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Why is this Grandpa's (or Grandma's) toy chest? Not the kid's toy chest? Because this is a piece of living room furniture, suitable for use as an extra seat in a party. Because it is furniture quality, built to last for several generations, not made from painted or plastic covered particle board. The piece of furniture that grandma or grandpa might be pleased to have in their living room - a hiding place for the angels's books and toys, and an extra seat or table when the grandchildren aren't around. And because federal regulations make it impractical for me to build kids furniture.
This version has a couple drawers at the bottom, with hidden pulls for little hands, that are great for books and crayons. The stuffed animals really fit inside, and the top is a comfortable adult seat, as is, or with an upholstered cushion.
What makes this a toy chest instead of a blanket chest? The lid stays open at any position, using a support approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The lid opens easily, and stops at any point. The continuous tension prevents lids from slamming shut on little fingers, yet leaves the toys accessible to a child.
This is the natural cherry wood color, with no stain or dye. The wood was almost white to start, but quickly turned this beautiful warm tan color. As all cherry, it will gradually darken further, and in a century or so, may be the dark reddish brown associated with cherry antiques. (Or maybe will never get that dark, because of the quality of today's colorless finishes.) The finish is numerous coats of clear lacquer, rubbed to a satin finish.
This unit was built from cherry, with solid legs and edges, and furniture grade cherry plywood sides. The two drawers are solid red oak with dovetail front and back, attached to the cherry front. The 2 1/2 inch tapered legs could be even shorter, with swivel locking casters replacing a couple inches of the leg height. The bottom of the chest is Baltic Birch plywood, ample to support any load of kids or toys, even jumping inside the chest.
This piece could equally have been built with walnut, mahogany, oak, pecan, or any other furniture wood. The sides could be solid wood in raised panels for a more formal look.
$750 as shown, $600 without drawers
When a kid is young, a mother goose or Mickey Mouse or circus or fire truck toy chest is really cute... for a few years. Buy a cheap, colorful, toy box from Ikea or WalMart that will last a few years then be ready for the landfill. Unfortunately I have seen some very nice custom made toy boxes that will be too nice (expensive) to discard when the kid outgrows the theme, but will not be a good treasure chest for a teenager nor a good blanket chest for a young professional. As the heirloom gift, the kid will be obligated to preserve it ... even if it is in the attic.
The "grandpa's toy box" that I built, above, was loved by the grandkids (I have seen pictures of them hugging it with glee), and is also suitable furniture it an adult environment, whether in the grandparents home or in the high school or college room, or the young adult's apartment. It will certainly last for generations, and will not need to be relegated to the attic.
Width: This unit is 36 inches wide at the top, about 33 inches inside the toy box. When this unit was shipped, if it had been a fraction of an inch larger (or the packing had been a tiny bit thicker), it would move to the next larger class of package, and the shipping cost would have risen more than $150. If there is a chance of shipping, I might make this an inch or two smaller, since it won't seat more than one adult anyway. On the other hand,if you want to store blankets rather than toys, and need more space, we have an attractive antique blanket chest that is 48 inches wide.
Height: Based on the height of wooden chairs, the seat is 18 inches high. It is very comfortable to sit on, so consider this a good height for the living room. The antique blanket chest is 22 inches high, and goes well at the foot of the bed, but is not as comfortable to sit on. The rail on the side and back (to keep a potential cushion from falling off) adds more than an inch of overall height.
Depth: This unit is 18 inches deep, similar to a typical chair, buffet, or chest of drawers. The antique blanket chest is 22 inches deep.
Drawers The two drawers are about 4 inches high on the outside, giving about 3 inches storage height in the drawers. We really like the drawers, but they do add a significant amount of work to building the chest, which is why the chest with drawers is more expensive.
Lid: The hinges is a full length piano hinge. The lid support is especially designed for toy boxes, and selected for the weight and size of the lid (this 11 pound lid, 18 inches wide, requires about 100 pounds force from the support - who would have guessed!). The 2 inch high boards on the side and back may keep some crayons from rolling behind, even if it isn't needed to hold a cushion. The front edge had a 3/8 inch roundover on the top, and 1/4 inch roundover on the bottom.
Shelves: There is no tray or shelf inside this toy box. If it were the larger blanket chest, you might want a removable tray, roughly half the width of the chest, in the upper quarter of the chest.
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©2004 by Charles A. Plesums, Austin, Texas USA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
We primarily serve Austin and the Central Texas area, but travel to the DFW area periodically and are glad to serve the Garland, Plano, Dallas, and other North Texas areas, and are willing to ship anywhere.