Toy Box

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Project by Mr_Pink posted 01-05-2018 01:55 PM 1784 views 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I built this toy box to contain (some of) the toys that my five-year-old daughter brings down from her room to our living and dining rooms. It’s mostly made from poplar that’s been finished (dye, stain and shellac) to match our dining room and other furniture. (Furniture-store cherry, my wife’s favorite color.) The floor boards are tongue-and-groove pine.

The diamond on the inside of the lid was sort of my daughter’s idea. She saw the piece of scrap I was using to practice planing a thumbnail molding and thought it was so pretty that I should square it off, plane the molding into the other edges and affix it to the front of the box. I convinced her that it would look better on the inside of the lid, and then I decided to carve her first initial into it. (Thankfully, it’s an easy initial to carve.)

8 comments so far

View Sawdustonmyshoulder's profile


489 posts in 5080 days

#1 posted 01-05-2018 02:51 PM

Beautiful toy box. I have a boat load of poplar and would love to magically transform it into cherry. Please tell us more about the finish. Brands, amounts, process, photos along the way.


-- The more skilled you are at something, the worse you are at it when someone is watching.

View theoldfart's profile


13129 posts in 3903 days

#2 posted 01-05-2018 03:46 PM

Mr. Pink, nice job. The hinges look like the Rockler torsion hinge I used on the toy box/blanket chest I made for my grandson.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4319 days

#3 posted 01-05-2018 04:12 PM

This is a very nice toy chest and beautifully done. Nice work!

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 2099 days

#4 posted 01-05-2018 05:28 PM

Good job. Nice finish on the poplar. Kudos!

View DalyArcher's profile


147 posts in 2571 days

#5 posted 01-05-2018 07:09 PM

I agree with the comments on the nice finish job on the poplar. Please explain further the process. I have a entrance shelf/coat rack on order from the wife, was thinking to use some poplar for it.

View DeLayne Peck's profile

DeLayne Peck

669 posts in 3654 days

#6 posted 01-05-2018 08:18 PM

A life-long treasure for a child! Congratulations on your first project post. Keep ‘em coming!

-- DJ Peck, Lincoln Nebraska. Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.

View MontanaBob's profile


875 posts in 4136 days

#7 posted 01-05-2018 09:23 PM


View Mr_Pink's profile


197 posts in 1824 days

#8 posted 01-06-2018 02:13 AM

Thanks for the kind words.

I don’t have pictures of the finishing process; but I can explain what I did, mistakes and all. I started with Transtint dye mixed with water. At first I used “red mahogany” with a splash of “brown walnut”. I don’t have the exact amounts, but I just covered the bottom of a small medicine cup (the kind that comes with my kid’s medicines) with brown before filling the rest of the cup with red mahogany.

This looked good on a small test piece, but gave the reddish brown I was aiming for an unpleasant purple tint. I then wiped on a slightly more diluted mix with roughly 3 parts “red mahogany” to 1 part “honey amber”. This successfully neutralized the purple without making the wood much darker.

I wiped some General Finishes “brown mahogany” gel stain on (and off) after the dye was dry. This produced a very nice, reddish brown color that was close to what you see now.

Then I made another mistake. Fearing that wiping or brushing shellac would lift some of the dye, I sprayed on a can of Zinsser shellac. I can’t say if it was the product or my inexperience, but the resulting texture looked like a fine powder had been sprayed on the wood.

I continued with my planned application of garnet shellac hoping the texture would smooth out. It did, but only after I started brushing shellac. I don’t think wiping was putting down enough in each pass.

I assembled the box after I was (mostly) happy with the shellac. I finished my finishing by wiping on a small amount of blonde shellac, sanding lightly and applying some paste wax.

I’m happy with the result (so are my wife and kid), but I wouldn’t follow the exact same steps if I were finishing poplar like this again. I would skip the brown walnut Transtint altogether, and just try a small amount of amber mixed in with the red mahogany. I would also skip the spray-can shellac.

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