Child's Toy Box Chest Seat

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Blog entry by jakub76 posted 08-21-2011 07:51 AM 3658 reads 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I wanted a chair for my daughter’s cubby house and was looking to buy something 2nd hand. I came across a chunky pine post in my back shed and inspiration struck. I decided I could make a chest that could provide some storage for toys and double as a bench seat – I also wanted to get my head around this mortise and tenon business.

I marked everything out and cut all of my tenons then cleaned them up with chisels. All hand tools so far, by necessity.

I marked each mortised against it’s unique tenon (unique due to my limited skill not by design). I used a power drill to core out the mortises and chisels to square them.

Then I needed grooves to house the panels and floor. As I only have simple tools I used my dovetail saw to make the grooves and a chisel to widen them. A dry fit helped me determine where I still needed to widen grooves or trim panels.

I shaped the legs by marking a straight length part way down the leg then I took a thin piece of waste wood and bowed it to form the curve of the leg, traced that and cut along the line. The first leg was shaped with a hand saw, coping saw, rasp and sand paper – what a PITA! I dug out my old jigsaw for the remaining three legs, much easier.

I sanded everything prior to glue-up as I found boxes can be difficult to sand once complete. I glued up one end and let it dry just to buy me some time during the main glue-up. It was a little stressful, I get worried when the wood expands and your joints don’t fit anymore. Also my lack of clamps didn’t help but I strapped an old pulley belt around the carcass, protecting the wood from marring with some rags. I tied the belt to a long offcut and wound it really tight, popped a big old brick on top and left it to dry overnight.

Next I needed to square off the top of the carcass. I did this by clamping it to my verandah railing and hand planing the legs flush with the rails. I used a scrap piece behind each leg to avoid chip-out. I used ply for the lid, an offcut I had in my laundry. The fit was good until I mortised the hinges, the lid didn’t want to fit right at the front and the plywood quickly stripped from my repeated insertion and removal of the hinge screws. I eventually bought guage 10 screws and cut them short. The lid still doesn’t quite close at the front on it’s own weight and that sucks but it’s plenty functional for it’s intended purpose. Also as there’s a bit of distance between the front of the lid and the top rail there’s very little chance of getting pinched by this little lid opening. If it was a piece of furniture for the house I would buy a board and make a new lid.

7 comments so far

View albachippie's profile


772 posts in 3059 days

#1 posted 08-21-2011 10:53 AM

Fantastic job Jakub, I love the detail. Your little girl looks very pleased too! You did a great job with those joints. I also love how the cushion fabric ties in with the house roof. Did you build the house too?

Thanks for sharing this with us,

and welcome to LJs


-- Garry fae Bonnie Scotland

View jakub76's profile


56 posts in 2496 days

#2 posted 08-21-2011 11:50 AM

Thanks for your kind words Garry.
Well spotted re: the canvas top. The cubby house was a weathered hand-me-down from our neighbours. I spent some time fixing, sanding, refinishing and painting it.

I bought some canvas to restore the awning and used the offcuts for the seat cushion, still have enough left for a curtain or replacement cushion cover if need be :)


View Vicki's profile


1099 posts in 3369 days

#3 posted 08-22-2011 03:48 AM

You did a wonderful job. I love the curves and lines of it. I love the cushion as well. Amazing job for using hand tools. Cudos to you.

-- Vicki on the Eastern Shore of MD

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 2384 days

#4 posted 12-22-2012 12:10 AM

Seeing what a fantastic job you did here…with limited tools…there should be no reason anyone ever whines about needing more/fancier tools to make nice things…this is phenomenal congrats!

-- Steve

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3601 days

#5 posted 12-22-2012 12:20 AM

Wondenful little bench ,That beautiful shinning smile on your Daughters face says how she feels about it.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View DocSavage45's profile


8589 posts in 2867 days

#6 posted 05-19-2013 06:03 PM

She’s one happy camper. Looks like her smile is Dad’s payment? LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View DocSavage45's profile


8589 posts in 2867 days

#7 posted 05-19-2013 06:04 PM

Nice playhouse. You build it?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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