How to Make Wooden Toy Boxes

toys image by Alexander Petrari from

A wooden toy box provides useful storage and enhanced household safety with the removal of toys left on floors and stairs. It also provides an aesthetic keepsake for a child for years to come. Building your own wooden toy box saves money on the retail cost of the items and allows you to customise the design for the exact needs of the child and your household's space.

Plan the design of the wooden toy boxes by asking and answering relevant sizing, site, material, quantity and child-specific requirement questions. Determine the size by looking at the available spaces in the household, and use a measuring tape to measure available corner spaces, spaces between furniture, and extra unused spaces such as under beds.

Cost out your materials for the project to determine the type of wood you buy. If you make a number of large toy boxes, it is cheaper to buy softwood rather than hardwood. Decide on the type of finish you want because if you paint the boxes rather than staining the wood then you can use a cheaper medium density fiberboard (MDF) to bring down the cost.

Research the style of toy boxes you want to build by looking on the Internet or checking out children's furniture stores to give you ideas. Decide upon the opening mechanism of the boxes, such as piano hinges down the length of the lid, or a hinge and chain mechanism that opens the box to a predetermined distance.

Draw a building design plan of each wooden toy box on a piece of paper with a pencil so that you know the exact measurements for each component, and this makes it easy to refer back to when you prepare and build the box.

Cut the base to 2 feet 10 inches by 1 foot 10 inches. Cut the sides to 2 feet by 1 foot 10 inches.

Cut the front and back to 2 feet by 2 feet 10 inches. Cut the lid to 3 feet by 1 foot 10-1/2 inches. Cut four 2-foot strips of wood from the 1-1/2-by-1-1/2 inch lumber. These are the pieces for a 3-foot long by 2-foot high toy box.

Draw a bead of glue along one side of a 2-foot wood strip. Affix the piece to one edge of the back piece.

Use 2-inch wood screws and an electric screwdriver, and drive a screw into the back piece 1/2-inch in from the side edge and 1/2-inch in from the top edge. Screw from the front face toward the inside face to a depth of 3/4 inch. Fasten a screw 1/2-inch in and 1/2-inch up from the bottom edge of the back piece, and fasten a two screws at equal intervals 1/2-inch in from the side edge.

Place the glued surface of the wood strip against the inside side edge of the back piece and align the lengths together. Continue to fasten the screws through the back piece and into the wood strip. Repeat this procedure with the second wood strip and fasten it to the other side edge of the back piece. Repeat this procedure for both wood strips on the front piece.

Run a line of wood glue along the side facing surface of a wood strip and position the side piece against it. Align the side so that the edge is flush with the back piece, and fasten it to the wood strip using the same method as before.

Apply glue to the wood strip on the side edge surface of the front piece that aligns to the installed side piece. Position the front piece so that it aligns flush with the side piece edge and fasten the side piece to the wood strip using the same procedure as before. Repeat the process for the other side piece.

Turn the box over and apply glue to the bottom surface of each wood strip. Center the inside face of the base piece onto the box, and fasten through the base and into the wood strips using 1 1/2 wood screws. Fasten the base to the box along the edges at 6-inch intervals inset by 1/2-inch from the edge.

Fit piano hinges along the inside edge of the top piece length, insetting the first and last hinge from the lid overhang so that they will fit inside the back piece of the box, and fasten with 1/2-inch wood screws. Lay the box on its back piece and align the piano hinges up to the inside edge of the top of the back piece, and fasten the hinges to the back piece with 1/2-inch wood screws.

Choose the right finishing material for each wooden toy box. Use non-toxic water-based stains, paints and varnishes because these are child friendly and do not contain solvents. Decide whether to personalise the toy boxes by painting the child's name on individual boxes or stencilling a picture of their favourite cartoon character or attaching family photographs.

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