Introduction: Toy Organization Cabinet With a Walnut Bench and Dovetail Drawers

I recently moved all of the kids toys down to the basement and I'm working on making it a really fun kids space. I have a problem, however, with where to put all the toys. Before I started this project the toys were just kind of piled in against the wall. That is when I got the idea to build a huge toy storage cabinet to clean it up and keep it all organized.

I have added a list of all of the tools that I used below, but please do not get intimidated. There are various different ways to do all of the things that I have done and the list of tools needed could be much smaller/less complicated depending upon how you build your own shelving project. If you want to see the entire project check out the YouTube video I made here:

Tools I used:

For building the cabinet:

  • Pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Wen Track Saw
  • T Square
  • Table Saw
  • Kreg Pocket Hole Jig
  • Drill
  • Pocket Hole Screws
  • Wood Glue
  • 3/8 inch dowels for plugging holes
  • Small hand saw
  • Wood Putty
  • Sand Paper
  • Pin Nailer

For making the bench:

  • Rough cut boards (I used walnut, but any wood would do)
  • Miter Saw
  • Table saw
  • Jointer (only necessary for rough cut lumber)
  • Thickness planer (only necessary for rough cut lumber)
  • Biscuit joiner
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps
  • Orbital Sander
  • Router with a roundover bit
  • Epoxy for filling gaps (only necessary for knots or holes)
  • Wood stain or finish (I used Tung oil alone)

For building drawers and drawer fronts

  • Lumber
  • 1/4 inch plywood for panels and drawer bottoms
  • Miter Saw
  • Table Saw
  • Router
  • Dovetail Jig
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps
  • Drill
  • Drawer Slides
  • Router Table
  • Shaker style router bits
  • Paint
  • Handle hardware
  • screws

Step 1: Measuring, Planning and Selecting Materials

The first step to any project like this is to measure the space and plan out the build. I already had an idea of what I wanted to build, but I also had to make sure that it would fit the space. My space is a wall in a basement room just on the other side of a staircase. The space is indented about 10 inches deep which gives me a guide for how deep I want the piece to be. The width of the entire piece is based upon how wide the space is from the wall to the edge of the stairs which is about 92 inches.

After making my measurements I also considered what materials I would use. I wanted to use actual wood, but when I looked at how much pine shelving boards were, I realized that they would be far too expensive. I looked around at a few other options and settled on particle board. Particle board is perfect for shelving and only costs around $20/sheet, but it has its own challenges which I will explain later. I did a few calculations and figured that I would only need 2 sheets to complete the project (if they were cut just right). So I purchased 2 sheets of particle board and brought it home.

Step 2: Cutting Materials

Unless you have a large cabinet saw and a friend, cutting sheet goods can be a challenge. I like to use a track saw with a foam pad underneath. It is controlled, safe and accurate. You can do the same thing with a circular saw with a rip fence or other attachment, but it is a bit harder. You can also have the sheets cut at the hardware store, but they are not always the most accurate, especially when it is being cut the long way which is what is needed in this case. When I get the larger pieces cut down, I use a table saw for the finishing cuts as it is much quicker.

These shelves could be built in numerous configurations and could even be made modular if it needed to be moved. I built mine in one solid piece in the manner shown with two large pieces forming the top and bottom of the six lower boxes, two larger pieces for the left and right side of the upper boxes and then four large pieces for the shelves and top of the upper boxes. All other shelves were cut to 12 inches to form the walls of all of the remaining boxes.

It was a lot of cuts, but when it is broken down to its component parts many of the cuts are repetitive and simple.

Step 3: Bringing It All Together

I thought for a while about how I would join all of the shelves together. Originally I considered cutting rabbets or dados, but this proved to be fairly complicated, especially with the limited tools that I have. In the end I decided that the best route would be to use pocket hole joinery.

I used a Kreg Pocket hole jig to drill all the holes and then screw all of the cabinet pieces together. In addition to the pocket hole screws, I also used wood glue on each side.

Once it is all put together, I added some thin strips of wood to the front of the cabinet. That is necessary because the ends of particle board is very porous and without the strips of wood, the edges of the cabinet would look unfinished. This is one of the drawbacks in using particle board as this is not something that I would have to do with real wood.

I also added some 2 inch wood strips in a shaker style on the sides. This hides some of the pocket holes and gives it a more decorative feel.

Step 4: Hiding Pocket Holes

Because the sides of the particle board are smooth, there isn't really any prepping or sanding that has to take place before I paint, but I am sure to putty over all of the pin nail holes from the faces and sides that I nailed in.

One downside of using pocket holes is that they leave an unsightly hole. Before I can paint it, I need to plug them. The best way to do this is to use 3/8 inch dowels. All you need to do is put a little glue in the hole, shove the dowel in as far as it will go and then cut off the excess. From there you will need to add some putty and sand it smooth once it is dried. After the piece is painted you will never know there was a pocket hole there.

Step 5: Painting

Once the cabinet is built it is time to paint. I painted a coat of primer and then a coat of cabinet paint. Nothing fancy, but it was time consuming to make sure that all of the nooks and crannies were covered.

Step 6: Securing the Cabinet to the Wall

Because the cabinet is very top heavy and because I am certain that the kids will climb on it, I need to make sure that the cabinet is secured to the wall. I use L brackets and screw into the cabinet and a stud in the wall.

Step 7: Building the and Installing the Walnut Bench

With the cabinet built and secured, it is time to build the bench. I took rough cut lumber and milled it on a jointer and thickness planer and then glued the boards together to form a slab for the bench. From there, I did a ton of sanding and rounded over the edges of the bench. The wood I used also had a few knots and to fill them I mix up some epoxy. I give it one last sanding and then I add tung oil as a finish.

Once the finish dries I bring in the bench in to the house and attach it to the cabinet with screws.

Step 8: Building the Drawer Boxes

I built the drawer boxes out of 3/4 inch pine. Drawer boxes like this are usually better being 1/2 inch. This gives you more space in the drawer, but it was what I had on hand and I didn't want to plane all the pieces down. I used a Rockler Dovetail jig to make the dovetails. It was a bit of a challenge as the drawers are 9 1/2 inches deep, and I have never used the dovetail jig on a drawer so large. It all worked out though and I installed the drawer boxes with 10 inch full extension drawer slides.

One key thing to remember when building drawer boxes is to leave enough space for the drawer slides. Check th instructions on your slides, but most slides require 1/2 inch of clearance on both sides.

Step 9: Building Drawer Fronts

Building drawer fronts can be a challenging project. My drawer fronts are a shaker style and there are a few different ways that they an be built. I choose to build them using a router table, but before that I need to mill the rough lumber using a table saw jointer and thickness planer. Then I use the router table to make the rails and stiles, including the cope, and then glue them together with a 1/4 inch plywood panel. Before I install them I give them a good coat of primer and then paint to match the rest of the cabinet. Once they are installed I add a handle and they are good to go. Perfect for all the kids shoes.

Step 10: Finishing Touches

Were are basically done with the build. The only thing left is a few finishing touches. I add some trim to the top and a few plastic and wooden boxes (all from Target) to contain all of the toys.

I am really proud of this piece. I took a wasted space in my house and built a beautiful and functional piece of furniture.

If you enjoyed this build, be sure to check out my other instructables and my website You can also check out my YouTube channel here: and if you like it, you can subscribe here.

Spring Cleaning Challenge

Second Prize in the
Spring Cleaning Challenge