Looking for information on how to make a toy box? See how I made Tootie’s modern black trimmed-out toy box.
How to Make a Toy Box
As the majority of people with full-time office jobs and an infant and a need for sleep at night, we are busy. (This is starting off like a sponsored Blue Apron post. IT’S NOT.) I occasionally give in and just buy stuff we need, but even though we’re busier than we were at this time last year, I still enjoy the self-satisfaction of making something.
So when Mike said he wanted to do a toy box build to store Tootie’s toys downstairs, I agreed. Even though I probably would have preferred to just buy one right now. The agreement was that we’d work off of existing plans to keep things simple and not come up with an original design that we custom-tailored to the space size and functionality wise.
So Mike snatched some free plans off a website, and we hit the road buying materials and getting ready. I wasn’t even planning on doing a post on the trunk since it was based off of another blogger’s build, and quite frankly, I didn’t have the energy to document this one with pics and whatnot.
Fast-forward to cutting and construction time. Something wasn’t right with the plans, which we found out only after cutting the more expensive oak plywood we’d gotten for the project. Blah. We needed to adjust course and make what Mike had already put together work with a minimal amount of waste. (We did have to call some of the oak a loss, though.)
So, Mike had already cut, sanded, and put together the pieces for the base of the trunk. This was just a simple process of 5 pieces of plywood glued and nailed together using a finish nailer: four side pieces and one bottom piece. to make a box.
We had to rework the top but were luckily able to do so using three large pieces of plywood that we attached together with pocket-hole screws to create one larger piece, which is the top. Life would have been easier with just one sheet of plywood for the top, but alas. Work with what you’ve got. At this point we decided to throw out the plans and wing it. That’s where the plans pick up below. But first…
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- 3/4″ plywood
- Pre-primed molding
- Hinges—go to a hardware store and buy a small pack of two or three
- Lid safety support—we used this one based on the weight rating
- 1/4″ plywood
- 2″ upholstery foam—similar here, and not a bad price
- Fabric—From Jo-Ann, and I can’t find it online 🙁
- Handheld staple gun
And here’s how to make a toy box.
Step 1: Measure and cut pieces, drill pocket holes
So at first my plan was to do two storage levels: one for a little containers that we’re beginning to collect stickers in, and one for a fabric storage cube to match the desk. Once I got this together with clamps to eyeball it, I decided to run with it. So I drilled pocket holes (placement in a bit) and assembled everything.
However, once I got it assembled and brought it upstairs, I realized that it would be too high for Ramona’s current height. I measured, but I kind of suck at visualizing things and understanding how everything is going to go together. Alas, I wasn’t about to lose this project, so I decided to run with just one storage spot. Let’s pick up there.
Step 1: Build out the box
Okay, so we’re picking up where I left off above—when we scrapped the plans. We were left with a box (roughly 37″ by 21″) and a lid (three pieces screwed together using pocket hole screws). Any old box will do.
I got to work priming. Reminder, oil-based primer is best for plywood because it doesn’t raise the grain like water-based plywood does. But man, that stuff smells. Absolutely work in a well-ventilated area with a mask on if you ever work with oil-based paints!
Somewhere around here, we purchased the same pre-primed 3″ (actual, 2.5″) craftsman-style molding we used on the DIY Murphy bed since I wanted it to match. I went to work one day and came home and Mike had attached all the molding. Much like the Murphy bed, the molding really cleaned up the look.
Step 2: Fill nail holes and paint
Next I filled nail holes and pocket holes and put on some paintable caulk to seal gaps and icky spots. I painted everything since I didn’t want to have to paint around hardware. Painting around the molding was annoying enough (tip: paint before you attach the damn molding).
For the paint, I used leftover Tricorn Black paint from the Murphy bed accent wall paint job. You can use any black paint. Tricorn Black is just the straight black paint from Sherwin-Williams.
Step 3: Attach the lid
Looking pretty good. Then we attached the lid using hinges. We also added a lid support rated for the appropriate weight to prevent the lid from slamming on little hands.
Step 4: Add a cushion
A cushion top was not part of the original plan, but we thought it’d be a nice addition to the space given the lack of seating. I used a piece of foam from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft. We glued it to a 1/4″ sheet of plywood cut down to the same size as the foam. I also drove a few VERY SHORT screws into the corners underneath so I didn’t have to wait for the glue to dry. These better be short or you’ll hurt someone’s butt.
Then I upholstered it by using my handheld staple gun to staple fabric over the foam and into the piece of plywood. We adhered the cushion to the top of the toy box using heavy-duty glue with some pressure applied from the top in the form of textbooks. 🙂 We let that sit overnight. Oh! We also added some of those floor protectors you put on the bottom of furniture to the bottom of the lid.
That’s that! What thinks you? Probably not exactly what I would have done had we done an original plan from scratch, but I like it! Let this serve as a lesson: Innocent mistakes happen, so check the plans before you begin to see if there’s anything that looks off. And tell the plan creator (nicely and privately—don’t put them on blast!).
Modern DIY Toy Box
As you can see, we really cleaned out the Melissa and Doug aisle at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft and on Amazon Prime day. (The power tools sound puzzle is a favorite. She also loves the blocks stacking train and the pounding bench with mallet.
The foam blocks were something I bought a while ago and used to stack them for her when she was a teeny girl. Now she mostly likes knocking them over with her feet. And the stack cups were so cheap and versatile that we bought two sets. Bath, pool, car, or just chillin out—for $3.99 for the set, they have already paid for themselves!