Friday, August 30, 2013

Building a Kids Tool Box

See, just a little guy!
Ever since he was just a little guy, Godzilla has been in love with tools. It started when he was just walking, and he picked up my cordless drill (no bit in it of course) and carried it around with him, with the biggest grin on his face. We knew right then, what he would be getting for Christmas that year.

Fast forward four years to today. He got some money for his birthday, so we made a trip to Toys R Us. What did he find to buy, but a tool set. While we had looked at everything, from Lego to superheros to cars and trains, once we found a real tool set with a real tool belt, and a wooden dump truck he could build with it, the decision was made.

Then we came home and he let me know in no uncertain terms that he would not be building his truck until he had a tool box to keep his new tools in.
So I drew up a few ideas for him and let him pick what he thought would work best. Did he pick the simple open top tote? No. Did he want the taller box with handles on the ends? Nope. Instead, he found Dad's tool box and said he wanted it to look just like that. Complete with drawers, nail compartments, hinges and latches, rubber feet, the works. So we decided to compromise.

The next morning, after the coffee was made of course, we set to work. I had some scrap wood (10' x 9 1/2" x 3/4") in the garage and picked up a few hinges and latches from the hardware store down the road. I used a few power tools to speed things along, but you could get this done with just hand tools if you don't have access to the dark side.

Starting with a tape measure and a square, we measured three 16" pieces for the front, back and top, two 7 3/4" end pieces, and one 14 1/2" piece, also cut down to a width of 6 1/4" to fit the bottom. A circular saw made quick work of the boards, though a hand saw would do just fine. Of course, use care when operating power tools, safety glasses and closed toed shoes for starters, and kids should always have supervision if they are old enough to use them. Godzilla at 5, naturally isn't old enough yet to handle the big guys, so while he helped measure and mark, he only got to watch the power saw in action.

Once we had the six pieces we needed, it was time to sand. Use an orbital sander or a sanding block, or simply pick up a sheet of fine grit sand paper to clean up the edges. You want a smooth edge to avoid splinters down the road. This is a great step for the kids to get involved in, as the sanding goes quickly and they can see results right away. Of course, be sure not to keep your coffee too close to your work, or you'll end up with sawdust in it, which would be a travesty, and the whole project would come to a complete standstill while you went to brew some more.

With the pieces prepared, we drilled a few nail holes to make it easier for the little man to use his new hammer to assemble the box. Of course, cordless drills are easy enough to do a double team with your kid, you support and line things up, then let them squeeze the trigger, always keeping your hands on it so you control where the drill bit goes.

Now we're really into the fun part. Using finishing nails, we placed them in the holes we predrilled, and he got to swing away with his new hammer, the first time he's gotten to swing a hammer actually made for hands his size. And he did pretty well with it. This is great for his hand-eye coordination, as he has to line up the head of the hammer with each nail some 20 times per nail. As each side goes on, it begins to take shape, and you can start to see the box emerging.

If you were working with new wood, you could leave it bare and enjoy the nice wood finish, but since we're using painted wood I repurposed from a different project, we picked a color and set to painting. Black was the color of choice, but he also wants some red stripes, so we'll see what we can work out down the road to embellish it with. A few sweeps of black spray paint to cover the outside of the box and the lid, then it was time for our union mandated break.

Once the paint dried, we headed inside due to the heat and started attaching the hinges and latches. Again, predrill some holes, and set the boy loose with a screwdriver. Godzilla got two screwdrivers in his tool set, so he was thrilled to put one to use building his tool box. First we attached the handle to the lid, then the hinges to the back and finished with the latch on the front, making sure to have everything centered and square before attaching. A few turns of the screw, and you have yourself a real working toolbox, ready to hold all the tools you could want.

This box is really sturdy, and fairly heavy, so not something he'll be able to carry around for a few years. That said, we may head back outside and trim a few inches off the bottom this weekend. Of course, you can always add trays and plastic holders for nails, or even compartments to hold individual tools. Have fun with it, let your kid tell you what he wants to see in it, make it your own, and let the building continue!

As an added bonus, once he has a place too keep his tools, dad and grandpa have a great excuse to buy him more, and a perfect opening to teach him how each different one can be used!

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