How to Build a Wooden Toy Box

Free Woodworking Plans from Lee's Wood Projects

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Children need a special place to store their toys, books and games. This sturdy wooden toy chest helps keep the home from clutter by providing a safe place for their storage, and the opportunity for you teach your children responsibility, and the need to pick up after themselves. The chest features two approved safety lid supports that prevents the top from ever falling. When the lid is down it provides a place for the children to sit. Convenient finger slots on the sides allows for this wood toy box to be easily transported.

Click On Image to See Larger Scalable Drawing

Technical Information for Building a Wooden Toy Box

A. Materials List:

1 A Front 3/4" x 17 1/4" x 32"
Western Hemlock
1 B Rear 3/4" x 17 1/4" 32" Western Hemlock
2 C Sides 3/4" x 17 1/4" x 20" Western Hemlock
1 D Seat 3/4" x 19 3/4" x 32" Western Hemlock
1 E Bottom 1/2" x 18 1/2" x 30 1/2" Plywood
2 F Front & Rear Bottom Braces 1/2" x 1/2" x 30 1/2" Western Hemlock
2 G Side Bottom Brace 1/2" x 1/2" 17 1/2" Western Hemlock
1 H Back Rest 3/4" x 9" x 32" Western Hemlock
2 I Arm Rests 3/4" x 3" x 20" Western Hemlock
10 J Dowel Pins 3/8" x 2" Birch
2 K Splines 1/8" x 1/2" x 16" Birch
1 L Piano Hinge 1 1/16" x 30" Brass
2 M Safety Lid Supports   Brass
6 N Flathead Screws 1 1/2" x #8 Steel
1 O TOYS Lettering 1/4" x 2" x 10" Wood


Western Hemlock



B. Patterns:

  1. Scale Back Rest H to the drawing dimension size.  This can be accomplished by measuring the print out of the project and dividing that size into the dimension size shown on the drawing, or listed in the Bill of Materials.  This will give a “Multi-Factor” that can be used to figure the enlargement size for the pattern. 
  2. Take the drawing printout and the multi-factor to a printing company.  Most printing companies that do duplicating can make the enlargement required for the pattern.
  3. The same multi-factor can be used to determine the enlargements for the other shapes I & O.
  4. Trace the pattern enlargements onto poster board or Mylar and cut out the patterns with a pair of scissors.
  5. Use these patterns to trace the shapes onto the wood stock.

C. Cutting Procedures:

  1. Use a table saw and a radial arm saw to cut all wood slightly larger than the specified sizes called for on the materials list.
  2. Use a jointer to joint the edges of all boards.
  3. In order to acquire the necessary width of the front (A), place the jointed edges of two 9" x 33" boards together, and use a framing square and pencil draw lines across the boards 2" in from each end and one line in the center.
  4. Use a dowel jig and align the 3/8" diameter hole of the jig with the lines on the boards and drill holes 3/8" x 1 1/4" deep in each board.
  5. Place a couple of drops of wood glue in each hole of one board, and use a wooden mallet pound a dowel pin (J) in each hole.
  6. Place glue on the exposed dowel pins and on the edges of each board and clamp them together using three bar clamps. Clean up excess glue and allow to dry for 24 hours.
  7. Repeat steps 3 through 6 to acquire the necessary width for the rear (B).
  8. Also repeat steps 3 through 6 to acquire the necessary widths for the sides (C), with the following modifications: the board lengths should be 21"; and only two dowel pins and two bar clamps are necessary.
  9. Repeat steps 3 through 6 to acquire the necessary width for the seat (D) except use two 10" x 33" boards instead of 9" x 32" boards. Three dowel pins will be required.
  10. When the glue has dried, place the boards in the planer and plane a trim cut on each side.
  11. Use a radial arm saw to cut the boards to specified lengths, and a table saw to rip the boards to specified widths.
  12. Remove the saw marks on each board using a jointer set for a 1/32" cut.
  13. Trace the cut-out patterns onto the front (A), back (B) and sides (C). Use a band saw to cut out the shapes in the wood. Use a spindle sander to sand the shapes. NOTE: The shape for the back (B) should be on the bottom portion only.
  14. To make the finger slots on the sides (C), draw a line 3 1/2" from the top parallel with the top of each side. Next draw two lines perpendicular to the horizontal line measuring 8 1/2" in from each side. Use a 1" diameter Foerstner bit and a drill press to drill two holes in each side at the intersection of each line. Use a jig saw to cut out the slots and a spindle sander to sand them.
  15. Tilt the radial arm saw blade to 45 degrees and cut the ends of front (A), rear (B), and sides (C) to form miter joints. Turn the boards over and raise the saw blade to make a 45 degree cuts approximately 1/4" deep in the ends of the boards previously cut to provide grooves for splines. The grooves should end approximately 1" from the top of each board to provide for blind splines.
  16. Use a disk sander to round the two front corners of the top (D).
  17. Trace the back rest pattern (H) onto a 9 1/2" x 33" board. Use a band saw to cut a 3/4" x 3" notch out of the bottom of each side of the back rest. These notches will fit over the arm rests. Also trace the arm rest pattern (I) onto a 6 1/2" x 21" board. You should be able to get both arm rests from this board. Use a band saw to cut out the shapes, and a spindle sander to sand them.
  18. Use a hand router with a 3/4" round-over bit to round the edges of the shaped areas of front (A), sides (C), including the finger slots. Also route the top shape of the back rest (H), top of arm rests (I), and the front edge of seat (D). NOTE: Do not route the last 3/4" of each arm rest. This is the portion that fits under the back rest, and it should be square to fit in the notches.
  19. Cut front & rear bottom braces to 1/2" x 1/2" x 30 1/2", and side bottom braces to 1/2" x 1/2" x 18 1/2".
  20. Cut plywood bottom (E) to18 1/2" x 30 1/2". NOTE: Bottom should be cut after the box assembly has been completed in order to get an accurate fit.
  21. Trace pattern of TOYS lettering (O) onto a 1/4" x 3" x 10" board and cut out the letters using a jig saw.

