Introduction: Lasercut Toy Car Shelves

My little boy is crazy about his toy cars and used to keep them in a box in his bedroom (or all over the floor of his bedroom, really). Over the years he gathered quite a collection of them and I felt they should be displayed more openly and proudly.

I came across some cool shelving and storage ideas in the form of a truck and decided to design, lasercut and assemble one myself.


A friend of mine suggested I publish this project on here after I showed her a picture of the finished product. I didn't take a lot of photos while working on these shelves because I wasn't really planning on documenting the process. As a result, many of the photos in this Instructable were taken after the project was finished. I hope I was still able to clearly demonstrate how everything came into existence.


  • (Access to) laser cutting machine
  • MDF-panels with +/- 3mm thickness (size and amount depends on the number of truck trailers you'll make and on the size of your shelves) or other type of wood for laser cutting machine
  • Hammer to fit the different sides of the box together (a wood or rubber hammer would probably be best so as not to damage the wood while hammering)
  • A small amount of wood glue and a small paintbrush
  • A couple of screws and plugs to attach the truck trailer(s) to the wall (4 per truck trailer)
  • A spirit level
  • A drilling machine
  • A screwdriver
  • Double sided tape to attach the truck tractor and wheels to the wall

Step 1: Gathering and Measuring Toy Cars

Gather all the toy cars you would like to fit into the truck trailer(s) and measure them so you can figure out how high, wide and deep your shelves and box(es) need to be.

My son has lots of cars in varrying sizes so I decided to design two truck trailers: one with shelves of 9x5 cm and one with shelves of 13x7 cm. Both trailers were designed with shelves of 5 cm deep.

Once I figured out the amount and sizes of my shelves (I made sure to have some extra spots in case my son gets more cars for his birthday, for Christmas or just for breathing), I started drawing the design in Inkscape.

Step 2: Drawing the Toothcomb Design for Shelves

I used Inkscape to draw a design for the shelves. This is fairly easy and includes lots of copy/pasting.

Both SVG files are included in this instructable and are yours to use or adjust freely.

The shelves are designed with a toothcomb system to make them fit together without having to use nails or glue. This means that the combs have to be the right size. Check the thickness of your MDF-panels (or other type of wood) and adjust the combs accordingly. The MDF-panels I used had a thickness of 3 mm.

Step 3: Designing the Box(es)

The toothcomb shelves have to fit into a box and luckily there's an open source website that can design this box for you. All you need to do is enter the required measurements into the website and then download your file.

This is the free website I used: The website is in Dutch but is fairly easy to understand and use.

Parameters in English (+ measurements I used for the first trailer with the 9x5 shelves):

Width box in mm: 654 (this is the width of the shelves + 2x3 mm to incorporate the thickness of the MDF-panels)

Length box in mm: 427 (length of shelves + 2x3 mm)

Height (depth) box in mm: 60 (I added 10 mm to the depth of the shelves)

Width of tabs in mm: 10 (you can adjust this to your liking but I wouldn't make these too wide)

Thickness of material in mm: 3

Width laserbeam in mm: 0.16 (this is the default setting)

Layout: lasercut panel (DXF output)

Deksel (lid): geen deksel (no lid)


Click the button thay says 'aanpassingen doorvoeren' (adjust) and you will see the endresult displayed.

Click 'genereer DXF' to download the file. You can open this DXF file with Inkscape and save it as an SVG file.

I incorporated 4 screw holes into the design of the back of the box (I added these in Inkscape). That way I didn't have to drill holes into the wood after it was already cut to size. You can add more than 4 holes if you fear the weight of the cars might be too much to be carried by four screws alone.

Both of the SVG files of my boxes are included in this Instructable and are yours to use freely.

Step 4: Designing the Truck Tractor

I found an SVG file online of a truck tractor with seperate wheels. After adjusting (mainly simplifying) the design, it was ready to be lasercut.

The SVG file of the truck tractor is included in this Instructable and is yours to use freely.

Step 5: Laser Cutting the Shelves, Boxes and Truck

Use a laser cutting machine to cut the shelves, the box(es) and the truck tractor out of the wood panels.

Step 6: Assembling the Shelves and Box(es)

When I tried asembling the different sides of the box, I was met with some resistance. Nothing a hammer and a few well-aimed strikes couldn't fix, however. On the plus side: there is no way those sides will ever get loose and no glue was needed to attach the sides to the back of the box or to each other.

Once the boxes were assembled, I fitted the shelves into each other (see toothcomb system) and into the box. Due to some early miscalculations on my end (which I corrected in this Instructable), the shelves didn't fit the box perfectly. I therefore used some wood glue to attach the shelves to the back of the box. If your shelves fit the box snugly, however, no glue is required. But you can always add some just to be safe.

Step 7: Assembling the Truck Tractor and Wheels

If you look at the SVG file of the truck tractor, you'll see that the wheels of the truck consist of three parts: the wheels themselves, the 'fenders' and the rectangle piece of wood that the wheels and fenders are attached to.

Use some wood glue to attach all these pieces together and let everything dry.

Step 8: Hanging the Box(es) and Truck on the Wall

Before you start drilling holes into the wall, make sure you choose a spot wide enough to fit the truck tractor and truck trailer(s).

I started by taping the truck tractor to the wall with double sided tape (use a spirit level to make sure the tractor is level). This piece is not heavy and therefore doesn't really need to be screwed or nailed to the wall. You can choose to do this anyway if you don't want to use tape on your wall or don't have any double sided tape on hand. I'm assuming wood glue might work as well, but I haven't tested this theory.

After taping the truck tractor to the wall, I held the first box to the wall and used a spirit level to make sure the box was perfectly horizontal. I kept the box in position while drawing dots through the holes of the back of the box with a pencil. I put the box aside and drilled 4 holes in the spots of the pencil dots, then put plugs into the holes. Now I could screw the box to the wall using some screws and a simple screwdriver.

I repeated this process with the second truck trailer.

To finish up, I added the wheels underneath the boxes (two sets of wheels per box) with double sided tape.

Step 9: Adding Toy Cars to the Shelves

Add the cars to the shelves.

I sorted the cars by color first and then tried to organise them accordingly onto the shelves. I could've just let my kid randomly add the cars but then I couldn't have taken the next half hour to just stare at the pretty shelves with their pretty color-coördinated cars on them. :)

Anyway, that's it!

Shelving Contest

Participated in the
Shelving Contest