This is 9 Helpful Tips on How to Build Your Own Toy Chest. In this post, I’ll show you several ideas that will help you along the way as you build a great looking toy chest for a young child. Enjoy.
Build Your Own Toy Chest
One of the most fun woodworking projects for a new parent or grandparent is making a toy chest for the kids. Not only is this a fun project for you, but it’s also a really fun project for the children that get a new toy box.
Making things for kids is one of the greatest pleasures in all of woodworking. If you haven’t done that yet, I definitely recommend you give it a try. The feeling that you get is amazing, and you will be hooked immediately.
Making a toy chest is no exception, and coming up I’ll show you several helpful tips on how to make the most of the process. You’ll avoid mistakes, create a better looking toy box, and make those children even happier.
Find Inspiration Online
In order to figure out what exactly you want to make, you need to first do a little survey of the landscape. See what’s out there. Even if you have a really good idea for a toy chest, looking outward will help you refine that idea.
The first place to go is Pinterest. Once you’re there, search for homemade toy chest, or handmade toy chest and look at the results. Spent some time scrolling, and save any of the images that you like.
As you see different peoples interpretation of making the same project, you’ll start to develop your own ideas even farther. You’ll also start to pick the things that you like from different projects and combine them.
This is a great process that I recommend you do before undertaking any woodworking project. It never hurts to get a few good ideas, and you almost always find something that you didn’t think of.
Start With a Good Set of Plans
Once you have your ideas, there are a couple of different ways to start the project. The first, and one of the least intensive as far as drafting and mathematics goes is to start with a good set of plans that you can purchase.
Plans are cheap, even plans that you buy from regular stores. Amazon has tons of woodworking plans, and the amount of burden that a good set of plans will relieve from you is definitely worth the money.
Don’t be cheap when it comes to plans. If you find a set that you really like, and you love the way the toy box looks, it will absolutely pay for itself down the road. Besides, you’re able to create something professional looking, and the kids will love it.
Design Your Own Toy Chest
The other method for creating a design is to design your own. This is essentially the process where you make your own plans, cut lists, and every other detail that you need in order to build your own version of the classic children’s toy chest.
This is where you take the ideas that you’ve collected, and sketch out a design that incorporates them into the look. You can use graph paper for this purpose, and make three dimensional drawings complete with measurements.
Being in charge of the design aspect is definitely nice, but also understand that you’re going to have to devote a little bit of time upfront to creating the plans. However, if you go this route, you will have a fully custom toybox that is all yours.
Simple Designs Always Win
A simple word to the wise about creating your own plans. Simple designs always win. By win I mean always end up being completed. When you make a simple design, the chances that you will actually complete the build are far higher.
Elaborate designs require a lot of time to make. This pushes down their likelihood of actually being completed because lots of woodworkers will give up after a while. The more elaborate and technical you make the build, the greater this chance is.
Do yourself a favor, and create a simple design that is easy to execute. About halfway through the build, as it starts to become perhaps a little bit routine, you’ll be happy that you can see the finish line in the not so distant future.
This little bit of hope will give you the motivation that you need to finish, which is why simple projects tend to be completed at a much higher rate than elaborate projects. Remember, it’s for the kids, so as long as you make them happy then it’s a good project.
See Also: Wooden Tools For Kids
Pick the Best Wood
After you have your designs in place, it’s time to pick the best wood to make your project. There are a number of different ways you can go, and if money is no object you can definitely make some toy boxes that are both exotic and beautiful.
However, to ground this post back in reality land, let’s focus on the major types of wood that are available to woodworkers at a reasonable price. This would be Pine, Maple, Oak, and Poplar.
Of the three of these woods, Pine is going to be the least expensive, the lightest, and overall the easiest to work with. Going down the list, Poplar comes next, followed by Maple, and then followed by Oak.
These aren’t the only types of wood you can use, but if you want a really easy start, I definitely recommend picking one of these because you can find them at a local home-improvement store in most cases.
Toy chests tend to be on the larger side, so making the chest out of Pine can also help you with my recommendations in the next section.
Pick the Right Size and Weight
It’s really important when you’re designing a toy chest for kids that you pay attention to the weight of the item. While the kids aren’t going to move the toy chest around very much, you are eventually going to have to do something with it, and it shouldn’t be too heavy.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to not let your plans get out of control. If you are staring at your blueprints right now, and they show a 4‘ x 6‘ toybox it’s 3 feet tall, you definitely need to scale down those dimensions quite a bit.
