Home Projects Fine Woodworking Toy Shelf for the Living Room with a Modern Base

Toy Shelf for the Living Room with a Modern Base


Each time we visit my parents we cringe at pile of toys in the corner of their living room and decided to do something about it for them. This toy shelf is a simple shelf for the living room that incorporates some removable totes, toy shelves and puzzle shelves into one compact yet open and visible shelf unit with a modern base.

This project is built from PureBond plywood, if you aren’t familiar with PureBond hardwood plywood it is made in the USA and Canada, formaldehyde free, and available exclusively at The Home Depot.


Toy Shelf Stock Prep

This project stated where most of my project do, at the table saw. I broke down the large sheets of purebond using a combination of the table saw….

Purebond Plywood

Cross-cut sled for the cross cuts that could be managed safely.

Rockler crosscut sled

And and door-board combined with my RIDGID cordless circular saw for the larger cross cuts. (Really only the back of the shelf was too big for the table saw.)
RIDGID circular saw crosscut

Frame Assembly

I wanted to try and take a different approach to assembling this large shelf, usually I assemble the outside “box” of the frame and then add the shelves. With this one I wanted to try and only connect three sides of the frame and build the shelf out. In the end it worked pretty well but was a little bit tricky to keep everything square.

Assembling from the outside in

Since this is a painted project I glued and brand nailed into place and then added some screws for extra strength.
Adding screws to the toy shelf for strength

I used the shelves as spacers to get my measurements, for the horizontal shelves I made sure to measure the top and bottom to keep everything square.
Aligning everything using the items

Add some wood glue….Glue up

And pinned into place with 18g brad nails. I did not add any screws to the shelves as there are multiples of them to hold everything in place.Brad nails for assembly

Was sure to check for square as I went, adjusting if needed.
Checking for square

Modern Design Base

Since the shelf wasn’t the most exciting structure in the world I wanted to add a bit of class by making a mid century modern base. I started by making some of the angled cuts on the miter saw, love my miter station!

odd angles for the legs on the miter saw

I then used a table saw sled with a piece of scrap wood screwed onto it at the proper angle to make the longer angled cross cut on the legs.
cross cuts on the table saw sled

Then switched to a different sled with a stop block to cut yet another angle.vlcsnap-2017-01-04-19h51m25s438

And finally cut the legs to their proper length. Making all these different cuts worked well, I only needed minimal sanding to get everything aligned after assembly.vlcsnap-2017-01-04-19h51m36s270


After laying out where I needed the mortises I used my DIY cordless portable mortiser to make the cuts.

DIY Cordless Mortiser

And assembled using home made loose tenons and wood glue.vlcsnap-2017-01-04-19h52m19s048

Used a few scrap pieces of wood cut at an opposing angle to the legs to allow me to get even clamping pressure while gluing up the base.vlcsnap-2017-01-04-19h52m27s316

After getting the 4 sets of gets assembled I laminated two together to make a pair of thicker legs.vlcsnap-2017-01-04-19h52m34s838

After the now fully assembled legs dried I added some more mortise cuts to install the cross brace.vlcsnap-2017-01-04-19h52m43s977

And installed these using wood glue and clamps. Look at those beautiful mortises!vlcsnap-2017-01-04-19h52m53s673

Odds and Ends

Filled in all the screw and nail holes with putty, really easy to use, dries fast and is inexpensive!

wood filler for nail and screw holes

Added rails for the toy shelf totes to slide on. You can find those here (aff link): https://goo.gl/vnKRPY


Some pocket holes into the base to attach it to the main frame.pocket holes to add the base

And some paint. We went with an off white for the frame and a rick chocolate brown for the base and trim.vlcsnap-2017-01-04-19h53m31s437

Final Assembly

The back was added with with only wood screws no wood glue. No real reason for this except the screws will be plenty strong.vlcsnap-2017-01-04-19h53m41s893

Attached the base with pocket screws. I used a piece of the trim to make sure I had proper spacing all around the base.vlcsnap-2017-01-04-19h53m49s388

And added the trim using some wood glue and brad nails, really starting to look like a proper toy shelf now!vlcsnap-2017-01-04-19h54m07s777 vlcsnap-2017-01-04-19h54m30s877

Here you can see a nice shot of the base, looks great and is super sturdy!vlcsnap-2017-01-04-19h54m55s764


This was a pretty simple project to build and I think the base really adds a nice touch! Have not seen it in use since my parents Christmas tree is right where this shelf is designed to go but they really like how it looks!


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