Woodworking with Google SketchUp

In front of my desk in the basement there's an area where our son, now 11 months old, plays.  We've created a safe area where he's free to roam, play with his toys, and hang with us.

He's grown to the point now that the barrier I had in front of my desk is small enough that he can climb on top of it, and then onto my desk - no good.  I wanted to put a toy box in front of my desk, tall enough that he couldn't climb on it, and as long as the desk plus the area where the printer is at the side.  I couldn't find anything, so I decided to build it.

I used Google SketchUp for two parts of this little project:  Space planning, and planning out the toybox I wanted to build.

Here's the Before picture:

This image illustrates the problem:

Cool thing about using SketchUp is it gives you this really easy to use free-form 3D doodling ability that lets you just try things out.  So I "sketched out" the toybox I wanted.

Here's the scene with my proposed toybox:

Now, I'm no woodworking expert.  I've never built anything out of wood before.  Seriously.  Well, I've installed some shelves, little things like that, but never building something from scratch.  But I wasn't going for anything fancy here; just a box to hold toys and provide containment.

When I was building the toybox model, I initially did it with simple rectangles, but in the end, it worked out better to model each of the pieces of wood I'd need.  I created 1" thick pieces for the sides and then put in some 2"x2" pieces inside figuring I could screw the sides into the 2x2 pieces to hold it together. 

What I did is make each of the pieces of wood a component in SketchUp.  One very cool benefit of doing it this way is you can have more than one instance of a component, so I created a separate "cut list" layout of all the wood pieces:

I printed this out and took it into Rona and said "can you cut this form me?" and they said "Sure!".  A half hour later, I was loading the pieces into my van.

Assembling it went pretty much as expected, and I have my new Toybox:

I still need to find a hinge for the top; once I do and get it completely assmebled, I'll post a real picture.

If I do this again, a few things I'd do differently:

  • Don't make all the wood 1" thick.  Yes, it's a nice easy dimension to work with in SketchUp, but 1" MDF is really heavy.
  • Take the typical 8'x4' size of a sheet of wood into account.  I ended up wasting a lot of the wood I bought because I just printed that sheet out and brought it in instead of running it through a program like CutList to see how much wood I'd have to buy and how much I'd be wasting.

I've posted it to Google's SketchUp 3D Warehouse, here, in case anyone else needs a giant toybox or is just curious.