Build a toy box on wheels

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Date:23 October 2014 Tags:, , ,

By Peter Alkema | Photographs By Doug Place, Peter Alkema

Children always need somewhere to put their toys. Build a toy box on wheels, which will offer the perfect storage solution. Tidying up is quick and easy as it is very convenient to wheel it back under the bed at the end of the day.

Our son keeps his most precious Lego projects in his toy box, especially those that are still under construction, so he can wheel them to wherever he wants to continue working on them. Our daughter uses her toy box to store her favourite books as well as to make a bed for dolls and teddies. The next two toy boxes I make will be for our younger set of twins, who have more fun sitting inside them and being pulled down the passage!

Design and construction
Pocket hole joinery is a technique that produces a more advanced right-angle joint between two pieces of wood, and requires a special jig and accessories. My family had given me a set of this equipment for my birthday and I used it to fasten the main corners on the toy box. The angled holes that feature in this process can be filled afterwards with pre-cut fillers while the unique wood screws are completely submerged within the two adjoining pieces of wood.

The height of the boxes, including the wheels, could not exceed the lowest edge of the front of the children’s beds, with additional clearance for fingers to allow the box to be rolled out. I determined the width by assuming two toy boxes would be used under one bed, with sufficient clearance between them. A simple plywood base and four castors (one on each corner) completed the very simple yet sturdy construction.

What I would do differently next time
The height of the toy box was designed to clear the base of the bed, allowing some space for fingers to hold the toy box and roll it out. This is not ideal, however, as there may also be a rug in front of the toy box or something else that obstructs it. If they pull the top edge of the toy box, they could bump their fingers against the bottom edge of the bed. To avoid this happening, either cut out a shallow curve on the top edge or fasten a suitable handle to the outside face. For cutting curves, see booster step elsewhere in this article.

* Toy box – Dimensions
* Toy box – Assembly diagram

Cutting list and materials

Part Quantity Thickness Width Length
A Long sides 2 19 mm 150 mm 500 mm
B Short sides 2 19 mm 150 mm 462 mm
C Base (plywood) 1 6 mm 500 mm 500 mm
D Castors 4


Project information
Overall dimensions: 500 mm long x 500 mm wide x 215 mm high
Number of parts: 9
Special equipment: Pocket hole joinery jig and accessories, Dremel
Techniques: Pocket hole joinery
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 3 hours

Step by step instructions

Make and assemble the sides
1 The toy box has three major components: the short and long sides (A x 2, B x 2), base (C) and wheels (D x 4). Have the wood cut to size or measure and cut it out with a jigsaw. The wheels are called castors and should be available from most hardware or building supply stores. See image 2.

2 Use a steel ruler and pencil to measure the location of the pocket holes on the short sides (B x 2). Typically, this will be 20 per cent of the width from the edges, as shown in image 3. Due to the nature of this joining technique, these holes will ultimately not be visible on the finished product, so the positioning need not be perfect.

3 Drill the holes in the short sides (B x 2) using the pocket hole joinery jig and the special drill bit and collar, as shown in image 4. This technique creates angled holes in the wood with a pilot hole at the base to allow for the head of the special self-tapping screw to be completely hidden once fully tightened.

4 Assemble and clamp each corner with a light-duty right-angle clamp at the top and bottom, holding the long and short sides in position. Fasten the joint by driving the self-tapping screws into the angled holes in the short side (B) using an extra-long insert bit mounted in a power drill. The pocket holes will guide the screw tip into each adjoining long side (A) to fasten the pocket hole joint. Repeat until all corners are completed in the same way and the clamps can be removed. See image 5.

Assemble the toy box
5 Attach the base (C) to the assembled sides by drilling equally spaced pilot holes around the base (C). Manually fasten the base to the sides using wood screws and a screwdriver. See image 6.

6 Pocket hole joinery kits typically come with pre-cut fillers that go into the angled holes once the screws have been fastened to create the joint. Use these to plug the pocket holes with a spot of wood glue and fill any remaining gaps with wood filler, as needed. See image 7.

Paint and mount the wheels
7 Sand down to at least 100 grit, then apply wood primer and finish with two coats of paint in a colour of your choice. Before painting the boxes, I placed them on top of nails that I had temporarily hammered into the top of the work surface. As with the booster step (featured elsewhere), this prevents the newspaper underneath from sticking to the drying paint.

8 After the paint has dried completely, fasten the castors (D x 4) to the underside of the four corners of the base (C).

Tip: Re-use the corner screws already holding the base (C), as shown in image 9.

9 The inside wood screw opposite the corner will come through the base (C) on the inside of the toy box. Use a Dremel or similar tool to grind down the exposed tip of the screw so that there are no sharp points on the inside of the box.

Need to know: The Dremel is a small, hand-held power tool that holds a high-speed rotating bit that can be used for grinding, sharpening, carving and engraving. It uses speed rather than power to do fine work such as removing points of screws that protrude above wood surfaces.

Extracted from Woodworking for Everyone, by Peter Alkema. Published by Struik Lifestyle and available from all good booksellers. Visit


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