How to Make Toy Boxes

Cleaning up a child's room and keeping it clean can be one of the biggest challenges facing any parent. Having a sturdy toy box can be a huge help. However, a wooden toy box with sharp corners can also have potential for injury. This padded box can solve both problems. It can also double as a comfortable window seat.

Plan the dimensions of the toy box. Keep in mind that if the child is to be expected to put away his own toys, the lid should be small enough and light enough for him to open on his own. Use torsion lid-stay hinges to prevent the lid accidentally closing. Follow manufacturer directions for installation and make sure you use enough hinges to prevent accidents.

Cut four pieces of two inch by four inch lumber stock to make the outside rim of the base. The two end pieces should probably not be more than 24 inches long, keeping the box narrow enough for a child to reach to the back. Cut four matching pieces for the top rim of the box. Cut four interior support pieces for the corners, about 12 to 18 inches long. Consider the height and age of the child when cutting these pieces, especially if the box will double as a seat. Cut two centre braces the same length as the corner pieces; cut one centre brace for the bottom of the box, the same length as the end pieces.

Mitre the ends of the top and bottom framing pieces so that they fit together at a 45-degree angle, like a picture frame. The two inch sides will be bottom and top. Lay pieces on a level surface, wide side down, checking the angles to make sure they match correctly. Use a large square to check the corners to make sure each has the correct angle. Use joint fasteners (these look like ruffled crisps or julienne fries, except that they are metal and are sharp on one edge) to connect the corners. Add the cross brace, and use joint fasteners to secure it also. Repeat the process for the top rim, except do not insert a brace in the middle.

Cut a piece of 3/4 inch plywood that will fit exactly on the bottom rim. Cut four triangular pieces of 1/4 plywood, that will fit the corners of the bottom rim, and two rectangular pieces of 1/4 plywood to go across the joints on the cross-brace. On one side of the rim, apply carpenters glue, carefully fit the 3/4 plywood on top of it, matching the edges, and nail down using finishing nails. Turn over. Glue and nail the plywood triangles to each corner of the underside of the rim. Use the two rectangular pieces of scrap to go across the joints at the ends of the cross brace.

Turn the base assembly onto its side and using nails or very long wood screws, attach the upright corners and brace pieces. (If desired, two 2 inch by 4 inch pieces may be placed at the corners, using a butt joint, at right angles to each other. This would lend added security, but may not be needed for smaller boxes.) On each corner, (and in the middle if the box is long enough to need the support) attach the casters according to manufacturer's directions, making sure the screws go into the two inch by four inch wood, not just the plywood. Stand the top rim on edge against the uprights and nail it to them. Lock the casters, and stand the box upright.

Cut front, back and side pieces of plywood. Put carpenter's glue on the uprights where the plywood will touch, place the plywood against the two inch by four inch uprights and nail with finishing nails. Cut one piece of 3/4-inch plywood for the lid. Attach to one side of the rim, using the hinges.

Cut five pieces of high-loft quilt bat: one for each side, and one for the top of the box. Add about three inches on each side to the dimensions of the box for these pieces. Cut five pieces of flocking-backed vinyl table cloth, in similar size. Cut smaller squares of upholstery foam to pad the corners of the rim and lid. Tack on upholstery foam, using staples and a staple gun.

Carefully turn the box onto its front edge. Staple the bottom edge of the batting and the table cloth to the underside of the box, matching dimensions. Return the box to it casters. Bring the side panels of batting and table cloth up and over the rim of the toy box. Staple underneath the rim of the box. Repeat with the front. At the back, make the bat end at the rim so that it will not interfere with the operation of the lid. Staple along the edge of the box, making sure that batting and fabric are smooth. Slide the long ends of table cloth through the space between the lid and the top rim, and staple under the rim. At the corners of the box, lap one end of the batting and table cloth under the other, then tuck the edges of the top table cloth around the ends of the quilt bat as if hemming a garment and staple up the seam from bottom to top of the box.

Glue a sheet of batting to the top of the lid, making sure it wraps around the edges and over the corners. Slide the edges of the top table cloth piece through the space between top rim and the lid of the box, staple underneath. Pull the table cloth over the lid, to the front. Starting in the middle of the underside, staple the ends of the cloth to the underside of the lid. Pull the edges tight, and staple them as well, folding the corners as if making a bed.

Cut 3/4-inch strips of the 1/4-inch plywood. Hammer short, regular nails through the strip at about six inch intervals, leaving them stick out. Glue a strip of batting to each on the side where the nail heads are located, and wrap in a strip of table cloth scrap over all, and staple on the underside of the piece of wood. Nail the strip over the staples on each corner of the box.


It may be possible to use a cool temperature craft glue gun to aid in attaching the covering. Test the material first to see if it will melt.


For very young children, it may be a good idea to place a locking closure on the box and open it with adult supervision. Never let children play inside the toy box.

Things You'll Need

  • 3/4 inch plywood
  • 1/4 inch plywood
  • 2 inch by 4 inch boards
  • Circular or table saw
  • Mitre Box and Saw
  • Joint fasteners
  • 8 penny nails, regular
  • Finishing Nails
  • Screws
  • Hammer
  • Screw driver
  • Drill
  • 4 to 6 Lid-Stay Torsion Hinges
  • Locking Casters
  • High-loft quilt batting
  • Upholstery foam padding
  • Vinyl table cloth
  • Scissors
  • Staple Gun
  • Staples
  • Carpenter's glue
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About the Author

Daisy Peasblossom Fernchild has been writing for over 50 years. Her first online publication was a poem entitled "Safe," published in 2008. Her articles specialize in animals, handcrafts and sustainable living. Fernchild has a Bachelor of Science in education and a Master of Arts in library science.