Thursday, May 3, 2012

Build Your Own Toybox

Building your own toybox will save you money and will allow you to customize the size and shape that best suits your needs. The ones we build ended up costing around $35 each. Similar ones (but smaller) sell for around $100 each. We built 5 of them so I'd say it was well worth it to get the tools out and build it ourselves. It took us around 30 minutes to build each one. The painting is what took forever. :-)
Toy Box in Front

Having the right tools makes the job go so much faster with less frustration and mistakes. It took me years to come to this conclusion but I've finally realized that the man was right. (THAT HURT!) I've called him Tim the Toolman for years. It seems like every time we have a project, he needs a new tool for it. For this project and many others, one of the best tools he's bought has been his Paslode Finish Nailer. This tool is fast and it's fun to use!

Materials Needed For Toy Box
(3) 16X4 3/4" MDF
(2) 12X4 3/4" MDF
Hammer or Nailer
Wood Glue
Damp rag to wipe excess glue
Spackle or wood putty

If buying MDF somewhere that will cut them for you, you'll need (1) 12X4 stripped to be 8X4 and (1) 16X4 to be cut in 3 16X16 pieces. We cut our own since we have the right tools to do it and because we could measure before cutting as we went along.

1) Cut (1) 16X4 MDF board into 3 16X16 sections. Make sure they're as close to perfect matches as you can get. These will be the sides and the middle section.

2)  Now you need to measure your angles.
     *Bottom side -make a mark at 14" (In picture, closest to the shirt).
     *At the bottom corner (near his hand and ruler) measure 8" up from the bottom corner up the side and make a mark(near the corner of the square).  Draw a line from the first mark to the second mark.
     *Top side-make a mark at 11" starting from the same side you started the bottom side.  Draw a line from the top side to the 8" mark.

3)After verifying your measurements and that the angles are correct, cut the boards along the lines. We clamped all of them together most of the time and just cut through all 3 boards at one time so they would be even. I'm sure there are other ways to do it but that's just what worked for us. We did have to move the boards around to get them cut since we don't have the saw that would have been better suited for the job. :-) (I barely held him off on that purchase!) If you cut all three at once, make sure they stay together.
4) Glue and Nail (2) 16X4 pieces of MDF together perpendicular to each other. This forms the base and the back of the toy box. In this picture, the toy box is laying on its back. Glue and nail the two end pieces to the 16X4 pieces. Make sure it's all square and even. Make sure you have the sides the same as the picture before nailing. We glued them wrong once (oops).
5)Find the middle of the toy box and mark so you know where to put the middle section. Glue and nail the middle section so that it matches the sides. It's easier to find where to nail if you use the square to draw the line where the nails go. Make sure the middle section is square.
6) Glue and nail the 12X4 board to the top. It should fit over the back and side pieces pretty perfectly. You may need to cut the length a little or you can just make the overhang even on both sides. Just check it before you glue it. You might want to check the length of the 12X4 board while you're still in the store to make sure it isn't shorter than the 16X4 boards.

7) Now for the front panel. It should fit perfectly along the bottom and front edges. If it's a little bit off, don't worry about it. The main thing it needs to do is hold the toys in the box. If it's off and bothering you, you can wood putty or sand until it gets to where you want it. Paint hides many flaws. You'll notice that there is a hole on the sides at the bottom. Just fill it with spackle, wood putty or caulk. If you use real wood on this, you'll need to get a wider board so you have room to cut the angle needed to avoid that hole. Since it was all getting painted, it was less work to just fill it in instead of messing with another cut.
 8)Fill in the holes and sand. We used that pink spackle stuff. For the paint, we used a self-priming semi-gloss. It took 3 coats for complete coverage using a paintbrush. You may want to consider sanding between coats for a smoother finish.
I hope this tutorial was complete and helpful! If anything is unclear, please let me know so I can fix it! Don't forget about the cure time for the paint. I'd say just figure on a month and you should be good to go. You can test it with your fingernail. If the paint isn't super solid, think about waiting longer. My plan is to use the boxes to form a square so the kids can play in the middle of the square. It should make cleanup a breeze since they just have to sling toys in the right box. Since this will be in the middle of the room, I didn't want any high walls getting in the way. I'm considering making some cushions to go on top of these. I'll have to see if they want to use it for seating or for displaying their Lego creations. I'll update this when we get the area set up. I haven't painted all of the boxes yet so it's going to be a while. Happy Building! If you make modifications, please let me know! I'm always on the lookout for cool ideas!

 Still plenty of work to do in here but the play area is usable now!

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