Contemporary Toy Chest

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Project by FoggyGarage posted 09-07-2009 10:16 AM 6200 views 20 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This toychest was inspired by an arts-and-crafts chest on the cover of Fine Woodworking (I think that was the magazine). It’s soft curly maple and purpleheart. It’s finished with a sealer coat of blonde shellac and then water-based poly. I used the poly because it’s supposed to have some UV-fighting power, but I think the purple is already starting to fade in the sun.

All-in-all, I really like the way it came out.

I tried something new with these panels; I rabbeted them to fit in the centered grooves and then rounded over the shoulders, so the panels look a little like they bubbled out. I like the look, and I’ll probably give it another try later. I’ll take some close-ups.

As for what I would change, I am not sure I like the shape of the top. I think it’s definitely too thick.

Second, the top panels were supposed to be one large panel, but I somehow messed up my layout lines and cut down the only 13-inch wide purpleheart board in the Bay Area incorrectly. This annoyed me, and facilitated the need for a three-panel top.

Lastly, the sides are not full panels; I let the purpleheart directly into the front and rear glue-ups without surrounding them. I liked the way this looked when I dry-fit the chest, but don’t like it now. Oh well. I still think it looks good, and it’s about the most unique piece I have made so far.

16 comments so far

View woodworm's profile


14462 posts in 3556 days

#1 posted 09-07-2009 11:01 AM

Very nice design & well built.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View Scarcraig01's profile


72 posts in 3159 days

#2 posted 09-07-2009 12:51 PM

Nice looking grain selection on the front panel, I like how the straight grain is on the top, bottom, and sides, and then right in the middle is that sort of elongated x shape. The maple and the purple heart look really nice together, very nice work!

-- Craig, Springfield Ohio

View patron's profile


13600 posts in 3307 days

#3 posted 09-07-2009 01:24 PM

looks real nice , foggy !
the proud panels look real good ,
give it a bold look .

welcome to LJ’s .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3251 days

#4 posted 09-07-2009 02:29 PM

I like the top. The three panels look good and the thickness is fine…...You’ll be glad when the kids are a little older and want to use it for a seat or stool to stand on. Trust me, it will happen. The purple heart looks great with the maple. Nice job.

-- John @

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4184 days

#5 posted 09-07-2009 03:27 PM

Gorgeous! I wouldn’t change a thing. Your “mistakes” and things you would do differently look like great design features to me.

BTW, I know from personal experience that water-based poly will help keep cherry from darkening, so it should work for the purpleheart as well.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Matt Vredenburg's profile

Matt Vredenburg

189 posts in 3380 days

#6 posted 09-07-2009 04:45 PM

Foggy – this is an awesome piece of work. Great job and thanks for adding commentary regarding your process. It’s very helpful to understand ones design and though process which went into a piece. I also noticed that your design allowed the toy box to be tucked away along a short wall – nice job.

I have a 22 month old girl and need to make something for all hear little toys, and you have inspired me thank you!

-- Matt, Arizona

View Ken Reed's profile

Ken Reed

152 posts in 3150 days

#7 posted 09-07-2009 05:57 PM

Foggy – nice piece! It looks like it will hold up to the abuse that children inflict on their stuff. When my son was growing up I made him several pieces including a maple wagon. It made me wince the first few scuffs and dings that he’d put into the pieces, but when I saw how much fun he was having it just didn’t matter. “Ya gotta use up yer favorite stuff.” I do hope that you put a soft close mechanism on the lid as little fingers aren’t always where they’re supposed to be when the lid comes banging down.

The purpleheart will change color over time and become less purple, but will still be very attractive in my experience. Just one of the many pleasures of wood is watching it change over time.

I agree with Matt: I really appreciate your comments about the design/build process. Seems like we’re never totally satisfied with the result….but that’s why we keep trying!

Keep up the good work!

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2724 posts in 3558 days

#8 posted 09-07-2009 07:18 PM

Sweet looking toy chest. I would be scared to but my toys inside, if I was a kid. I would be afraid to scratch it. Welcome to Lumberjocks.

-- Dennis Zongker

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3543 days

#9 posted 09-07-2009 07:33 PM

This is a standout piece beautiful build great design and wonderful wood, congrats on super project.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Innovator's profile


3584 posts in 3379 days

#10 posted 09-08-2009 01:16 AM

Anther great project Foggy.

The center palels give it a great look.

-- Whether You Think You Can or You Think You Can't, YOU ARE RIGHT!!!

View John M's profile

John M

46 posts in 3165 days

#11 posted 09-08-2009 07:09 PM

Beautiful chest. Well done….. I really like what you did with the design.

-- John, Ontario, Canada

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3252 days

#12 posted 09-08-2009 07:45 PM

You did a really great job here. Keep up the good work


View XACX's profile


26 posts in 3077 days

#13 posted 11-21-2009 01:54 AM

Great looking Toybox

-- When life gives you lemons....Throw them at other people!

View WistysWoodWorkingWonders's profile


12758 posts in 3122 days

#14 posted 01-26-2010 12:30 AM

very nice looking toybox

-- New Project = New Tool... it's just the way it is, don't fight it... :)

View JeffG's profile


39 posts in 3881 days

#15 posted 02-25-2010 12:51 AM

The best part about solid wood toy boxes is that they are heavy, so the kids can’t push them around. Here is a random suggestion that may be an option to help the purple keep it’s color – Use Armor All. I’ve used it on some jewelry boxes and have seen very little fading. I got the tip from an employee at a Rockler store in Boston.

-- Jeff G, North Syracuse, NY

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