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toy chest

lare's picture

toy chest (post #106307)


I'm working on a design for a toychest for a young mother with a newborn. I want to make it able to be knocked down so she can move it. I'm pretty sure she is not "mechanical" and probably doesn't own any tools at all.

Box will be plywood, painted, and my wife and daughter will decorate that very nicely I'm sure. As part of that I could have them decorate to indicate which side is which and which is the front and so on.

I'm thinking sliding dovetails to hold the main part of the box and then have the top and bottom install after that. Bottom could set on cleats (cleats permanently fastened to box sides). Top could be a cleat with piano hinge permanently fastened to the box top and then come up with a way to hold the cleat to the box.

Obviously I'm floundering around here. Ideas? suggestions? It would sure be appreciated. Thank you.

DougF's picture

(post #106307, reply #1 of 3)


I'm pretty sure that regular ply will not work well with sliding dovetail joinery.  The ends can not be reliably milled and the cheap wood will splinter and you have to deal with the voids.  In fact, unless you can cut tapered sliding DT's, the fit will have to be somewhat loose in order to traverse the width of the box.  If however, this is the route you decide to take, I would recommend Baltic Birch. 

Another option is to use knock-down hardware.  This link is a representative site to give you some ideas:  If the box needs to be able to be disassembled then I would use rabbeted corner posts -(with chamfered corners) with the knock-down hardware and, as you suggested, cleats to hold the bottom.  This will give the box a pleasant frame and panel affect design with great structural integrity.   If you cab find them, or can make them from hardwood, a hinge top with removable hinge pins should finish out the project.  All she will need to take the box apart will be a hex key for the sides and ?? to remove the hinge pins.

Please post what you come up with. 


JohnWW's picture

(post #106307, reply #2 of 3)

I think you are floundering because what you are trying to do is near impossible.

Unless the box you are planning on is too large to be moved easily, I wouldn't go through the trouble of trying to make it knock down.  If you were planning on a large box perhaps two smaller boxes would be more practical. 

A small to medium sized box filled with toys can just be picked up and carried toys and all.  If the box is knocked down, the toys will just wind up going into a cardboard box that will be equally awkward to move.  And how many times is it likely to be moved anyway?  Better to put good handles on a simple box, or boxes, to make it easy to lift and carry.

Trying to make a box that knocks down and reassembles easily, that can be painted (the paint will jam a sliding joint or glue the components together unless the parts are carefully masked), and has a hinged lid with some sort of anti slam hardware is way too complicated to make work out properly.

John W. 

Edited 7/9/2006 11:04 am ET by JohnWW

John White Shop Manager for FWW Magazine, 1998 to 2007

lare's picture

(post #106307, reply #3 of 3)

Thank you both for your response. The toy box itself will be about 32" wide by 20" tall by 20" deep.

If I end up making a knock down box I will end up with the fasteners from Woodcraft because I won't give up much strength with them. I would then make a storage pocket or two under the chest to store the required hex key for assembly.

Then the other half of the time I agree with John. I'm making this way too difficult. Just build the box with solid joints and go on. I'm probably trying to solve a problem which didn't exist until I came along and created it.

Anyway, I've got a week or three to finalize a design and then get it built. Toy box needs to be in place by Christmas so grandma (my wife) can work on filling it. Son (in Army) is deploying overseas again in October and I wanted to have it done before then but that's not really a firm deadline. Thanks for the suggestions.