D. Sanding Procedure:

  1. Rough sand all parts with an orbital sander and 80 grit sandpaper.
  2. Intermediate sand all parts with an orbital sander and 120 grit sandpaper.
  3. Rough and intermediate, sanding should be completed before assembly procedure.
  4. Finish sand all parts with an orbital sander and 220 grit sandpaper after the Assembly Procedure.
  5. Hand sand all edges, details, and lettering with 220 grit sandpaper just prior to the Finish Procedure.

E. Assembly Procedures:

  1. Place a bead of glue in the grooves cut into the ends of front (A), rear (B), and sides (C) and then tap one spline into each board.
  2. Place glue on all 45 degree edges and exposed splines and clamp the box assembly together with three belt clamps. Clean up excess glue and allow to dry for 24 hours.
  3. Clamp seat (D) in a bench clamp with the rear edge up. Place wood glue on the edge and position the bottom of the back rest (H) flush with the seat edge and nail the back rest securely to the seat with 1 1/2" finish nails.
  4. Use two hand screw clamps to clamp the seat (D) to the work bench. Place glue on the bottom edges of the arm rests (I). Also place glue in the notches of the back rest (H). Clamp the arm rests to the seat and to the back rest. Nail the arm rests to the back rest with 1 1/2" finish nails. Turn the assembly up side down and use a hand drill to drill three 1 1/2" x #8 holes through the seat (D) and into the bottom of each arm rest (I) with a screw-mate counter bore. One hole should be in the middle and the other two should be two inches from each end of the arm rest. Use 1 1/2" x #8 flathead screws to secure the arm rest to the seat.
  5. Align the seat assembly with the box assembly and attach the piano hinge (L) onto the top edge of the back (B) and the under side of the seat (D) with flathead screws provided.
  6. Attach the safety lid (friction type) supports (M) with flathead screws provided in each package. The supports mount under the seat (D) and to the interior of each side (C).
  7. Glue on the cut-out wood letters spelling the word "TOYS" onto the front (A). Secure the letters with 1/2" brads.


  1. Use a nail gun, if available, for all finish nails and brads.
  2. If using hardwood, pilot holes must be drilled before installing screws.

E. Finish Procedure:

  1. Use plastic wood dough, if needed, to fill any holes or cracks. Allow to dry approximately 1 hour before sanding.
  2. Hand sand wood dough with 220 grit sandpaper.
  3. If stain is desired, apply with a brush and allow to penetrate for approximately 10 minutes, and then remove excess with a clean rag.
  4. Allow stain to dry for 6 hours and then repeat with a second coat.
  5. Apply a clear finish such as Lacquer, Varathane, Polyurethane, etc. using a pure-bristle brush. Allow to dry for 12 hours.
  6. Lightly hand sand with 220 grit sandpaper.
  7. Apply second coat of clear finish.
  8. Allow to dry for 24 hours before using your wooden toy box.


  1. Use a tack rag after each sanding procedure to remove the dust.
  2. Match wood dough color to the stain color.
  3. Do not allow stain to dry before removing with rag.
  4. If paint is desired instead of a stain and clear finish, match the color of the wood dough to the wood color. Paint grade alder is recommended when using paint.
  5. Most hardwoods are recommended for staining and/or clear finishes.
  6. Clear finishes without stain are often desirable when using pine wood.
  7. Stain or paint the "TOYS" lettering (O) with a contrasting color for contrast. Note: This should be completed before the Assembly Procedure.

*Congratulations, your wood toy box is finished and ready to use!

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