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How To Upcycle Old Tires Into A Fun Outdoor Toy Box
Warm Weather has Finally Come
Spring is here. Words cannot describe how excited this makes me! We have been battling the gloom for the past couple of months around here.
Sadly, with the sun came all of the maintenance that a yard requires. I am one of those people that can’t take care of a plant to save my life. This means that my wonderful partner in life gets to take on most of the outside responsibility.
Don’t get me wrong, we are so blessed to have such a large property(in town at that!) but it gets pretty taxing. As soon as it begins warming up, the grass shoots out of the ground like bullets in an action movie! Keeping up with our property feels almost impossible.
That, my friend, is why I have decided to make an outdoor toy box out of tires. It’s perfect! A toy box gives my kids a place to put their stuff to keep it out of the weather and makes Chris’s life easier. No more early morning roll calls for cleaning up before mowing! (Am I the only one that has that problem?!) Let me show you how it’s done.
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2 old tires
Leatherman or really sharp knife
Jigsaw (I use and love this one.)
2 cans of spray paint in color of choice
Half sheet of ¼’’-½’’ Plywood
Yarn or string, push pin, and pencil for drawing circle
Drill and drill bit(We are big Makita fans, because the batteries last so long and they are so durable!)
Cute hardware for handle(optional but adorable!)
This is a pretty in-depth tutorial.
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Cut the Tires
You want to cut the tires before you doing anything else, that way your hard work in the next step isn’t wasted. Cut one sidewall from each tire so that they aren’t taking up space inside the finished toy box. I was being impatient and didn’t want to wait for Chris to get home with our jigsaw, so I ended up using a leatherman.
I would highly recommend using the saw if you can! My hands are a little sore and my forearms are tired. Then again, if you want to get an arm workout in, go for it! It took me about 20 minutes of cutting for two tires.
I chose to only use two so that my two-year-old would be able to reach the bottom. What good is a toy box if he can’t reach in it, right?
Clean The Tires Well
Now that you made it through with all ten fingers, it’s time to clean! I know, that’s the least exciting phrase I could possibly mutter, but we want our paint to stick, right?
Well, spoiler alert: my kids had a blast!
After a good thorough cleaning, it came time to rinse all of those glorious suds off. Realizing that I couldn’t find a hose, we just filled the bowl up and rinsed it that way. It took longer, but on a nice spring day, I wasn’t complaining!
Parker was really loving that he was able to be so helpful. This turned out to be a great family activity.
Dry Out The Tires
Speaking of activity, you can either watch the tires dry now(not so fun) or take a break and come back in about an hour. The tires need to be completely dry so that the spray paint adheres properly.
The whole point of this is to make something worth keeping around, right? So let’s make it pretty.
The tires are dry you say? Time to get back to work.
Paint The Tires
Grab your spray paint and paint the entire exterior of the first tire. (If you want to brush up on your spray painting technique first, check out my best tips here.) Skip the top on the second tire because it will be hidden as it rests on the ground, but paint the rest of it.
Take small breaks between coats. It shouldn’t take more than ten minutes(probably more like five) to dry on a nice day. Your finger is going to need the break anyways! See it as a quick recess to play with the kids. Keep going with this until you have reached your desired color.
All in all, I went over the tire about five times. I used two cans of spray paint, but depending on the size of your tires and the color you choose, it may vary.
Let’s Make the Tire Toy Box Functional
We want to plug the bottom of the tire so that no toys come out if you move it, or in case it gets tipped over for some reason. (You never know with kids!)
Take your yarn and measure across the tire with it. The board needs to fill the bottom of the tire from one side of tread to the other. Fold your yarn in half and tie a small knot at the end.
Grab your plywood! Place a pushpin in the middle of where you want your circle, loop the yarn on it, and pull gently away with the pencil. As you draw, make sure to keep your pencil straight up and down so that your circle is the right size, and it doesn’t get distorted!
Repeat the process for your lid, but first, refer to my note below.
