Curt's Ad Hoc.

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Toy chest. Toy chest.

This is the first toy chest that I built.

My daughter said to me, "Dad, can you build me a toy chest? I'll pay for it but I don't have a lot of money right now". I told her I probably could but give me a little bit to figure it out. First, I have 4 children and all have small children, so I need to think about building more than one in the long run. And that could get expensive.

I priced out oak at the Home Depot and got a method in my head. The price for wood alone was $80 and the whole project would be about $100-120 depending on hardware. As expected, that was too much. Putting on my thinking cap, I went back and looked at the workbench. Why not do something similar?

I bought six 2" x 4"'s ($12), ran them through the planer to about an inch, then cut them into 1/2" strips 8' long. So far so good. Now I had to glue the pieces, stacking them into a wall about 9" tall but offsetting them an inch or so as "fingers". In the end I had two 9" walls to glue, making the toy chest 18 inches tall. The width was 36" and the depth was 24". A little sanding and the "fingers" went together.

Toy chest. Template.

I created a template out of plexiglass to make the handle. I found out that cutting 1/4" plexiglass is tricky. If you try to cut it with a jigsaw, the plexiglass gets hot, melts and does weird things to the blade. I tried a coping saw but it melted around the blade and I almost didn't get it loose. I ended up using the jigsaw but I took 1/8" cuts, backed off a couple a seconds and cut again, trying not to get the plexiglass hot. after a few hours, it was done.

Using the router and template actually did better than I expected for the first time doing it. But as any project you get a few "gotchas". I had planed the sides down from the original 1/2" and ended up aout 3/8" thick. When I was getting ready to add the hardware, the screws were 3/4". Oops. So I added a strip of wood to the lid and added the lid lock. Ok, the lid weighed to much and it didn't hold. I added a second one and it seemed to hold but for safety sake, I added a third to make it look right and the option of a third lid lock. Now, a little stain and we're done. Total cost, $25 to $30.

Toy chest. Toy chest.

I built the second chest with knowledge of all my mistakes. I tried to select piece without major "knots and defects" to get a cleaner look. I started with 1" thick and planed it down to a little over 3/4".

Toy chest. Toy chest.

Reusing my template, adding the handle holes went real fast. As in any project, the second time was faster. This was a little bit smaller than my daughters toy chest and I was not going to be doing the finishing work.

Toy chest.

The young couple were surprised when I delivered it. He said he gave it a clear stain. Sorry, no pictures of the stained version.