When we made our Wooden Crate Hot Wheels Parking Garage last month, the family member that loved it the most was Janie! She is 14 months old, and the crate is the perfect size for her. She loves taking the cars out and putting them back in, but she’s not coordinated enough to do it without damaging the mailing tubes (she just bangs the car until she gets it in). She is still putting things in her mouth so Hot Wheels are not a very safe toy for her anyway. I decided to move the Hot Wheels crate out of her reach for now and to make another crate for her with larger openings for stuffed animals or other toys.
It’s pretty adorable as a stuffed animal tower! We will definitely use this in Janie’s room for years to come, even when she is past the toddler “load up the compartments” stage. And actually, Jonathan and Owen have been doing a lot of pretend play with this crate too. It’s fun to pretend the sections are caves for the animals.
Janie enjoys putting her Fisher Price Little People in the compartments, and I think ping pong balls would also be interesting for toddlers to play with. Older kids can display a collection… SO many possibilities!
Ready to make one?
You will need:
- A wooden crate – I bought ours at Michael’s.
- Sand paper
- Wood stain (or paint)
- Polyurethane spray
- Cardboard mailing tubes – I used tubes that I found at Michael’s in the gift wrap/mailing supplies aisle. They are 3.9 inches by 6.2 inches.
- Hot glue or another glue of choice
- For a sign (optional) – craft wood, paint, sticker letters, nail or wood screws
Step 1: Sand your crate well to get rid of splinters and rough edges. Also, be sure to look over the crate carefully when purchasing. I had to reject a lot of crates that had broken pieces or splintery spots.
Step 2: Stain your crate. (Or paint it.)
I left the Hot Wheels crate unfinished, and that looks really great for cars. But this time I felt like doing something different! We found wood stain at Home Depot in several colors. I didn’t know that it came in any color other than brown! The boys helped me pick this fun turquoise. They also had a cream color and a nice navy blue, and possibly other colors that I am forgetting. It was in the paint aisle.
Wood stain is oil-based, so I bought a cheap foam brush and threw it away at the end of the project. The stain will not wash off with water.
If you haven’t worked with stain before, you need to know that in order for the wood grain to show through (which is what makes stain pretty in my opinion) you’ll need to paint it on and then rub the excess off with a clean cloth. I used an old t-shirt.
The can said it would dry in one hour, but with our crazy high humidity from all the rain we’ve had, it took more like 6 hours.
Step 3: Complete the finish with a layer of polyurethane. I used a Minwax polyurethane spray.
Step 4: Glue your tubes. I used 11 mailing tubes from Michael’s. After going to two different stores, I was only able to find 10 in the brown color, so I had to use one white one.
If you’re an OCD individual, you’ll want to look away for this next photo. 🙂
The mailing tubes came with a plastic cap on each end. I left the caps on the back of the tubes so that toys can’t fall through the back. There is only an inch or two of space behind the tubes.
Then just add some toys and a cute child!
P.S. This post is my first “little sister” project, but of course either boys or girls would enjoy this!
Also, be sure to check out our Hot Wheels Crate!
RaisingCreativeChildren Jul 2, 2015
Thanks so much for sharing this - we love this idea and are planning on making one for our nursery!
Emma Jul 10, 2015
This is such an adorable idea - and I love that it will get the stuffed animals contained into one spot!
Sharon B Jul 10, 2015
Instead of buying mailing tubes, I would use large soft drink cups. We always have some of those laying around! Cute idea! Thanks!
Carol Ailles Jul 10, 2015
I would try PVC Pipe in whatever size - just cut it into the right depth... Would have to smooth the edges - but they would be more permanent than mailing tubes
Sarah Jul 14, 2015
Yes, PVC would definitely hold up better and would be very cost effective too. I was worried about the weight of the overall crate if I used PVC pipe. I wasn't sure if my younger kids would be able to move it around themselves, and I knew they would want to!
Cindy Aug 24, 2015
Love this project and want to make something similar for my daughter - along the lines of a vet clinic/hospital. I had to laugh at your warning for those of us with OCD tendencies! ! Thanks!
Sarah Aug 25, 2015
LOL, it drives ME crazy! But after two trips to two different Michael's stores I just couldn't justify driving to a third... :-)
Elizabeth Nov 6, 2015
Thank you for posting this! This idea is very cute and I can just imagine it being a fun home for my daughters' Beanie Boos. I think it doubles great as a toddler toy and I'm sure my lil one would do exactly what your daughter did. :)
ERika Medina Oct 22, 2016
It is such a great idea. It was a great surprise to see the stuff animals that you have used for this craft. Where can you find these type of toys. I've been searching for some but I have not found them. Would you please tell me where can I get some of those?
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