Introduction: How to Build a Toy Box

About: My name is Ryan Hirst and I am a keen home improvement and DIY project blogger.

With Christmas nearly upon us, we could be thinking about building a toy box in order to effectively kill two birds with one stone. For any parent some of the biggest challenges at Christmas include knowing what to put under the tree and also where will the toys you buy your children be stored? In this how to guide I intend to give you a detailed insight into how to build a toy box.

What you will need:

When it comes to building your toy box you need to know what you are going to need in order to make this project work. If you are looking for a paint grade finish then I would advise you probably use 18mm MDF or other wood sheet materials, however if it’s a stain grade you will be going for then A1 plywood will do a good job. Something also that you will need to use is matching hardwood trim boards, along with this using footer moulding is a good idea; this allows you to add detail to the edge of the boards.

The shopping list for a 800mm x 400mm x 400mm toy box:

• 4x Long rectangle pieces of your choice of material (we recommend 18mm MDF 800mm length x 400mm height)
• 2x Square Pieces (we recommend 18mm MDF 364mm length x 400mm height)
• 2x Toy Box Lid Stays 
• 4x Heavy Duty Castors (for feet) 
• 18x  4mm X 30mm Chipboard Screws
• 2x 95° Concealed Hinges – Screw On, Full Overlay 
• Large D Handle
The tools you will need:
• Tape Measure
• Measuring Square
• Pencil
• Screw driver (to match screws head)
• Drill
• 2.5mm drill piece
• 5mm drill piece
• 35mm hinge hole cutter drill piece
• Wood Glue
• Safety Glasses (when using drill)
• Hearing Protection (when using drill)

Building the box

After you have got all your tools and your shopping list if you haven’t already cut your wood to the size that you require using a tablesaw or circular saw, lay out all the pieces in front of you to start work – we find its best to think of the procedure like putting together flat pack furniture, lay it all out and put it together piece by piece.

Step 1: Step 1: Adding the Sides

First of all attach the three long rectangular pieces that will make up the bottom and the 2 sides. The way to do so is to place one of the long rectangular pieces flat on the as this will be the base of the box.
Next, place another piece on top of the base facing the same way, then put it right up to the edge fitting flush to the end. We now need to make some pilot holes for the screws, you’ll need a tape measure, your drill with a 2.5mm bit and your pencil. Measure in from one end on the side piece where you would like your pilot holes to be and mark with a pencil – I would suggest using 5 screws, if your length is 800mm, I would place one at 200mm, 400mm, and 600mm to fix the middle, and then 2 further fixing screws at 25mm in from each end – as both the sides and bottom are the same length you can measure the pilot holes the same for all 3 pieces.

Then measure the same distances on the bottom piece and mark pilot holes. Drill your pilot holes on the bottom piece all the way through and only drill a small entry pilot hole on the side piece. Add your wood glue along the side of the side piece, and you may want to ask for assistance as you then carefully push the side up against the bottom - wipe away any excess glue. Whilst holding the glued pieces in place, use your secure the pieces together using the pilot holes we pre drilled for the screws.
That is one side in place, now repeat this process on the other side of your toy box so we have the 2 largest sides and the bottom piece all in place and secure.

Step 2: Step 2: Adding the Ends

Next we need to measure where we want the pilot holes for the end pieces and also the bottom piece – this time it is slightly different as the end pieces are not as wide as the bottom to allow for the thickness of the MDF, and we also need some pilot holes to attach the end pieces to the side pieces.

Again, if you are using a 400mm box I would recommend 2 screws to fix the middle, For the bottom piece you want one at 138mm from the edge, and then 200mm and 338mm, as well as to further fixing screws 25mm from each end.
For the end pieces our measurements are slightly different due to the 18mm MDF thickness, so measure pilot holes at 120mm, 182mm and 302mm –  You will also need to add 2 fixing screws 25mm in from each end. Drill the pilot holes all the way through on the bottom piece, but only start a small hole on the end piece.

