Introduction: Toy Trunk & Bench
Here is a toy trunk that I built back in 2004 for the toys of my children. It can also be used as a bench. Probably, if built using some hardwood instead of pinewood, it could be used as an exterior garden trunk and bench.
You will also find enclosed a 3D representation of it, and the corresponding Freecad file. This 3D representation was created after the fact in 2015.
Why build it myself? For the fun of it :), and I could not find any large enough toy trunk to buy.
As for my other wood furniture projects, I tried to use as many similar planks to start with as possible, and let some of the main cutting work be done in the shop.
What you will need for this project is the following: ([amount] - thickness x width x length in mm)
- Sides:  18x460x600
For strength and look purposes, you could opt for thicker side panels.
- Cover:  18x460x1400
- Bottom:  18x380x1400
- Supports for the bottom plank:  18x18x1400
- Horizontal planks:  18x70x1400
- Vertical planks:  18x70x280 (up to maximum 300)
- Support planks under the trunk:  18x70x416
Better calculate and cut to the right length (bottom + thickness of front and side panels) at the end of the assembly.
- Decorative side panels made of MDF:  12x373x280 (up to maximum 300; same height as the vertical planks). The width of 373mm corresponds to (1400mm - (4x70mm))/3. Better calculate and cut to the right size at the end of the assembly.
- Internal corner reinforcements:  18x18x280 (up to maximum 300)
- Triangular (rectangular angle) wood sticks:  ~8x~8x280 (up to maximum 300; same height as the vertical planks)
These will serve to support the decorative side panels.
- 4 hinges
- 2 pneumatic hinges to slow down the closing of the trunk
- Lots of wooden studs (to assemble the planks)
I recommend a diameter of about maximum 1/2 of the thickness of the planks. So ~9mm here.
- Wood glue
- Tape measure
- Safety equipment !
Step 1: Cutting the Planks
The 2 side planks have a rounded top corners. I opted for a radius of 120mm.
The rounded handles in the side panels are cut 50mm from the top. They have a size of 40x140mm. Notice the ends are rounded. To draw this on the plank, trace 2 circles of 40mm diameter with their centers 100mm apart.
The top plank as 2 rectangular rounded cuts to prevent pinching fingers should someone open the trunck cover while holding the handles ! My cut sizes for these are 20x180mm. Slightly larger than the handles to make sure the width of that cut fully covers the handle when the cover is lifted.
Step 2: Assembling It All
All of the planks are assembled using 2 wood studs at their ends.
Lots of precise drilling to do !
- 8 holes is each of the 2 side planks
- 2 holes at each end of all the horizontal planks
- + 8 holes on 1 long side of all the horizontal planks, where the vertical planks will be inserted
- 2 holes at each end of all the vertical planks, to insert tin the vertical planks
As a starting point to drill at the right place, I recommend starting from the bottom of the side plank.
Remember that a support plank will come under the long plank so the long plank's bottom should be 18mm from the ground.
After all this drilling is done, you can assemble the side planks, horizontal planks and vertical planks.
As mentionned above, the bottom horizontal plank must be 1 plank thickness from the bottom/floor, as 2 support planks (18 mm thick) will come under for support and reinforcment.
Use wooden studs and wood glue.
Let dry and see the toy trunk take shape.
The next step is to glue the 2 supports for the bottom plank (18x18x1400).
Then the 4 corner reinforcments (18x18x280 up to maximum 300).
You can then place and glue the bottom of the trunk. This will rigidify the whole assembly.
You will just need to cut 18x18 corners in the angles matching the 4 corner reinforcments.
You can also put in place the 2 support planks under the trunk. Notice that they are aligned with the vertical planks of the side panels.
Time to place the decorative side panels.
I recommend to have them painted before placement.
The panels are placed level or slightly recessed (up to your visual preference) with the external face of the front and back of the toy trunk.
To fix them in place, a reinforcement triangular wood stick is glued left and right inside of the trunk. If the wood stick protrudes from the inside surface, it can be sanded/polished level with the surface.
Now, before placing the cover, is actually a good time to sand and polish the whole assembly, making sure all angles are well roundes and no splinters are left.
After sanding, polising and dedusting, the toy trunk and cover can be varnished. I used a water-based transparent vitrifying varnish that is also used for stairs. It is reasonably cheap and very resistant.
Almost finished. You can fix the cover using the 4 hinges. And then screw in place the 2 pneumatic hinges.
Ready ! A ton of toys have found a place to go !
Step 3: Finishing Touches
Put a cushion on top for comfort when used as a bench. I found this one in a garden shop.
For this project, I picked pine wood and blue color as this was meant to be a toy trunk.
A more sophisticated look can be achieved by using more noble woods of different colors: e.g. a dark wood for the sides and planks, and a light wood for the decorative panels and cover.
If used as a garden trunk and bench, I suggest to replace the bottom of the trunck by a grid or mesh (wooden of course) that will let water go through and ventilate the inside.