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Build It | Holiday Toy Box

Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva and host Kevin O’Connor build a toy box for Tom’s grandson

Building a toy box

  1. Cut the 1x4” boards to a desired rough length using a miter saw.
  2. Lay out the boards for the front, back, and bottom of one side. Use the fourth piece to determine the angle for the top of the box. Mark the boards at a desired angle and cut it using the miter saw.
  3. Repeat this process for the other side of the box.
  4. Cut the stiles and rails for the front of the box at the desired length.
  5. Using the table saw, cut dados along the perimeters of the side of the stiles receiving the panel and cut rabbets into the ½” plywood for the sides and front of the box. Keep the panel flush with the backs of the stiles and rails. Be careful to not cut the dados all the way through each board.
  6. Cut the panels to size. The ones on the side should be at the same angle as the stiles.
  7. Use the router to cut the rabbet on all the panels.
  8. Assemble the sides using pocket screws and wood glue. Slide the panels in before securing the fourth stile.
  9. Fill the pocket holes using plugs and the wood glue.
  10. Sand all the pieces of the toy box.
  11. Cut a rabbet using the table saw on the back of the two sides of the toy box.
  12. Use the router to add a curve to the front edge of both sides of the box. Sand the sides.
  13. Add a curve to the front of the box. Do this by putting a nail at the center of the desired arch, hold a scrap piece of wood tight to the bottom front corners, and trace the curve with a pencil. Cut it out using a jigsaw.
  14. Add a cleat to the bottom of the front and sides of the box to hold the bottom of the box in place.
  15. Cut a dado in the front, back, and bottom of the box to accept a divider.
  16. Assemble the rest of the box using more pocket screws and wood glue.
  17. Glue the bottom panel for the box onto the cleat, then secure it with brad nails.
  18. Repeat the process for the back of the box.
  19. Cut the center divider to width.
  20. Slide the center divider into the dados in the front and back of the box.
  21. Transfer measurements from the sides of the box to the center divider and cut it parallel to the sides using the jigsaw. The height should be slightly shorter than the side panels by about an inch.
  22. Nail the center divider to the back of the box.
  23. Cut a top shelf for the box to width and length. Round it with the router and sand. Screw it to the top of the box using pocket screws.


All the materials Tom and Kevin used to build the toy box, including the birch panels, the pine boards, wood glue, and pocket screws, can all be purchased at home centers and lumber supply stores.