– Ben Martens

Toy Shelf

Many months ago, Tyla shared an idea to have some shelves in the family room to hold Elijah’s toys. It would not only be a place to store things, but also a place to rotate different toys on display to encourage Elijah to play on his own. I kept finding excuses to do other things but finally I decided to give it a go.

I started with a drawing in Sketchup to get an idea of the spacing and also make sure that Tyla was on board with the design. The whole structure ended up being 7 feet long. I’ve learned that big projects are a bit tough to deal with in the garage, but this was an easy one, right?

sketchup shelves

I ran into quite a few problems when building these. I did the initial glueup wrong and had to rip the nails out before the glue dried to start over. The edge banding didn’t stick nicely in all the areas. And I miscalculated and made the drawers 1/2″ too wide. But that’s part of the fun of woodworking. Nothing goes perfectly, at least in my workshop, and I’m presented with lots of opportunities to find interesting solutions. One of my favorite YouTube woodworkers is Steve Ramsey and when he has a major screwup, he makes the fix and says that it’s now “EXTRA FANCY!” These shelves are definitely extra fancy, but you know what? They work. Elijah is just going to beat them up anyway. I’m not building an heirloom. I’m building a toy shelf that we’ll throw in a bonfire after he’s older and we want something else there instead.

The bottom two drawers are only half as deep as the opening. Ever since we moved in, we’ve had a cardboard box covering up a bunch of ugly wires and a battery backup for the TV. I designed a void behind the drawers where I can hide all that stuff and there is also a space for a bunch of cables to run the length of the shelves back to the plugs. The top of the unit still fits snugly against the wall so all that is finally hidden.

Given the size of the project, I wanted to try spraying them. I even borrowed Don’s paint sprayer, but when I finally got around to spraying, the air was full of seeds and pollen. I ended up just taking the time to brush and roll it all, sanding between coats.

Now it’s on to the next project… it will definitely be something smaller!