I’ll go to any lengths to pretend we’re tidy

… I told you before, I’m not a good housekeeper. I don’t dust, I rarely sweep (I’m getting a roomba for christmas though, yay!), and mostly Sofía’s toys lie scattered all around the house like shrapnel from an explosion. Because I can’t see the point in picking them up when she’s just going to throw them around five minutes later, they generally stay where they are.

Until company comes. Then I run frantically around the house at a million miles an hour, gathering armloads of squeaky things, plastic things, shiny things, wooden things, and things that make disturbing electronic bloops and blaats, and chucking them with varying degrees of accuracy somewhere in the vicinity of the Pack n’ Play. All the toys somehow accumulate in and around the playpen in brightly colored drifts, and when our guests come I say that that area is Sofía’s play area. As if she somehow managed to keep all her toys piled in an eight-foot-square radius all by herself.

(I might add that this is the only use we have found for the Pack n’ Play. We inherited two and reveled in our riches, until we figured out why people were so eager to give them away. Ours has always been a toy receptacle – it came in really handy when we were showing our house. I have been told that the Pack n’ Plays do come in handy for people with social lives. No wonder we don’t use ours.)

Anyway, now our toy storage has graduated one step higher: the toy box. Chuck everything in and close the lid (if you can) and – get this – no one can see anything. The Pack n’ Play, alas, has mesh sides. The toy box is better at hiding stuff and has the added benefit of looking like a piece of real furniture. But have you seen the prices for toyboxes out there lately? $300 for particle-board? HMPH.

I decided to make my own.

I tried to make it look Craftsman-y, with the arches in the facing and the upright lines on the sides, even though I couldn’t possibly afford quartersawn oak and I’m not a big fan of a dark stain. It sure doesn’t look authentic, but I wasn’t out to fool anyone so I’m pleased nonetheless.

I wasn’t really choosy about the woods for this project: the plywood is birch veneer, the facings are aspen, and the lid is made of pine (because it’s light for lifting, and cheaper than aspen) boards that I jointed with dowel pins into a solid top. (Man, I never want to have to plane pine again – it did not like me). The carcasse is just butt-jointed, screwed (my first countersinking!), and glued, but the bottom has a double-thick layer of plywood on either side for added support.

I planed a bevel in the lid for easier gripping, and finished the box with my homemade oil-beeswax mix. I ran out of oil and used too much beeswax to compensate, and it was like trying to rub frozen chocolate to a smooth gloss – frustrating and time-consuming (the next time I run out of oil,  remind me to wait until I can go get more instead of going ahead anyway). On the up side, the extra beeswax made the finish opaque and ended up being the same color as the wood so that when I smooshed it into the gappy joints, it made them look seamless! (Like that corner up there – it’s SO not as good as it might look). That made me really happy. :)

Additional details that make me happy:

  • Brass corners on the front to help protect against wear and tear
  • Special toybox hinges that hold the lid at any angle so it doesn’t slam down on little fingers
  • Hidden locking casters. You thought those legs went all the way down, didn’t you? Ah HA! This baby can ROLL!

Things that make me decidedly NOT happy:

  • there was some tear-out along the edge of the plywood as I planed it. Totally obvious.
  • Also, despite trying to be really careful, I somehow attached the lid not only a bit crooked but also not quite on center. You can probably see how it doesn’t quite meet on the side facing us in that last picture… and it overlaps a bit on the other side. Sigh.
  • And oh, somehow I ended up actually attaching the lid on backwards, so that the front of the toybox is now the back. Wouldn’t be such a big deal if the supposed-to-be-back didn’t have ugly patterning and a strange series of stains across it… ARGH how could I not check that before chiseling out the hinges? The other side of the box is perfect!

Oh well. It’s 1) just a toy box, and 2) my first box larger than 6 x 11″. And I still think it turned out pretty good.

Now if only we could get Sofía to put her toys in it.

3 Responses to “I’ll go to any lengths to pretend we’re tidy”

  1. debbie swickard Says:

    WOW!!!! I am SOOOOOOOO impressed!!!! Woman, you ROCK! You remain forever my heroine! (That’s the appropriate word for a hero who happens to be female.)

    Oh, and by the way, it’s not just a toybox. It’s extra seating at the dining room table when there aren’t enough chairs to go around; it’s also an airplane and a racecar when the princess discovers how to use those wheels to her advantage. When it’s time to play hide-and-go-seek, it won’t take Sofia long to figure out how to climb inside to keep from being found. The possibilities are endless for little kids with big imaginations!

  2. diana Says:

    Aw great, just what I needed, another little voice telling me it’s ok to stockpile pretty fabric…. have you SEEN how little space I have in my craft room?! -grin-

  3. Keri Says:

    Hi Diana,
    You have a great website- fun to read, interesting hobbies, and creative. I am in my second year of the MA spanish program at ND and found an old link that you had done for the comps. It was extremely helpful!! I have only been able to find your link for El libro de Buen Amor. Would you be willing to share your other notes? Thank you for all your help!

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