This is the best and cheapest toy storage idea for a garage. It doubles as a bench while removing wet, muddy, snowy, boots and shoes.
Here are approximate sizes for a toy box, toy storage box, or garage toy storage solution: four feet long by two feet wide by eighteen inches high. Depending upon whether or not it is built in place, as a permanent garage storage cabinet and mounted to the wall as part of the structure or if is built to be movable, will determine how much wood you will need to buy. I have built about six toy storage boxes and they have been built both ways.
The instructions that follow are for a movable toy storage box. My toy boxes were used for sports equipment, like baseball bats and balls, gloves, golf clubs, horseshoes and croquet, badminton and tennis. It’s use changed over the years as interests changed. Because of the tools I have to work with, I can start with a full sheet (four foot by eight foot) of plywood. It is the cheapest way to purchase the material. If your tool inventory does not include a table saw, you will require a power hand saw to cut panels to exact dimensions. To reduce your cutting you may want to start with purchasing some sheets of plywood already cut to eighteen inch by four foot size. They are typically available from a lumberyard or home improvement center as 2′ by 4′ handy panels. You will need 2 pieces of two foot by four-foot plywood and 3 pieces eighteen inch by four feet (or one sheet of four foot by eight plywood and one extra piece typically sold as a 2′ by 4′ size). Keep the cut offs from the lumber yard, The thickness of the lumber is a matter of choice. One half inch thick is the minimum and three quarter of an inch is the thickest, that I have used. The half inch thick is cheaper, less sturdy and requires some corner posts, but is lighter weight and easier to move around. The three quarter inch thickness is sturdier, does not require corner supports, and is much heavier to move around when full. I would use five-eighths inch thick if available at your lumberyard. Now, to understand these instructions, you have to visualize a rectangular box about the dimensions given in the first line above. The controlling dimension on this type of box is the size of the lid or top of the toy box (24″ by 48″). From experience, if the box is built with the lid overhanging the front edge about one half inch,
there is no need for a handle with which to lift the lid. The flat top can then be used for a seat on which to sit while putting on and taking off muddy shoes, boots, etc. The lid is designed so that it rests on top of all four walls over which it covers. This means that when cutting the wood to size, the bottom piece is cut so that it fits on the inside of the four side walls, which allows the top to overlap and rest on the top of the four walls. The overlapping lid design the is way most toy boxes are built for strength and durability, when designed as a seat upon which to sit.
Here are the dimensions of each of the panels using 5/8-inch thick plywood
1.) The front and back panels are identical to each other. Their size is 48 inches wide by 18 inches high by the wood thickness (in this case 5/8 inch)
2.) The two side panels are identical to each other. Their size is 18 inches high by 22-1/4 inches wide. This dimension is determined by taking the 24 inch overall size of the lid and deducting the thickness of the wood times two (front and back) plus an extra half inch or more for the overhang. (Here is the math: 24″ panel minus 2 wood thicknesses minus 1/2″ for the overhang). They are fitted in between the front and back panels
3.) The bottom panel is cut to fit inside the four sides. It’s size is best determined after assembling the four sidewalls together, but if 5/8 inch thick lumber is used the dimension would be 22 -1/4 inches wide (24inch lid width size, minus 1/2 inch overhang, minus two thicknesses of 5/8 inch wood (48 inches wide minus two times the wood thickness of 5/8″ equals 1-1/4 inches plus the 1/2″ overhang.
4.) The top panel remains uncut at the full 2 foot by four foot by 5/8 inch size. (Or see option at bottom of article)
PAM Brand Deck Screw
Use Philips head, 2 inch to 2-1/2 inch long deck screws every eight inches to fasten the box together.
Start by pre-drilling the front and back panels and countersinking for the tapered screw head.
Then use a corner clamp or home made holding fixture to align the side panels to the front panel while drilling a small pilot hole into the plywood edge of the side panels (this is to prevent the screw diameter from bulging the wood thickness while entering. After pre-drilling, begin attaching the front panel to first one side, then the other side while resting all materials on a flat surface. After the side panels are attached to the front panel, duplicate your actions for attaching the back panel to the two sides. When done with this step you should have a rectangle shape with four walls and no top or bottom. The next step is to affix the bottom to the work you have done so far. The bottom should be square cut to fit tightly inside the rectangle. While resting this work on a flat large table surface, with the bottom panel in place on the bottom, move the entire piece close to an edge so as to get clear access for drilling and countersinking the pilot holes. Drill one end first, then the other end, then do either of the remaining sides next; then screw together the last side until complete. When this is done, the result is a box with a finished size 18 inches high by 24 inches wide by 23-1/2 inches deep (the lid will overlap ½ inch and act as a handle for lifting the lid).
The next step is to fasten the lid in place. The very best hinge to use for this is a Stanley brand piano hinge.
Stanley Brand Piano Hinge
They come in various lengths. For this project purchase a 48 inch length. It is fastened first all along the edge of the lid of the toy box itself. For this step, purchase ½-inch long screws and screw them into every hole. The position of the hinge is properly placed when the round hinge edge sticks out from the back of the box evenly along the entire edge about 3/16th to ¼ of an inch. Assembling the top to the rest of the box can be a bit of a struggle to hold in place, so use a helper if available. If not, then position the box on the floor and support the lid in place with stacks of wood to get to 18 inches high (the height needed on which to rest the lid while finish fastening it to the box). The hinge is screwed into the back wall using 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inch tapered flat head screws slightly larger than the hole into which it is being inserted. Start by drilling a small pilot hole for the ends and middle. When doing this step it is best to insert screws in both ends and one in the middle to test the position and ease of opening and closing before finishing up the rest of the screws. After testing the lid opening and closing is found to be satisfactory and no further adjustment is needed, complete the assembly of the lid to the box. The project is now complete.
Here are a couple of tips regarding design of this toy storage solution. Because the box is 18 inches high, there will be some excess wood left over. From an approximately 6 inch wide piece, cut four triangular shaped pieces as supports or for fastening casters to the bottom four corners if desired. Mount the triangles flush to the outer edges fastening them into the vertical walls for added strength.
A variation of the top can be made instead of a 24 inch by 48-inch piece, cut the top into two pieces possibly 20 inches and another 4 inches. Fasten the 4 inch piece along the back panel at the top just as if it was the original 24 inch wide piece and then attach the piano hinge to this piece and the 20 inch piece as the top follow same piano hinges instruction as above). What this design variation provides is a way to lean the lid back against a wall for support when opened, which the original design does not.