Stupid Newbie Question about Design Issues

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Hello All,
Long time lurker, 2nd time poster...
I am still very new at this woodworking stuff. I have decided to make a toybox. It is going to be a pretty basic box, which my oldest son (very artistic) will base paint a light color, then hand paint with animals and toys and such. The rough dimensions are 18" deep, 20" high and 36" wide.
My wife wants me to keep the materials cost to a minimum, and since it will be painted, I'm opting for plywood. My question is about the thickness. My original thought was 3/4 inch ply, but I'm now starting to wonder if that is unnecessarily thick, making the toybox unnecessarily heavy. So I guess I'm hoping for your input on two questions:
1 - If you were building a toy box of these dimensions, and you were going to use plywood to do it, would you use 3/4 or 1/2?
2 - Where would I find some kind of guidelines or rule-of-thumb about things like this (other than looking back in 20 years at my experiences...)?
Thanks for the help, and for all the great posts!
dw
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Plywood is fine for a project like you describe. 1/4" or 3/8" ply veneer or prefinished panels would be adequate. The important part is the frame. I would suggest a 1-1/2" X 1-1/2" box frame rabbeted to receive the plywood panels. Use a heavier piece of plywood for the bottom with full bearing on the inside frame. Make a detail drawing of every part with dimensions to follow during construction. Dry fit the frame and check all the joints, then glue the panels into the slots. This is a very light and strong construction method. Done with a nice hardwood frame and veneered plywood it could be a nice showpiece, or make it from A/C plywood and pine 2" X 4"s for a cheap job. Bugs
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About 38 years ago I made one with that size frame. the plywood was nailed onto it. Lasted through two kids, a couple of grandkids, now is my wife's storage box. Still in very good condition.
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I might just but him one!

--
www.connoraston.com
If I cant make it - I'll Try!
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Just one word of caution from an old woodworker who raised two sons to manhood:
Children will sit on boxes. Children will even stand on boxes in the strangest of circumstances.
I doubt that a 1/2" plywood box would withstand the weight of a 10-12 year old boy.
Norm
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Tue, Jan 10, 2006, 3:15pm (EST+5) snipped-for-privacy@att.net (NormDresner) doth proclameth: <snip> Children will sit on boxes. Children will even stand on boxes in the strangest of circumstances. I doubt that a 1/2" plywood box would withstand the weight of a 10-12 year old boy.
I've said it before, I've said it again, and I'll said it again. For little kids, no top on the toy box.
If the top is properly braced, I don't see why 1/2" ply wouldn't hold. I make my knock-down bookshelves with 1/2" ply, and I can sit on them with no prob. I also make my knock-down kid's rockers from 1/2" ply, and I can stand in them with no worry about them holding.
I made a toy box, years back, and it's now held in possession by my grand-dau. Ends were 1/2" ply, in the shape of large frogs, and I think the rest was also 1/2' ply. It's all glued together, with glue blocks along the inside joings No top. Probably 8-9 years old now, and holding up fine. Looks great, except for some now unknown reason I painted the sides dark blue - the froggy ends are froggy colors - probably blue was the only other color I had.
JOAT You'll never get anywhere if you believe what you "hear". What do you "know"? - Granny Weatherwax
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If I was going to make a toybox, I have a hankering to make a "red barn" shaped box, as illustrated in Lon Schleining's "Treasure Chests"

Plywood is good. Birch ply is lighter weight too, although more expensive.
I'd use 1/2", but this will require a little framing around it. You can either rmake a full-blown frame and panel chest with plywood inserts (not too hard, but lots of mortices to cut) or else make a simple plywood box with stiffening fillet blocks inside the four corners.
I'd suggest making a solid timber frame for the top (with four pegged bridle joints, as they're easier to make than mortices) and a plywood insert, but just doing the box body with plain plywood and inner reinforcements. Make the lid frame big enough to sit directly on the reinforcements. Biscuit jointing the lower box would be the easiest and quickest way to assemble it. Then tidy it up by running a band of timber (either some ready-shaped house trim, or just a thin board with a chamfered top) around the base to make a plinth. You could do it at the top too, but just overhanging the lid by 5/8" would look as good.
Get one of Lee Valley's toybox lid dampers too. These are a viscous damper and much better than gas struts or springs.
Don't make it too big. It's surprising how big and awkward a chest can be to live with, especially if it's getting pulled around the floor.
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Tue, Jan 10, 2006, 4:48pm (EST+5) snipped-for-privacy@codesmiths.com (AndyDingley) tip toes in and whispers: If I was going to make a toybox, I have a hankering to make a "red barn" shaped box, <snip>
That for you. Heh heh. Personally, I think that once a kid gets a few years, and his buddies, come over, he won't care much for a barn toybox. Of course, if it's gonna be passed on to a younger kid later, no prob. If the same kid is gonna keep it, I'd make an open topped box, for when he/she's little, painted bright colors maybe. Then maybe put a hinged top on it later, no latch, air hole. At some point, I'd say refinish it, au natural, or paint of the kid's choice. Could even put a latch and/or latch on it later. An 18 year old girl would be a lot more likely to want a nicely painted chest, with stenciled pictures, then an 18 year old boy - unless you made it look like a Bud beer case, he'd probably like that. LOL
JOAT You'll never get anywhere if you believe what you "hear". What do you "know"? - Granny Weatherwax
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On Tue, 10 Jan 2006 14:44:11 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (J T) wrote:

