Saturday Morning Workshop: How to Build Stacking Totes

Have a couple of hours free this weekend? Build these stacking totes using 1/2-in. plywood for an inexpensive and very useful solution for stowing toys, shoes, blankets and other clutter out of sight.

Next Project

An hour or less






Perfect for a kid's room or entryway, these stacking totes will hide a lot of clutter but still keep items easily accessible. Follow the video tutorial, how-to instructions and tech art below to build one (or 10!) of these simple storage containers. Make these mobile stacking totes from 1/2-in. birch veneer plywood. The dimensions we give here allow each tote to interlock snugly with the one above it and the one below it. Plus, you can cut all five parts from one full sheet of plywood! Cut all the plywood parts to size, cut out the handles and sand all the edges smooth. Then glue and assemble the totes with 18-gauge brad nails. Fill the nail holes with wood filler or surfacing compound. Leave them unfinished or apply stain or paint. If you paint the totes, use an oil-base primer and topcoat for durability. Mount 2-in. casters on the bottom tote to make the stack mobile.

Tools Required

  • 1-1/4-in. Forstner bit
  • 18-gauge brad nailer
  • Circular saw
  • Drill
  • Jigsaw

Materials Required

  • 1-1/4-in. 18-gauge brad nails
  • 1/2-in. plywood
  • 1/2” Construction screws
  • 2" casters
  • Wood glue

Project step-by-step (4)

Step 1

Cut the Plywood to Size

Stacking Totes Cut Plywood

Check the Cutting List or the tech art below to get the sizes for the 1/2-in. plywood. Use your circular saw to cut the board to size.

Step 2

Cut the Handle Holes and Round Edges

Stacking Totes Cut Handle Holes

Map out the 1-1/4 x 5-in. handle holes and 1-1/4-in.-radius corners on the handle sides (Part A). Drill a pilot hole or use a 1-1/4-in. Forstner bit, so you can start the jigsaw blade in the handle holes. Cut along the lines with a jigsaw.

Step 3

Assemble the Totes

Stacking Totes Assemble Tote

Assemble the totes using wood glue and 1-1/4-in. 18-gauge brad nails. Fasten the normal sides (Part B) to the base (Part C). The handle sides (Part A) have a 1-1/2-in. reveal at the top and bottom. Use glue and pin nails to attach them to the rest of the assembly.

Step 4

Attach the Casters

Stacking Totes Attach Casters

Fasten the 2-in. casters to the tote base (Part C) with 1/2-in. construction or washer-head screws. Finish with a couple of coats of paint or stain to match your interior decor.

Stacking Totes Lead