kids play center

For Christmas we wanted to get our daughter a Doc McStuffins play center and our son a workbench. My wife wanted to give them something we made rather than buying a plastic toy, so I got to work.

main case

The main case is built from Birch plywood with the exception of the back which is a piece of AC plywood, it is a straight forward cabinet construction, here are the details:

Start by cutting the case sides and shelves to width.

Then cut the sides and shelves to length. The shelves are cut a little long for now.

I'm building two of these, labeling helps me keep things straight so I don't cut the wrong piece later. If you have a particular side you want facing in or out this is the time to mark that as well.

Next, I set the inside faces up edge to edge and layout for two dadoes, each two inches from the top and bottom.

To cut the dadoes I will be using a router and this jig which will help to cut a dado the same width as the piece of plywood being used for the shelf. Using a standard 3/4" bit won't work since most plywood is undersized by a 1/16" or so. For more details on the jig check out these Wood Smith Shop plans.

Set the width of the jig by using a piece of plywood that is the same thickness as the shelf material, or just use one of the shelves.

Then line the jig up on your layout lines and use a router to cut. The depth here doesn't really matter I used 1/8".

A 3/4" rabbet cut in the back, I did this one with a sacrificial fence and dado blade at the table saw. The same jig that I used to cut the dadoes could be used here too.

Next I mark the shelves to cut their width down, they are narrower than the case sides to account for the back. Also this is the time to cut them to final length.

The top front corner gets a rounded edge, I used a paint can to mark it, a jig saw to cut it and a sanding block to finish it off.

Glue and clamp it up. I used the painters tape here to help with glue squeeze out onto the shelves, just makes cleanup later on easier.

Back then gets cut to size and nailed in place.

The finished case. You could install a small toe kick, I elected not to. Next to finish of the plywood I used birch iron on edge banding.

pegboard frame

The peg board holder is put together using tongue a groove joinery. For a good tutorial on tongue a groove joinery check out Tom Hintz article / video over at the New Woodworker. I used some scrap pine I had around and a piece of peg board. One 2'x4' piece was enough for both cabinets. Here's the build details on the pegboard frame:

First, sides and top cut to rough length. To tops are cut to the wanted width plus one inch to account for a half inch tongue on each side.

I wasn't able to finish the frames on the same day, ganging them together helps prevent warping.

All of the grooves cut to fit a quarter inch panel using the techniques outlined in Tom's tutorial.

Half inch tongues cut to a friction fit, again, using the techniques outlines in Tom's tutorial.

Glued and assembled. You can leave it in the clamps for a few ours, or, from the back, pin nail where the tongue intersects the groove, that's what I did not having time to wait.

A couple of screws hold it to the case.


The doors are constructed using the same tongue and groove construction as the pegboard frame. I used some poplar with chalkboard as the panels. Fitting the doors are probably the trickiest part given that they are inset, below are a couple of articles I learned from. The main thing is to buy quality hinges, build the doors slightly over-sized and take your time fitting them.

All of the door pieces cut for both cabinets, along with tongue and grooves. each door is built to be an exact fit height wise so that it can be trimmed latter to be a smooth fit. Each door is built to be an exact fit to 1/16" wider than necessary, again, to leave room for trim fitting later. If you are building more than one don't assume both cabinets are the same, build your doors to match each cabinet.

Doors assembled and drying.

Hinge mortises cut with a router then finished up with a chisel.

finishing touches

A few holes for putting things in on the workbench.

Prime and Paint

Install some hardware