Today I’m sharing a simple building project that will help take care of all that kid clutter outdoors! This DIY outdoor toy storage chest has a hinged lid and slatted sides to allow damp toys (like water guns and buckets!) to dry.
As we’ve been remodelling the exterior of house, we’ve been spending a ton of time outside. The kids play in the backyard while we work on the decks or stripping siding and that’s been amazing (such a beautiful summer!) but the toys everywhere have been making us a bit crazy. They had a plastic tote to put all their toys away but the toys had outgrown the bin… so they were left in heaps and in our way as we work in the evening. Plus… the more we have finished out there, the less I’ve wanted a black and yellow plastic tote kicking around! I wanted something beautiful, functional for toy storage, and large enough to hold all those buckets and diggers and little lawn mowers and balls.
But my hesitation was that traditional toy chests would hold all the water that I know my kids would put away with the toys. They’re such water babies and I wanted those toys to be able to dry out and not get a musty smell. This design takes a simple chest design and spaces the boards on the sides and the bottom for a slatted look and to allow airflow. Want the free plans and DIY tutorial? Read on, friends!
Ok, first off… this chest is giant, yes. But we have four kids and a giant amount of outdoor toys. If you’d like yours smaller, just adjust your measurements! The tutorial stays the same, just with shorter pieces.
To Make Your Outdoor Toy Storage Chest, You’ll Need:
- 1×4 Boards (22x 8ft)
- 2×2 Boards (2x 8ft)
- 1×2 Board (1x 8ft)
- Miter Saw
- Kreg Jig (I used the K4)
- Drill with 1/16 bit for pilot holes
- 1 1/4″ Kreg Screws
- 1″ Screws
- 120 Grit Sandpaper + Sander
- Ebony Stain + Outdoor Clear Coat
- Long hinge, hinge supports
The first thing you’ll need to do is cut your wood to size. This is dependent on the size of your toy chest, but here’s the measurements I did for a roughly 2x4x2 chest:
- 12 1x4s cut to 4 ft
- 6 1x4s cut to 3’5″ (one will need to be ripped down on the table saw)
- 2 1x4s cut to 2 ft
- 25 1x4s cut to 1’9″
- 4 2x2s cut to 2’2″
- 2 1x2s cut to 4ft
After all your pieces are cut, I started with building the front and back sides. Before you can build them, you need to drill all your pocket holes. Do this on both ends of the 1x4s cut to 4 ft (12 of them). Make sure your Kreg Jig is set to the proper settings for your boards and get going! Pay attention to make the pocket holes on the same side of the boards so they will all be on the inside of your chest.
Once the pocket holes are drilled, you can attach them to the 2×2 legs. start by attaching the top board flush with the top of the 2×2 board. use a scrap piece of your 1×4 as a spacer, then attach the next board. My chest is made 6 boards high.
Once both the front and back panels are complete, do the same with the end boards. Drill your pocket holes in each end of 12 1x4s that are cut to 1’9″. Then, attach them to the sides of your 2×2 legs and you’ve created your box just without the top and bottom. Now to build the bottom!
For the bottom, I just attached the 1×2 to the bottom slat using the 1″ screws. It’s important to drill pilot holes to prevent splitting. After finishing this part- I did think it might have been a good idea to do a pocket hole on each end of the 1×2 so it was also attached into the legs. Hindsight, right?
Once the 1x2s are on, I laid the rest of the 1’9″ cut 1x4s on the bottom and spaced them closer than the sides, but still allowing water to get through. I used brad nails just to tack them in place.
Last but not least, the lid! Put pocket holes in the ends of your last long boards and then pocket holes on some edges of the boards to help keep it tight to keep more water from getting into the toy chest. Screw them into the shorter boards on either end and to one another. We did rip one of the boards down- we put that one in the middle to keep it symmetrical.
Before we put the lid on, we gave it a light sand to smooth it all out.
We installed the hinge next, you’ll want an extra set of hands to hold the lid in place while you screw in aaaaall those screws. Make sure to drill pilot holes again to keep from splitting. We also added in hinge supports on either side to keep the lid from closing too quickly and trapping little fingers. This is totally optional.
Then you can give it a stain (or not!) and finish it with an outdoor rated clear coat. We used ebony stain from Minwax (my all time fave stain). If you’re new to stain, you can see how to stain wood here.
Then fill it up with toys! I only put a few in for photos but it’s totally fill to the brim.
I’m so happy with this toy storage chest! It’s so big but also tucks away perfectly in this corner of the yard. And I know it’s going to be such a nice change to have all the toys out of sight after bedtime!
This project was fun for me to make- this is the first project in a long time that I’ve done on my own. Usually since the kids are running around, it’s easier to wait for Shane to be home to help balance the kids and power tools but this one I managed to finish even with the kids around. So I’m especially happy with this toy chest!
Curious what else you could make with the Kreg Jig? We’ve made quite a few projects with it now! Like this table and this one, this thread shelf, this essential oil storage, this countertop and these guitar holders.