Toy boxes aren't for kids, they're for fathers (or grandfathers).
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Tue, Jan 10, 2006, 8:58pm (EST+5) snipped-for-privacy@codesmiths.com (AndyDingley) now claimeth: Toy boxes aren't for kids, they're for fathers (or grandfathers).
I'm both. The toybox I want is large enough to let me rebuild (and build up) a 350 Old V8, and then hold the car while I put 'em together. I think I'll paint it to look like a barn, with cows in the windows.
JOAT You'll never get anywhere if you believe what you "hear". What do you "know"? - Granny Weatherwax
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On Tue, 10 Jan 2006 17:34:28 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (J T) wrote:

Last time I was a dairy farmer I lived in Northern Ireland. Over in Ireland (Eire) Landrovers and particularly Discoveries are popular, but the tax on them is very expensive. So it's common to see the "van" model (which you very rarely see in England) which has no rear windows and so dodges the "luxury car" tax. I saw one once that had cow "passengers" painted on these steel windows.
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Wed, Jan 11, 2006, 1:10am (EST+5) snipped-for-privacy@codesmiths.com (AndyDingley) doth admit: <snip> I saw one once that had cow "passengers" painted on these steel windows.
I would have thought something like this would have been more appropriate, given the place.
http://leovilletownsquare.com/incoming/654243-leprechaun_mooning.gif
JOAT You'll never get anywhere if you believe what you "hear". What do you "know"? - Granny Weatherwax
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You can't make it too strong. Don't assume the kids will just use it to store toys. The toy box might make a great submarine or fort -- and they'll climb all over it.
dw wrote:

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dw wrote:

I just finished building 5 plywood boxes 14" X 14" X 30" for Boy Scouts to haul camping gear in. 1/2 inch is plenty strong IF you use cabinet grade hardwood plywood. I'd use 3/4 if I were building with lower grade plywood. I built one prototype first to test of capacity and strength. We had two scouts with a combined weight of about 400 pounds sit on the box without significant deflection of the top.
I ripped some oak scraps into 3/4 X 3/4 strips and glued them along all inside corners to strengthen the joints. After gluing the box, round over all edges with 1/4 radius bit for safety/esthetics. He'll be able to pass it down to his grandchildren.
DonkeyHody "I'd rather expect the best from people and be wrong than expect the worst and be right."
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Tue, Jan 10, 2006, 9:39am (EST-3) snipped-for-privacy@bellsouth.net (DonkeyHody) doth claimeth: <snip> 1/2 inch is plenty strong IF you use cabinet grade hardwood plywood. I'd use 3/4 if I were building with lower grade plywood. <snip>
Anything going in my shop, tool stands, etc., is made from the cheapest 1/2" plywood I can get. No problem at all with strength issues.
JOAT You'll never get anywhere if you believe what you "hear". What do you "know"? - Granny Weatherwax
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J T wrote:

Joat, I'm sure you're right about strength not being a problem. After all, the cheapest 1/2" CDX works for roof decking supported on 24" centers. But you've got to admit that hardwood is stiffer. I just like my stuff to be strong and solid-feeling.
DonkeyHody "We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it - and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again---and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore." - Mark Twain
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DonkeyHody wrote:

Well, let's clarify that. The cheapest CDX is usually 3-ply... which is significantly inferior to the standard 4-ply usually found in new home construction.
That said, ANY 1/2" material (and to a lesser degree 3/4" spf) is going to be a little flimsy at 24" centers. The deck is made FAR stiffer if 16" centers are used.
Are 24" centers "good enough"? According to nearly all building codes it is. But building codes can be thought of as the minimum that will be accepted. From there it's your call ;-)
Joe Barta
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Joe Barta wrote:

We're sort of like the blind men and the elephant. The reason we can't agree is that we're talking about different things. Some are plenty happy if the roof (or box) doesn't cave in, and they have one idea of "strong enough". Others want a good solid feel when they jump up and down on it, and for them "strong enough" means something entirely different.
DonkeyHody "We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it - and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again---and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore." - Mark Twain
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DonkeyHody wrote:

Never heard of that. I'll either have to look it up or you'll have to explain it.

Are we not reasonable men? Of course we can find agreement ;-)

Point well taken. And of course, cost has to be taken into account. If by choice and design the budget is tight, then it may not be strong enough for anybody... but it may have to do anyway.
That said, assuming a budget that is not cut to the bone and the desire that the roof can withstand a little jumping around, I think you'd agree that 16" centers is the way to go ;-)
Joe Barta
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Tue, Jan 10, 2006, 10:53pm (EST+5) snipped-for-privacy@apk.net (JoeBarta) publically admits: <snip> Never heard of that. I'll either have to look it up or you'll have to explain it. <snip>
You've never heard that one? It was probably first told by Noah. Where've YOU been? I suppose that means you've probably never heard the one about an elephant being a mouse designed by a committee, either.
JOAT You'll never get anywhere if you believe what you "hear". What do you "know"? - Granny Weatherwax
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