When my kids were very young, I built a few things for them–a cradle, a toddler bed, and a toy box. But kids grow up, and if you build these things right, you eventually look around at all the kid-sized stuff you made and wonder what you’re going to do with it. So the cradle is in storage (for grandkids, maybe?) and the baby bed was given away.
But a toy box has a lot of re-purposing potential. My son, who just finished 2nd grade, has taken a real interest in woodworking. So recently we pulled out the old toy box and got ready to convert it into a small tool chest.
I made the original box for in about 2007, several years before he was born.
I had been reading in one of Roy Underhill’s books about the six-board chest, which is made from wide boards nailed together. I made my own version at my tiny workbench (in the house we lived in at the time, the workbench doubled as a kitchen island). I added the battens all around for extra strength, knowing that the box was going to be roughly used.
And indeed, the box did take a beating. It held toys and other things. It got dragged around and dumped out. It even made an appearance as the Ark of the Covenant in a church skit. Eventually my wife asked me to remove the lid so the kids wouldn’t get their fingers smashed. At some point, the box itself got stowed away, and the lid got lost for a few years in my lumber pile.
The box needed some cleaning by the time my son and I pulled it out. I reattached the lid, and everything seemed to be solid. The main thing we needed to do was to install a couple of sliding tool trays in the top.
The trays themselves are very simply constructed. The corners are rabbeted and nailed, and the bottom is nailed on. My son was very happy to help nail everything together.
We constructed two sliding tills. The top one is shallow, and the bottom one is deeper. The slide on rails that are nailed to the sides. There’s still enough space left in the bottom to store taller tools like handplanes.
Now he has a real tool chest with sliding tool trays, just like dad’s. Now all he needs are some hand tools to fill it up!
Brilliant! My son did actually ask for tools for his third birthday. We then (over a few months…) built a Japanese style toolbox (I think I found an article by Odate as the basis). Your tool chest is much nicer, and you are much more skilful than I am, but it is a lot of fun to spend time with the kids working wood.
He has a few tools by now, the deal is his sister should be allowed to use them as well.