DIY Herringbone Toy Box

Creative Team member, Amber is here to show us how to make a DIY Toy Box with a Herringbone design! You’re going to love it! -Linda

DIY Toy Boxdiy toy box

Hey y’all it’s Amber from jRoxDesigns and I’m so excited to be able to show you my new solution to round up all of those toys that seem to be taking over my house without sacrificing an ounce of style!

wood toy box

Let’s be honest I have a toddler in the house and my downstairs is seriously OVERRUN with toys and I needed to figure out something to do about it.  I found some old beat up wooden crates for FREE and knew I wanted to incorporate them into the project, but I wasn’t quite sure how.  So I did what everyone does and scoured Pintrest for inspiration and ended up finding a lot of great ideas!  I had a vision in my head of an easily movable, super cute toy box, with a fun pattern and a little pop of color all while spending next to nothing.

pallet wood

To start I grabbed the crates and stained all of the side pieces with a dark stain.  You could use any sort of weathered wood to get the same effect but you want to make sure the wood isn’t too thick or else the box can became really heavy really quick.  The thin pieces off of these crates were perfect for this project!

wood crate

The only downside to those lightweight pieces was that they were also pretty easy to break.  In other words…they were not going to stand up to a toddler!  So instead of using the original framework I built a 12″ x 24″ x 12″ box out of  1/2″ plywood.  I cut 2 pieces for the front and back (24″ x 12″) two pieces for the sides (11″ x 12″) and one piece for the base (23″ x 11″).

how to make toy box

One of the things I knew I wanted for my toy box was to put casters on the bottom so that it could be easily moved around.  Unfortunately, the screws for the casters were longer than 1/2″ and needed more plywood to grab onto.  So, I cut two extra pieces (11″ x 2.5″) that I glued and screwed onto the bottom edges of my base.  By doing this I now had 1″ of wood to drive the screws in.  Once my box was finished I stained the entire piece the same dark stain as the crate pieces so that you could not see the natural wood through any gaps from my pattern.

toy box plans

All right now on the fun part!  When I took apart the crates I saved all of the nails to reuse since bright and shiny new nails would look slightly out of place on a rustic looking toy box right?  But check out the problem I ran into!  All of the nails were wayyyy too long so they needed to be cut down so that they would not go through the backside of the wood.

Wooden Herringbone Toy Box by jRoxDesigns6

All it took was a pair of wire cutters and a bit of patience and the problem was solved!

Wooden Herringbone Toy Box by jRoxDesigns7

Now I had a nice collection of nails that were the right size and I didn’t spend a penny!

Wooden Herringbone Toy Box by jRoxDesigns5-2

After taking apart all of the crates I cut a handful of pieces 9 1/2″ long to start forming the pattern on the front and back of the box as well as 12″ pieces for the side.


weathered wood


For the front and back of the box I wanted to do a pattern with the crate pieces because I liked the idea of giving the toy box some personality!  I decided on herringbone because I’m seriously in love!  I would kill to have a herringbone patterned hardwood floor in my house.  Until then the toy box will just have to do!

Wood Herringbone Design

With my first attempt I was too excited to start and didn’t quite think it through.  I slapped down a whole bunch of boards and just went for it.  Although I quickly realized that by doing it this way I was going to have to cut every board at a different angle to be flush with the side of the box.  Ugh!

Herringbone Toy Box

When it came time to start the backside let’s just say I learned from my previous mistakes and I started by cutting the end of one board at a 45-degree angle and aligning it with the top edge of the box.  I was then able to lay my boards down and slowly piece my pattern together.  Now I didn’t have to change my saw blade angle every time!  See how much better it looks by doing it this way instead of the way I first did it?  The pattern is straight and clean!


how to make a herringbone design


With all of that hard work that went into cutting each board I wanted to make sure they were all securely adhered to the toy box frame by not only nailing but gluing each board down as well.  The glue also helped out because some of the boards were warped and only four nails in the corners just weren’t going to cut it.  By using the combination of both glue and nails those boards weren’t going anywhere!

Wooden Herringbone Toy Box by jRoxDesigns9

Since the nails were very short I found it helpful to hold each nail in place with a pair of needle nose pliers while hammering so I didn’t pinch my fingers!  After I finished nailing down all the boards I used a nail punch to recess the nails deeper into the wood.  By doing this I was able to make sure there weren’t any nail heads sticking out that someone could get hurt on and it made it look nice too!

