all 4 wheels screwed into place I wanted to cover the bottom of the box so those braces (for the wheels) wouldn’t be exposed. This is where that 6th panel as mentioned earlier came in handy.
I had to change out those 2″ X 2″ braces because the size ended up being too small. Being so small in size I ended up splitting the wood on these braces. I needed something wider so I went with some scrap 2″ X 4’s” and it made it much easier to drill into.
As I’m cutting the trim down to size I started to have a feeling that with the 1″ X 2″ being so thin that I wouldn’t have screws small enough to attach them to box without the screws going all the way through.
I had some spare plywood laying around so I figured it would be perfect for the backing of panels. After cutting them down to size I used wood glue and clamps to hold it to the inside part of the box. This will provide a second brace to the outside trim without the screws going all the way through. As you can see in the last pic, drilling a screw from the backside of the box won’t go completely through the trim.
Since the top of the trim is installed I needed to add the bottom trim. Due to time restraints I installed the bottom trim slightly different. Once I measured and cut the trim I used wood glue and screws in each of the corners to connect the pieces. The only downside to this were the screws were slightly visible. To completely hide the screws I had to use more wood glue and excess saw dust to cover. To view how this process is done please refer to the link below (on a different project) that shows details on using wood glue and saw dust to act as a filler.
The piece is finally constructed. Before I start to paint, I needed to do some testing to make sure it’s completely 100% durable and can move around around with ease. Also, can’t forget about the sanding. I started with 80 grit sandpaper just to get rid of all the splinters and smooth out all the rough edges since this will be mainly moved around by a couple of kids. I then went up to 120 grit for an even smoother finish and finished off with a 220 grit. Then of course used mineral spirits to wipe and clean the entire piece down prior to painting.
I really wanted this project to stand out while not getting too creative at the same time. From past experience I’ve noticed that a 2-tone really works well. I started out with just the panels using an Onyx black color for paint. Although it’s not shown I used painters tape to cover the top and bottom trim to avoid getting any paint on them.
For both the upper and lower trim I went ahead and used one of my personal favorite stains, the Minwax English Chestnut #233. Since I’m not a fan of really dark stains, I figured this would be the darkest I could go while the overall project is still able to stand out.
For an extra add-on I wanted to add some letters to this project. I picked these letters up for $1.50. ea. ($6 total). Of course these are optional, however, I wanted to make this project fun since it was for my niece and nephew. I used a can of white spray paint and glue to attach.
This type of wood is MDF for the letters, so the spray paint wasn’t very ideal to use. There were some blotches and small areas that didn’t soak up the paint. I would strongly recommend using regular paint as opposed to any spray paint.
After I glued the letters to the box, I added 2 coats of the polyurethane clear coat. I always prefer using this coating because it really helps protects the finish on those indoor projects. I also used 400 grit sandpaper to sand between coats for that extremely smooth finish.
The project is finally complete. Fortunately, the majority of the wood was scrap wood, with the exception of the original 4′ X 8′ sheet plus the letters. Overall, I only spent roughly $22. All the rest of the items needed for this project, ie. paint, stain, screws, etc. I already had in supply.
I’ve really enjoyed making this project because I know it will be put to good use and more importantly that this is for family. With the holiday season rapidly approaching this will be definitely be a much needed item.
Please feel free to comment below as I’m open to any/all suggestions.