Overview

building wall cubbies
Illustration: Carl Wiens
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To make a cube out of ½-inch plywood, you need to cut the sides 1 inch shorter than the top and bottom pieces that overlap them. The thickness of the two pieces adds 1 inch, evening out the dimensions of the four sides. Similarly, the lauan or plywood pieces that covers the back has the same dimensions as the box, but the piece that fits inside is 1 inch smaller in both width and height. (To get a head start on the cutting, ask a home center or lumberyard to rip the plywood into 12-inch-wide strips when you buy it.)

As with any wood project, the strongest way to hold things together is with both glue and nails. The glue multiplies the strength of the nails. Kids can do the nailing with some supervision; in fact, they can do most of the work, including measuring, sanding, stapling, and painting. A jigsaw is better off in adult hands, but kids as young as 7 should be able to use a random-orbit sander with a parent's guidance.

And remember: Whenever the saw is on, safety goggles are a must.
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    Tools List

    • 30-foot tape measure
      Tape measure
    • straight edge
      Straightedge ruler
    • jigsaw
      Jigsaw, circular saw, or handsaw
    • safety glasses
      Safety glasses
    • random orbit sander
      Random-orbit sander or sanding block
    • bar clamps
      Bar clamps
    • hammer with nailset
      Hammer and nailset
    • putty knife
      Putty knife
    • paintbrush
      2-inch paintbrush
    • Artist's Brush
      Artist's brush
    • staple gun
      Staple gun
    • drill
      Drill/driver fitted with 1/16-inch drill bits
    • Phillips screwdriver
      Screwdriver

    Shopping List

    1. One quarter-sheet of ½-inch birch-veneer plywood

    2. One quarter-sheet of luaun or ¼-inch plywood

    3. 4d finish nails

    4. 1-inch box nails

    5. 120-grit sandpaper

    6. Stainable wood glue

    7. Stainable wood putty
    8. Clear acrylic finish or latex paint

    9. Acrylic artist’s paint

    10. ½ yard of fabric

    11. ¼-inch staples

    12. ¼-inch staples

    13. 2-inch screws with corresponding washers and wall anchors

    14. Velcro tape