Wooden Herringbone Toy Box by jRoxDesigns10

Once I finished the front and back I kept the sides simple by just placing the boards down horizontally on each end.  I could have wrapped the herringbone pattern around the corners but because I changed the way I laid the pattern out on the front and back the sides it wouldn’t have matched up.  Once I finished nailing down all of the boards I sanded the entire box down.  If you want to do a similar project with reclaimed wood and it will be around young children I would make sure that you sand down every last inch of your project!  I sanded down every edge and corner of every piece of wood on the box.  I didn’t want to take the chance of having any rough spots or any pieces that could splinter off.  I spent the longest time hanging out with my sandpaper and my box but it was worth every minute to make sure that the toy box would be safe.  Once I was done sanding I applied two coats of polyurethane making sure to wait the recommended dry time and sanding in between coats.

Wooden Herringbone Toy Box by jRoxDesigns12

I also wanted to be able to add some handles to make it easier for little hands to grab onto.  I made these real quick by drilling four circles using a 1 3/8″ forstner bit.  A forstner bit is great for something like this because you can cut smooth overlapping holes with ease!

hand holes

Of course for a little toddler on the run I added casters so she can wheel her toy box around anywhere she wants!  I picked up a set of four at the local hardware store for about $12.  Since I already had the paint, stain, and polyurethane on hand and used scrap wood for the box the casters were the only things I bought!  $12 for an entire toy box is pretty good huh?!

wood toy box

For the interior of the box I used leftover paint from an accent wall in our living room but to make sure it stood up to the abuse of all of those toys over time I applied several coats of polycrylic.  Polycrylic a clear coat top finish used to protect surfaces just like polyurethane but is water based.  As a general rule of thumb you use polycrylic over water based finishes (like indoor paint) and polyurethane over oil based finishes (like certain stains). **Quick TIP** Wait until you are completely finished assembling, sanding and staining the exterior of the toy box before painting the interior.  I got all excited again and painted before I was done only to realize that the top edges of the box needed to be sanded and I sanded down the paint at the same time.  Lesson learned!

herringbone toy box

I absolutely LOVE how it turned out and after using it for a couple months now I honestly wouldn’t change a thing about it.  I also have a little lady that sure loves it too!

Herringbone DIY Toy Box

herringbone toy box plans

So what do you guys do for toy storage?  Do you have any creative ways to keep all the clutter under wraps without sacrificing style in your house?  Tell us about it!  We’d love to hear!

Thanks for stopping by today!

happy crafting,


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Join the Conversation


  1. 1

    Hope I win!!!

  2. 2

    It’s funny now, but at the time I was devastated! My now ex-husband decided to try his hand at buying me clothes. (guys, not a good idea) When I opened my gift imagine my horror when inside was size 22 W pants and a maternity top. (he didn’t have a clue)! I laugh now, but then…

  3. 3
    Cindy Foster

    This is a great DIY project. Recycling/reusing all the materials that would normally end up in a landfill (down to the nails) is so conscientious. The little girl in the final picture will certainly appreciate the conservation effort of her mommy. Although a time consuming project, this is a much more interesting storage container than molded plastic. Love it!

  4. 5

    gah this is so awesome! I love the rustic look to it! I love using reclaimed lumber!

  5. 6

    I really love this box! i told myself after reading the post, “gosh that was a lot of work for just a cute rolling bin” but then i remembered that a) its way more awesome than what you could buy for $12 and b) it’s one of a kind and c) i do these kinds of projects ALL THE TIME and personally know that the work is worth it! i LOVE the herringbone pattern you created. headed to find your blog now… :-)

  6. 7

    Super cute idea! You can never have too much toy storage!!

  7. 8

    This is so cool and creative! I love the rustic look of the wood! Great job Linda! :-)

  8. 9

    Hi, real quick- wanted to let you know that wood pallets and crates are often fumigated or treated with toxic pesticides and fungicides that can be very harmful to humans and animals, especially children; so I would definitely do some research. Just thought I’d let you know, just in case.

    1. 9.1

      Hey Caroline! Thanks again for your response on my site but I thought I would let readers here in as well! Isn’t it scary to know that so many harmful substances can be used to treat wood? It is something that is always in the back of my mind. For this project the wood that I used was from wood crates that came directly from a food distributor. I asked ahead of time and they assured me that the crates were never treated with any chemicals so they would be food safe. You are right I would never want any of those chemicals near my little ones, especially holding all of their toys!

      1. John

        Look for the pallets with the heat treated stamp on it.. This way you know it wasn’t treated with chemicals. Will have a HT burned in the side somewhere.