Most little chests are just that, they are little chests. They are not meant to hold every single toy that your children own, but hold a small selection of prized toys that the kids really love. Simply keeping the size under control will help you control the weight quite a bit.
The next thing to look at is the construction. Choosing a lightweight wood species is another fantastic way to keep the weight down. You don’t have to make your chest out of balsa of course, but you also don’t want to make it out of Purple Heart.
Finally, if you thin the panels that are used on the walls of your toy chest, you can reduce the weight quite a bit, and even possibly allow yourself to use more exotic and heavier types of wood. Instead of using a 4/4 thickness piece, split it in half and use half the thickness.
See Also: 10 Helpful Tips for Buying a Used Planer
Solid and Sturdy Construction Methods
Since this is a kids item, it’s extraordinarily important that you take a look at your construction methods and ensure that they are very strong. You should also do something that is famous in the aviation industry. It’s called redundancy.
Airplanes often have several systems in place to do the exact same function. The idea is that if one of them were to fail, the other one could complete the job. This is a no-brainer when you’re flying through the air, but you can also apply this to making kids toys.
Kids are hard on their toys, and every parent knows it. That toybox will end up having kids jumping inside of it, sitting on it, leaning against it, and shaking it. Anything bad that can happen will probably happen to this toy chest at some point in it’s life.
Instead of worrying every time something like that happens, just build overlapping layers of strength into your design. For example, don’t just glue all the pieces together. Instead, use glue and then reinforce those joints with little dowels.
You can also add wood screws in the main areas of construction that will hold the overall structure together. All you need to do is sink them in a little bit deep, and you can inlay or fill over the heads and no one will know they are there.
When you combine these additional steps with your wood glue, you create overlapping layers that are both trying to do the same thing. This means you won’t have to cringe every time the kids play with your new creation.
See Also: The Best Food Safe Wood Glue
Secure the Lid from Falling
This is one of the unforeseen aspects of making a chest that sometimes people without kids might overlook. Kids just don’t anticipate things happening the way that adults do, so you need to anticipate it for them.
One of those sources of potential energy that could cause injury is the lid. If there’s nothing holding the lid from slamming shut, understand that at some point you are going to have to deal with the lid falling and hurting one of the kids.
It may not be major, but it very well could be. A good slam from a lid on a finger can break it or worse, so you just want to avoid that right for the beginning. Besides, safety should be you’re number one concern when making anything for children.
There are a couple of different ways to secure the lid, and one of the easiest is just to secure it in the open position. This can be done with a simple addition of a piece of wood on both sides, where you screw into the lid and into the base.
Another thing you can do is install a nice closure on the lid that comes down slowly. This will still allow the children to close the lid, but if it were to fall accidentally, it will fall at a much slower rate.
Use a Kid Friendly Finish
Finally, use it kid friendly finish that you decide upon based on the age of the kids that are going to be using the toy chest. Remember, young kids love to chew on everything, and sometimes older kids like it too.
For really young kids, I recommend a food safe finish that you apply very lightly. In the end, your finish only needs to provide a layer of protection, and bring out the beauty in the wood. It takes very little finish to do that.
If your kids are a bit older, you can use any number of furniture finishes like lacquer, as long as you know that the children are not going to be eating the toy chest. Make a good decision, because the last thing you want to do is get a little child sick for playing with their toys.
Again, the number one concern you should have in making toys for children is not how they look, but how safe they are. Children are so beautiful, and it would be a shame for them to get hurt just playing and being themselves.
Your Action Assignment
Now that you know all these cool tips about building toy chests, it’s time to get out into your shop and take action. If you’ve never made anything for a child before, today is your lucky day, and it’s time to get inspired.
Start your search online, and check out all of the different options and design looks that are out there. Find the things that you like, and make a note of the things that you don’t. Then, either create plans yourself, or just buy them online.
Decide on a nice looking species of wood that is not too heavy, and head out to the store to get enough lumber and supplies to build your chest. Also, plan for double layers of joinery techniques in order to ensure that the chest is safe.
If you have any questions about nine helpful ways to build a toy chest, please post a question and I’ll be glad to answer it. Happy building.
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