How To Build A Toy Box/Toy Chest – DIY

How To Build a Toy Box or Toy Chest for Kids

Build a Toy Box or Toy Chest for Kids

This simple to build DIY Toy Box is constructed from one 4’x8′ sheet of MDF (Medium-density fibreboard).  The toy box could also be constructed by one 4’x8′ sheet of plywood.  The material thickness can vary for personal preference, but the plans and cut list attached use 1/2″ thick MDF.  The finished Toy Box measures 33 1/2 inches wide with a 35 inch wide top, 20 1/2 inches tall and 19 inches deep.  The Toy Box has two outside hinges for the lid and 2 soft close safety hinges on the inside to avoid smashing fingers.

Click here to download the PDF Cut List: Toy Box Cut List

Affiliate links to some of the of tools I used in this video are below.

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Table Saw
Compound Miter Saw
Palm Router
Nail Gun with Air Compressor
Pocket Hole Jig
GluBot glue bottle
Irwin Squeeze Clamps

What I use for SHOP SAFETY:
RZ mask for breathing protection:
ISO Tunes for hearing protection:

Breaking Down the Sheet of Lumber

*Be sure to label these pieces as you cut them.

To get started I cut the 4’x8′ sheet almost in half the short way with my circular saw to make handling easier.  I measured from one of the short sides to 55 inches and drew a straight line across the sheet.  I then cut the sheet into two pieces.  The shorter of the 2 pieces should measure about 41″x48″ while the larger of the two pieces should measure 55″x48″.  The larger piece is going to be used for the Toy Box Bottom, Front, Back and Legs.  The smaller piece will be used for the two Short Sides and the Top of the Toy Box.

Cut MDF in half
Cut MDF in half

Cutting the Top and Short Side Panels

To cut the two Short Side panels, measure from the 48″ side 18 inches in, draw a straight line and cut using a table saw or circular saw.  Next, cut  this piece into two square 18″x18″ pieces. These two pieces will be for the Small Side panels, or ends, of the Toy Box.  Finally, cut the remainder of this part of the 4’x8′ sheet into one 21.5″x35″ piece for the Toy Box Top or lid.

Top and Sides
Top and Sides

Cutting the Bottom, Front and Back

Next move on to the large remaining part of the sheet to cut out the Front, Back, Bottom and Legs.  First cut the sheet the long way at 33″.  This step is important to do first because the smaller of these two pieces will be used for the legs.  Next cut the piece that measures 33″x55″ into three 18″ wide pieces.  You should now have 3 pieces that measure 33″x18″.  Finally, take one of the 33″x18″ pieces and cut one inch off of one end so that the piece measures 32″x18″.  This piece will be the Bottom of the toy box.  The other 2 pieces that are 33″x18″ will be the Front and Back.

Front, Back, Bottom, Legs
Front, Back, Bottom, Legs

Assembling the Toy Box

Attaching the small sides to the Bottom

Now that we have all the pieces cut, it’s time to build a box.  Start by adding pocket holes every six inches to the perimeter of the Bottom panel.  These pocket holes will be on the floor side of the Bottom panel and not visible.  The pocket holes will attach the Front, Back and Side panels to the Bottom panel.

drilling pocket holes to Bottom panel

Next add a bead of wood glue to either the short edge of the Bottom panel or along the edge of the Side panel.

Adding Glue to Small Side panels

Use a brad nail gun or hammer and finish nails to attach the Sides and Bottom while screwing in the pocket hole screws.

Brad nail Small Side panels

A long clamp holding the 2 pieces together could also be used instead of nails.  After both Side panels are glued and held in place, add the 1 inch pocket screws through the holes in the Bottom panel.

Adding pocket hole screws to Small Side panels
Adding pocket hole screws to Small Side panels

Attaching the Front and Back to the Bottom and small Sides

The Front and Back panels are the same dimension, 33″x18″.  I added horizontal lines to the Front panel using a Router with a “V” groove bit.  I won’t go into all the detail in this post, but check out the YouTube video if you would like to learn more about the technique I used.

