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Giant "Wooden Letter Block" - Toy Box

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My 16 month old god daughter lives in a cute Victorian house in the city. While the space has all the modern conveniences it lacks one thing the parents of a little girl needs – Storage!

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!

Tools:
Mitre Saw
Cordless Drill
Rotary Sander
Clamps

Materials:
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)

Wood Glue
Varnish
Paint
Repositionable Transparent Adhesive Plastic letter sized sheets
 
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Step 1: The Design

Picture of The Design
plan2.jpg
plan3.jpg
2011-08-27 13.28.47.jpg
Before I made my plans I visited the lumber store to see what kind & size of wood panels were available. They had some great pine panels that were 18" X 36". This was perfect I could have them cut in half in the store are they would be the perfect size for a cube!  Now for planning…

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...
I love this! I'm at the painting step and I have a couple questions about that. Did you use oil or water based varnish? Did you stick the repositionable plastic right onto the wood? And did you roll, paint, or spray the stencils? Thanks so much - Jill
vanweb (author)  kentucky megachurch1 year ago
I used water based (latex) paint & varnish and I brished on everything. I varnished the whole piece first. Then stuck the plastic to the varnished wood.. then taped it all around with painters tape. I pressed the stencil down as hard as I could to make sure it was stuck... then I varnished over top of it to seal the edges. This helps stop paint from going under the stencil. Then I brushed the color on.

I did this in my condo.. if I had a workshop I may have sprayed it but it ended up looking really good with the thick coat of brushed on paint.

I would love to see your when it is finsihed please post a picture!
vanweb (author) 2 years ago
If you like this project check out my Vintage Tricycle Restoration: http://www.instructables.com/id/Vintage-Tricycle-Resurrection-with-Modern-Technolo/
TimS1242 years ago
Avoiding lid crushing is one of two key safety concerns with any toybox. Congrats on taking care of that one (though technically, I believe the spec requires that the lid not move at all when stopped at any position).

The other concern is suffocation if a child is playing inside with the lid closed. Common examples are hiding there during hide-n-seek or playing there when the lid drifts closed (due to the lid slowly closing since the flap-stay can't completely keep the lid up).

Air holes can often be designed into the top edges as a bit of styling (i.e.: it's not obvious they're air holes) or as through-handles (again, not obvious they're air holes but they solve the suffocation problem).

I tried finding the full Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) spec online but it appears to be copyrighted now by ASTM and they charge for it. Years ago, I had a printed copy free from the CPSC that covered all toy safety…very educational for anybody making things kids play with.
vanweb (author)  TimS1242 years ago
There is no latch on the lid that would lock the lid down. There is also a 3/16 inch gap along three edges of the lid (except the back where the piano hinge is located) the linear distance of the gap is 54" for a total air gap equivalent to a 2" high by 5" long hole. As you can see in the pictures there are pads in the front corners on both the lid and and on the main body of the box to keep the gap even if there is would be some weight on the top. With the size of box and amount of gap I cannot see how suffocation could happen. Also one of the reasons for using pine is the fact that it is a very light wood and just by standing the child would be able to push the lid up.
TimS124 vanweb2 years ago
Very cool! I didn't catch the thickness of the pads earlier. Perfect solution.

I wasn't worried about the lid latching, just closing without an air gap. You have it well handled. I hope it brings her years of happy play time! :-)
virus. TimS1242 years ago
If you wanted to keep your child inside of the box you would just have to place something heavy on top of it.
tinker2342 years ago
wow those are so cute i think i might make one for a puppet
artworker2 years ago
Lovely! How much will those hydrolic holders cost. Those look quite safe for a kid!
vanweb (author)  artworker2 years ago
They are under $20 - http://www.leevalley.com/en/hardware/page.aspx?p=40597&cat=3,41427 best thing for a toy box, especially the size that I built...
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