How to Build an Outdoor Storage Box

I partnered up with RYOBI and was provided a few products to write this post but was not compensated otherwise. All opinions are my own and I love me some RYOBI power tools. ;)
This post should really be called, How to Build and Outdoor Storage Box When You Really Don't Know What You're Doing and You Just Kind of Wing It. Anyone still reading? Brave soul. I like you. So yep, that's the truth. When the porch makeover started, the need to hide our crap was at the top of the list. I never really built anything this big before and didn't use any plans but ended up with something I really love and it serves the function I needed (crap hiding). Win! And the best part? I learned a ton. There are a few things I would do differently if I built this again, but that's pretty much the definition of experience, isn't it? Learn by doing. So keep reading and I'll show you what I did and hopefully inspire you to jump in and just try it. You never know... it might work out.

So I started this project the way I do most, by searching Google and Pinterest for benches I liked. After I found a few gorgeously expensive teak ones, I took a few measurements on the porch in the spot I wanted it to go. Then I made a quick sketch and headed to Home Depot. The plan was a rectangular bench, 48 inches wide, 20 inches deep, and about 24 inches tall with small legs and a hinged top.

Here's a clearer one I drew up so you can see what's going on.

Hubs looks thrilled, doesn't he? ;)

I found the majority of my supplies in the decking section. While I would have loved teak like my inspiration benches, it's mucho dinero. Not gonna happen this time around.

I ended up buying 2" x 2", 8 feet long, "weathershield" sticks (I'd call them "boards" but really they were more like really long sticks) for the frame of my bench. They weren't expensive and made for outdoor use. However, they bowed like crazy and finding a number of straight pieces was a challenge. Be prepared to dig.

We also had to buy a sheet of plywood (plus a little extra) which isn't the easiest thing to maneuver. I highly suggest getting the Home Depot guys to cut it down for you for easier transport. Seriously, it took the guy like 20 seconds. I just made sure they cut it in a way that I could still get all the usable pieces I needed to out of it. Way easier to fit in a truck when it's not 8 feet long. And the kids are starting to loose their marbles at this point. Thank goodness for the hot dog guy. You can see the large pieces of plywood on our cart. That's just one large sheet cut in half. (and another smaller piece in front)

So now that I've shopped a bit, let's get started.

My supply list:
Use my measurements as approximates when buying supplies. Once you get going you might find you need to adjust the sizes to fix exactly... measure, measure, measure! My 2" x 2" sticks turned out to be not quite 2" so things got a little off. And of course... you can always use your own measurements and make the box whatever size you want. Make a little sketch and plan it out.)
  • 2" x 2" Weathershield "sticks"
    • 4 - 24" pieces (legs)
    • 2 - 20 1/2" pieces (for the lid with mitered corners)
    • 2 - 48" pieces (for the lid with mitered corners)
    • 1 - 18" piece (lid brace)
    • 4 - 17 1/2" pieces (short sides)
    • 4 - 45" pieces (long sides)
  • 1/4" plywood
    • 2 - 20" x 48" (lid and bottom)
    • 2 - 21" x 45" (long sides)
    • 2 - 21" x 17 1/2" (short sides)
  • Beadboard (measure the inside panels once the box is constructed to get exact measurements)
    • 2 - 18 1/2" x 45" (front and back)
    • 2 - 18 1/2" x 17 1/2" (sides)
  • Quarter Round Moulding
    • 4 - 45" pieces
    • 8 -18 1/2" pieces
    • 4 - 17" pieces
  • Fence Boards or Pallets or Scrap Wood, etc.
    • enough to cover the lid in whatever pattern you like (if this is not going to be under some sort of cover, use a wood suitable for outdoors)
  • 2 hinges
  • screws and nails
  • wood glue
  • Some kind of water sealant
Power Tools:
Before I get to the steps, I want to address the big and scary elephant in my driveway... power tools. Dun dun dah!!!!! I get comments often about people scared or unsure of using power tools. Here's my 2 cents on that. Do you drive a car? Do you cook on a stove? Both of those everyday things have the potential to injure you as much as or more than a power tool. But you're comfortable operating a car or a stove or whatever, because you've taken the time to learn how to operate those things (and let's be honest, you can rock a stove like nobody's business). Same goes for power tools.

Take your time to learn how they work. Read the manual, watch some tutorials, ask the guys at Home Depot for help. Also, take simple safety precautions and use some common sense. I always put my hair up, never wear hanging jewelry or loose clothing, and wear eye protection and closed-toe shoes to name a few. When you're ready, take your time, measure twice :), and practice a little. You'll be headed for carpentry mastery in no time, I know it. You can do it. Now on with the show.

Step 1:

Build your frame.
First I cut all of the frame pieces (the 2" x 2" sticks as I lovingly call them) for the box, not the lid. Just measure and cut straight 90º cuts. No angles on this part. I'm using a RYOBI  Miter Saw to do this.

Then I assembled my box on the floor upside down. This way the top (which is touching the ground) stays nice and level while the legs stick up in the air. The kids ran by and knocked those legs down about 14 times while I was arranging this. Good times. The hardest part will be keeping everything square.