For the end pieces to attach to the side pieces we can use the same measurements for the pilot holes but this time they are fitting to the 400mm height side of the end piece, as they are the same height as the height of the side pieces - so measure 100mm, 200mm and 300mm on the sides of the side pieces and 2 fixing holes of 25mm from both ends.  Do the same for the end side pieces that they are going to attach to.  For these pilot holes, we want to go all the way through on the side pieces, but only start a small hole for the end pieces.

Remember, the end pieces fit inside the side pieces and on the top of the bottom piece, but before pushing it into place, add a thin layer of wood glue to the side that will attach to the bottom and gently push it into place – wipe any excess glue away, and again ask for some assistance to hold it in place whilst you use the screws to secure it all into place – remember to attach the bottom and each side!

Step 3: Step 3: Adding the Lid Using Hinges and Stays

The hinges that we recommend for this type of lid are 95° Concealed Hinges, and more specifically the ‘Screw On, Full Overlay’ variety.  This means they will open the lid 95° to get into the toy box, whilst also fitting the lid flush when closed as the hinge is hidden inside the unit.

To fit these hinges you need to bore a hole using a hinge hole cutter drill piece, a 35mm version is needed for our hinges, which is pretty standard.  These enables the top of the hinge fit into the lid and then close flush when it’s flat.

We want to position the hinges 100mm from each end to allow room for the lid stays, so we measure in from each end and mark the position.  From here we want to measure 21.5mm from the edge to mark where the centre of the hole is going to be.  When we have the centre, take the drill piece and drill a shallow hole, deep enough to fit the circular head of the hinge into so it is flush with the lid.

Now we need a couple of pilot holes for the hinge unit to attach to the toy box side, place the hinge top in the hole we’ve just drilled, then line up the side to the top and measure 37mm from the edge, and mark one of the holes from the mounting plate
Fitting the stay – On the side that you are fitting the stay to, using a ruler or tape measure, make a mark on the top inside edge of the side panel 101mm from the outside edge of the back panel. From this mark draw a line measuring 73mm  down, the end of this line is the bottom fixing position.

From the bottom of the line make a cross at 39mm up, put a spirit level below this cross and make a horizontal line and make a cross at 16mm either side of the vertical cross made. You should now have 3 marks that are in a shape of a triangle, pilot drill with a 3.5mm drill bit and using the screws supplied mount and fix your stay. To position the lid mounting bracket you will need to make a centre line mark on the lid, make a small line on the underside of the lid 126mm in from the back edge and 12mm + side panel thickness in from the side edge of the lid; this is the centre line for the bracket. Now make 2 marks 16mm either side (front to back) of the cross you have just created, you can now pilot drill these 2 marks and fit your bracket.
To achieve the correct closure speed you can turn the screw head on the side of the stay.

Step 4: The Final Jobs

The final two jobs to complete our toy box and begin using it are fairly simple; first of all you need to add your D Handle to the top of the toy box. How to do this is easy enough…

Measure the distance between the two hole centres on the handle then find your central point of the toy box. Set the handle where you want it to be and using your drill, drill the holes through. Next place the D handle aligned with the holes and screw it to the toy box.

Finally you need to attach your castors to the base of the toy box; this allows easy movement and provides accessibility. Attach the castors to the base of your toy box using your drill and screws. Once this is done your toy box is ready for use.
You can paint your children’s toy box appropriately or leave it plain; if you are using it in a particular room within your home such as your little girl’s bedroom then creating a look that fits the design of the room is essential. The last thing you want is a toy box that stands out from the décor and design element of the home.

Go to your local DIY superstore and purchase paint and even stencils that you feel fitting.

A toy box is a sensible solution for any homeowner who is looking to add additional storage on a budget, the materials and tools you need shouldn’t be too expensive and the project itself isn’t the most complex. Creating a toy box how I have explained has many different options depending on how you modify it; in fact it doesn’t have to be used as a toy box and instead you could use it as an Ottoman-style chest or even an under bed blanket or clothes box. We all need extra storage around the home especially at this time of the year as we put our summer clothes away and the children get more toys at Christmas so this project is simply the perfect solution.