Using router for shiplap effect

The top of the Front panel has a strip removed.  The removal of this material serves two purposes, 1) it allows for fingers to slide under the Top to lift the lid and 2) it provides some safety for little fingers if the Top or lid were to close while fingers and hands were reaching in. To remove this strip measure out the desired distance for width and height and cut the material with a Jig Saw.

Cutting hole for handle in Front panel with a jigsaw

To attach the Front and Back panels of the Toy Box, run a bead of glue along the edges of the Bottom and Small Side panels, set the Front or Back panel in place and use brad nails to hold the pieces together.  The Front and Back panels will have to be attached one at a time and then the pocket hole screws can be screwed in from the Bottom panel into the Front and Back panels.

Attaching Front to Sides and Bottom

To add extra strength to the corners of the Toy Box, I used a counter sink drill bit to drill holes about every 6-8 inches through the Front and Back panels and into the Small Side panels and then screwed 1 inch screws through these holes.  These screws will be covered up by the Legs.

Screwing Front and Back panels to Side Panels

Before moving on to the Top panel and the legs I created the same shiplap style horizontal panels on the Small Side panels of the box with the router and “V” groove router bit.  This is an optional step and might be easier to do before attaching all of the Toy Box panels together.

Routing V groove into Side panels


Before moving on to building and attaching Legs, give everything a light sanding with 120 grit sand paper.  In my case I had to do some extra work to the side pieces since they had former life as desk top for one of my kids.  I made a mistake while cutting my pieces and had to hunt for some extra material (the story is in the video).

Cutting and attaching the Legs

Using the left over material that was set aside from the 55″x48″ panel, measure and cut the Leg pieces.  There are 6 leg pieces that are 3 inches wide and 20 inches long and 2 leg pieces that are 2.5 inches wide and 20 inches long.

Cut list for Legs

Four of the 3 inch wide leg pieces will need a 45 degree miter.  These pieces will be for the Front Legs.  The miter edge provides a seamless appearance to the front legs.  The other two 3 inch wide pieces and the two 2.5 inch wide pieces will be for the back legs.

Front Legs with mitered corners

The remaining 4 leg pieces will be used for the back Legs.  The 2 1/2 inch wide pieces will attach to the Back of the Toy Box and the 3 inch pieces will attach to the Sides of the Toy Box.  The 3 inch pieces will cover up the 2 inch pieces so that the seam will be on the back side of the box and not visible from the front or sides.

Attaching the Legs

The Legs are attached with glue and brad nails.  I made a 2 inch stand from some of the left over scrap wood to raise the Toy Box 2 inches while attaching the legs.  This step is not critical, but it was helpful to ensure that all of the legs would have the same height.

Attaching the Toy Box Lid

I used my router with a round-over bit to soften the edges of the 35″x21.5″ Toy Box Top or Lid.

Using a router to round over Lid/Top edges

I then took this Top to the table saw to cut 2 inches off of one of the long sides. This 2 inch piece will attach directly to the box and act as an anchor for the hinges that allow the Lid to open.

Attaching the Lid hinge bracket

Finishing touches

I used a wood filler to fill in all of the brad nails holes and sanded them smooth when dry.

Filling nail holes

After The Toy Box and Lid were sanded and dust was cleaned away, I painted the box white and the top black.  It was now time to add the hinges to the Toy Box lid.

Attaching Toy Box Lid hinges

As an added safety feature I installed these stay open hinges.  They prevent the lid from closing on little fingers, hands or other body parts.

Stay Open Hinge

As an added decorative touch I added these cabinet handles to the sides

Thanks for reading, good luck with your project!  If you have any questions please leave them in the comments section below.



  1. The bottom should be cut at 31.5 inches instead of 32 inches. This will make it possible for the sides to align with the front and back panels since they are 3/4 inch and the front and back panels are 33 inches (3/4 x 2 = 1.5, 33 – 1.5 = 31.5).

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