You might also notice the holes drilled at each end of the sticks. This was a bit of a construction fail. I tried to use my Kreg Jig which allows you to drill perfect diagonal holes to join the corners.
However, I didn't really read the directions very well and didn't have a piece of wood wide enough to drill the 2 holes you are supposed to drill and well, long story short, ignore this part. I had a Kreg Jig fail (totally user error). This is something I will be fixing should I build this again. Officially on To Do List: Learn how to use the Kreg Jig correctly! So instead, glue the corners and add screws from the outsides.

Make sure to pre drill the screw holes so your wood doesn't split. I used the RYOBI One+ drill for this and it went really fast (Pssst... I'm giving one away Monday!). And, bonus, the battery for this drill is also interchangeable with my nailer and sander which we'll be getting to in a minute. The top of the frame is flush with the top of the legs, and the bottom of the frame sits 3" from the bottom of the leg... creating the little leg on the bottom. The picture in Step 2 should clear that up a bit.

Step 2:
Glue and nail the bottom and sides to the frame.
Here's another place where I would change something. I only used 1/4" plywood for the bottom. I chose that at the store because I didn't want this thing to weigh 5 million pounds. It's great for the sides which are getting an extra layer of beadboard anyway, but the bottom is a bit flimsy. I'm going to need to brace that if I put anything heavy in here. So learn from me and get some thicker wood for the bottom.

For the bottom, I ran a bead of glue all the way around.

I also had to notch out the corners around the legs like this so the bottom would sit flat.

Then I nailed it in place with the RYOBI AirStrike Cordless Brad Nailer. Out of all my tools, this is probably my favorite. No cords or noisy air compressors to mess with and I can swap the battery from my drill into the nailer and back again.

After the bottom was secure, I flipped the whole thing over and attached the sides in the same way.

I even made a tiny movie to show you how quickly you can get something nailed together using the AirStrike.

Easy, right?

The sides just butt up against each other in the corners. Don't sweat it if you have small gaps. The beadboard and moulding will cover that.
At this point the neighbors might think you're building a coffin. It's cool. Just smile and wave.

Step 3:
Attach the beadboard. 
I measured each panel (the space in between the frame), cut a piece of beadboard to fit, and glued it in place.

Then I weighted it down until it dried.

Step 4:
Build the lid. 
I waited until the box was constructed to make the lid so I could make it exactly the right size. Measure the length and width of the box. Cut the frame pieces for the top to those dimensions (the "sticks"). Only this time I made mitered corners. Instead of cutting your pieces at 90 degrees, turn the saw to 45 degrees.
The measurement that you are cutting to should be the longest part of the angle. That probably made no sense. I'll draw you a picture...
Get it?  After the four pieces for the lid's frame are cut, I wood glued and nailed them together. Remember to keep everything as square as possible. Then I cut a thin piece of plywood and attached that to the underside of the top with nails and glue. After this step the top should look like a large tray. 

Then I realized the top was a bit flimsy (learn as you go, right?) and my kids would for sure be sitting or jumping on it. That's when I added the cross piece in the middle (the thing the pink arrows are pointing at).  It's screwed in from the ends and wood glued and nailed from the underside.

Step 5:
Add quarter round moulding. 
I added quarter round to all 4 sides of the box, on each panel. To do this I measured each panel and cut the moulding at 45º angles to that size. It's important to keep the flat sides of the moulding up against the saw every time you make a cut. This way the angle of the cuts will be correct each time. I learned this the hard way. 

Applied moulding will cover up any gaps on the edges and more importantly for me... keep the box frog and lizard proof. :) No one likes pooped-on towels. I glued it in place.

Then added a couple nails with the AirStrike.

Step 6: 
Get fancy with the top.  
Once everything was constructed, I decided to do something a bit decorative to the top. I drew a line lengthwise in the center of the top. Then cut 1"x 4" boards at 45 degree angles to line up with that.

I just kept working my way across and trimmed pieces as I got closer to each side. I did that by holding a board in place and marking the cut with a pencil. I was sure to cut a little larger than I needed and slowly trim away excess until it fit in its spot. Kind of like a big chevron-esqe puzzle.

Once they were all fitted in place, I picked each one up and glued it down with wood glue.

Once they were all dry, I screwed/glued a brace to the underside of the lid for a little extra kid-jumping support and attached the whole thing with two hinges.

Step 7: 
Last step! 
Sand the whole thing to knock off rough or sharp edges, fill screw holes with wood filler if you don't want to see them, and seal it with some sort of water/deck sealer. My porch is covered on 3 sides and doesn't get wet really at all... but you never know.

It's done! Longest post ever. Seriously, you deserve a snack and a pee break if you made it this far. I'll wait. Dummm dee deeee dummmm.
Okay, feel better? Now check out the finished product. I need a nap.
I sewed up those pillows, made from fabric I got from onlinefabricstore.net.

So are you inspired to try something maybe a little out of your comfort zone? If so, come back Monday when I'll be giving away one RYOBI 18V ONE+ Lithium+ Compact Drill/Driver Kit to get you started on your next project. It's awesomesauce and I'll have my fingers crossed for you!
Large e5340019 f9ad 409f 9e45 92e255ecde79


  1. Sarah you did an AMAZING job!!! I love it and love the pillows on top. Once I have tons of kid crap laying around outside I'll be making one of these boxes, for sure!

  2. This is exactly what our back patio needs! May be something I attempt next spring though. Thanks Sarah for this awesome tutorial!