Note: If you notice in my pictures, I didn’t make the circles as wide as the tire. After cutting it, I realized that this was a mistake for the bottom piece! The shape of the tire makes the wood stick up a bit, which means that my boys’ little toys (like matchbox cars) may end up sliding down underneath the piece, where they can’t find them! I do love how the top looks, so if I were you, I would tie the yarn again after tracing the bottom piece to make it a bit shorter. If you choose to follow my directions above without shortening your yarn for the top piece, your lid will cover the entire top and look a bit different than mine.
Use A Jigsaw To Cut The Wood Round
Your circles are drawn. Grab your plywood and prop it onto something so that it is off the ground. I used a couple of firewood rounds, but normal people would grab their sawhorses for this. As long as you can cut with the jigsaw and the wood won’t fall off, you are set. You have my permission to get creative 😉
Start cutting the edge that is closest to the bottom circle. Once you hit your line, follow it. Once the bottom piece is done, cut out the lid.
You want to have a nice edge on the lid, so do your best to cut it right on the line and take your time. After it is cut out, sand the edges smooth if necessary and finish however you wish.
I skipped sanding because my edges weren’t jagged, and I figure it’s going to get weathered anyways. Do what is right for you.
We painted ours white with some leftover paint, and added a handle to the center! I love how the wood is still showing through the paint, almost like we whitewashed it. It adds that bit of character I love so much.
Upcycle Old Tires Into A Cool Toy Box
I chose to secure my bottom piece with zip-ties. You could probably skip this step if you wanted, but like I said before, you never know what will happen around here! I would rather have it strapped down.
I used a drill with the bit that was already on it. Honestly, I have no clue what size it is, but the point is to make holes for your zip-tie to go through so as long as you can do that, you should be good.
Prop your piece up, hold it in place, and drill two holes next to each other. Directly across from that(you can eyeball it), do the same thing. Then put the piece into the tire meant for the bottom.
Prop them up, put your knee on the wood, pull the edge of the tire back so that it’s nice and secure against the wood. Drill holes in the same places as you did before on both sides. You now have holes in your tire and wood! Put your zip ties through and tighten. I stood on it to get it as tight as possible!
Put your zip ties through and tighten. I stood on the thing to get them as tight as possible!
Now that we’ve got the look, and all of the pieces ready, it’s time to put our tires together. Before we can stack them, we need to make holes for our zip ties to go through.
Make a little incision next to each pattern change in the tread. If your tires are different from each other, use a tape measure and mark out your holes first. The better these line up, the better your tires will fit together. Once you have gone around both tires, put the zip-ties through the holes in one of them. You can see what I mean in the photos above.
Connect the Tires To Each Other
Flip both tires up on their sides, and start putting them together by looping the zip ties through the second tire and tightening them enough that they won’t come apart. Roll them a bit and repeat until all of the ties are locked.
This is a great time to recruit your little helper to keep the bottom tire up!
You’re almost done! It’s time to tighten up the zip ties! Lay the tires back down and get to work. This part took some muscle. You want to get them as tight as possible so that your tires are really secure! When you are done, snip the ties down so that the extra plastic isn’t flopping around everywhere.
Final Touches For Your Upcycled Tire Toy Box
Make sure that the paint looks good from a distance. Fix any imperfections and take a deep breath. It’s time to move your masterpiece to it’s forever home!
We have a tree that has created a dirt patch in the corner of our yard. My boys L-O-V-E to drive their trucks in it, so it’s turned out to be a non-issue. This is where I decided to put our toy box.
It has been really awesome to watch my boys not only use it as a container but to watch them implementing the tires into their creative play.
Aaro especially loves the tires. He has been using them as a road for his cars to drive on.
Task Complete: Upcycle A Fun Tire Toy Box
Having a place to put our outside toys feels so good. I will definitely be enjoying many more beautiful days in the backyard this year. I can’t wait to watch my kids soak up the sun, slurp some ice cream, and enjoy all the fun that comes along with summertime.
If you are looking for a great toy storage system for inside your home, check out what I did for my boys’ room!
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