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Thread: Toy Chest

  1. #1

    Toy Chest

    I became a first time grandfather in did that happen, I can’t be that old! A toy chest seemed like the perfect gift for the family. I searched some images online, found something I liked, and designed this one in Sketchup.

    The frame is hard maple, 1 1/8” thick for strength and appearance. The front, rear, and side panels are 1/2” birch plywood fitted into dadoes in the frame. The bottom is 3/4” birch plywood fitted into a dado. The top is 3/4” edge glued hard maple, because I didn’t want it to be too heavy for safety reasons.

    The polished nickel butt hinges are mortised into the frame and lid, and the 2 lid supports allow a very nice, slow descent when the lid is closed. They also keep it held open at 105 degrees.

    I’ve tried various finishes for maple, because I don’t like how much oil finishes warm up the color. Water based polyurethane doesn’t warm up the wood, but can look a bit cold to my eye. After some research and experimentation, I’ve found the maple finish I like. I used 3 coats of Sealcoat, a dewaxed shellac that has just a hint of warmth, followed by 2 coats of satin wipe-on poly. The color in the images I posted is a bit warmer than it looks in person.

    I’ve never used shellac, and it took a while to learn about its tendencies. Unless it’s sprayed, it seems to leave small ridges which must be removed between coats. I tried brushing, and ended up using a pad made from an old tee shirt. I used the 3M abrasive pads in red and gray, which are much finer than sandpaper, and worked well. The 2 coats of poly were also smoothed with the ultra-fine gray pad, which also reduced the sheen to my liking.

    Now it needs to be carefully packed and shipped from California to Arizona. The chest weighs about 50lbs. It’s very expensive using Fedex or UPS. After some research it appears much more cost effective using Greyhound bus service.

    I know there are members here much more knowledgeable than me, particularly when using shellac, and would appreciate your comments. Thanks for looking. Cheers,
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Phoenix AZ
    Tim- that’s beautiful! I don’t have any experience with shellac but you obviously figured it out and ended up with a great toy chest that should last a long time.
    “Pay no attention to what you cannot control..” Epictetus, 100 A.D.
    It costs nothing to be kind to others

  3. #3
    Nice toy chest! I especially like the air gap on the front - easy to lift the lid and keeps it from sealing tightly. (Dont want to hurt a child who climbs inside to "hide".)

    I get the ridges with shellac too. Will look forward to hearing how others address that.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Andrews View Post
    Now it needs to be carefully packed and shipped from California to Arizona. The chest weighs about 50lbs. It’s very expensive using Fedex or UPS. After some research it appears much more cost effective using Greyhound bus service.
    That is a nice looking chest. I made a bathroom vanity out of maple and used water based Varathane Diamond polyurethane floor finish.

    Unless you fully cover that chest Greyhound is going to beat it up. Just go to any bus station and watch them load/unload luggage. It looks like an ideal time for a road trip. I shipped a maple dresser from Erie PA to Tucson AZ using common carrier freight. I did mount the dresser to a pallet and enclosed it in a custom box made with 2 x 2's and luan plywood. The box was assembled with screws. It arrived with no damage.
    Lee Schierer
    USNA- '71
    Captain USN(Ret)

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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Cincinnati, OH
    Great project. I love it!
    Rustic? Well, no. That was not my intention!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    San Francisco, CA
    That is a fine chest. It will be in the family for generations, I'm sure.

    Ship it? You can, but doesn't this seem like a fine occasion for a driving trip? Deliver the chest, and visit with the kids and new grandkid?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    SE Michigan
    Very well done. Nice job on the finish. I use shellac a lot and find I have the most luck wiping or padding thin coats - like you did. I also try to finish as much as possible pre-assembly to avoid having to work into corners and such. Congrats on becoming a grandpa...they are going to love that chest.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Lewiston, Idaho
    Gorgeous toy chest that will be used for generations to come, I'm sure! Well done Sir!

  9. #9
    Thanks for all the nice replies gentlemen! I’m still working, so a long road trip isn’t in the cards just now.

    I just finished packing it using 4 ply boxes, doubled, for an 8 ply exterior with copious amounts of tape. I wrapped the chest in padded paper shipping “blankets”, reinforced the corners with cardboard, and then used a ton of bubble wrap all around. It’s now “floating” inside the box, and doesn’t budge when I move it around. Keeping my fingers crossed, but I think it will be OK.

    By the time I was finished packing it, including a few toys and a blanket inside, the box weighs 77 lbs! Cost $88 to ship, would have been over $300 with UPS or Fedex.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Kansas City
    Very nice design. Just to clarify, how did you attach the stiles of the front and back panels to the "legs"?

  11. #11
    Thanks Stan. I used multiple dowels for assembling the rails and stiles, and then attaching the front and back assemblies to the side assemblies. I purchased a Dowelmax last year, and have been really impressed by the speed, strength, and accuracy of this device. It is a very well manufactured tool.

    There are discussions for and against dowels on this site and others, but if you don't own a Domino I think dowels make a lot of sense. If used properly with more than one dowel per joint, they are very strong.

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