So when they asked me to make them a toy box to hold her ever growing hoard of toys I searches the internet for inspiration. There were treasure trunks and foot lockers and combination toybox / seating benches… but none inspired me... I then saw some old wooden letter blocks and I thought that would be a great theme... make a giant letter block toy box with her initials on the sides!
3 x 18" X 36" X 3/4" Pine Panels
3 x 3" X 8' X 3/4" Select Pine Board
3 x 2" X 8' X 3/4" Select Pine Board
1 x 12' Quarter Round Molding
1 x Piano Hinge
2 x Fixed Castors
2 x Swivel Castors
1 x "Flap Stay" (from Lee Valley Tools)
Repositionable Transparent Adhesive Plastic letter sized sheets
Step 1: The Design
I wanted to make all of the screw holes hidden either on the inside or behind the "Framing". Since I do not have access to a table saw I would have to use butt joints for all of the joints. On the Blocks I remember as a child - one side would have a thick color border and the next would have a thin line of color. I figured I could use this to my advantage. If my front panel had a 3" trim around it then use 2" trim on the adjoining panel. The side panel would then have a 3/4" "border" along the sides where the front panel butted against it. On the top the lid would create another 3/4" border. By painting the 2" frame and leaving the 3/4" edge unpainted would create the thick color band around the panel. The attached diagrams should make this more understandable...
Step 2: The Build
Once home I attached the 4 sides together with staggered but joints, drilling pilot holes & countersinking then gluing and screwing them together 3 screws per edge (Figure 6).
Step 3: Trimming the Panels
Rotate the box 180 degrees and attach the trim on the other "A" panel repeating the same steps from side 1. Flip the box 90 degrees and attach the panel "B" trim using the same glue and screw method as above (figure 5). Flip one more time 180 degrees and attach the last panel trim for the main box.
Step 4: Top and Bottom
Cut the quarter round molding to line the edges around the bottom of the box and glue it in place. Also cut the molding and run it down the 4 inside corners up to 3/4" from the top. This will help support the weight of the bottom of the lid panel, hide the internal screw holes and also "round" the corners so little toys and crumbs do not get stuck and the toy box is easier to clean. Any screw holes not covered should be filled at this point with wood filler. At this time take your sander and give the complete box a good sanding, especially remember to smooth out the sharp corners. Make sure that the top will fit once the hinge is attached. I had to sand the front and back edge quite a bit so that it did not catch on the lip of the box.
Step 5: The Paint
I printed off the letters and symbols on letter size paper and placed them in a "Repositionable Transparent Adhesive Plastic" sleeve that I got at an office supply store. With a razor blade I cut out the outline of the letter and then placed it in the center of the first panel. I then taped off everywhere that I did not want painted. On Panel "A" only the inside lip of the trim would be painted. On panel "B" a 2" border and the inside lip is also painted. With the wood taped off paint a coat clear varnish over everything. This is an important trick as it will seal any gaps under the tape and stecil so that the paint will not bleed under, and if some paint does get under it is easily scraped off with a razor blade since it is on top of the varnish.
Once the varnish is dry paint the stencil and trim with a heavy bright paint. I actually used oil based rust paint as the colors were very rich and it was a very thick paint. On my box I used 4 colors Red, Blue, Green & Orange. I was going to use Yellow but could nonot find one that would stand out as much as I wanted on the natural pine box. Once the paint is dry remove the tape and the stencil and move on to the next panel.
Once every side is painted and dry paint the inside white with several thick coats, when the inside is dry varnish the whole box in 3-4 coats of clear varnish.
Step 6: The Hardware
Once the hinge is in place attach the "Flap Stay" to the side and the lid. The flap stay is an amazing device it allows the box to be easily opened BUT you can adjust it so that when you let go of the lid it comes down very slowly. I set it at maximum and it takes almost 10 minutes to fully close from full open. There is no way little fingers are going to be slammed in my box! If you want to manually push it closed it also closes very easily.
Screw the two fixed castor wheels on the back two blocks and the swivel castor wheels on the front.