While my "handiness" is still pretty laughable, I've made some strides of late.
My recent coup involved an old shipping crate that I took from work when a storage closet was being cleaned out. It was fairly crappy. Mostly plywood & cheap pine. But it was the perfect size for a toybox & was covered with (I think) Japanese shipping labels. My first task was to peel off the shipping labels. I managed to get 3 of them off pretty much intact.
Step 1 was to sand down the whole box which involved a trip to Lowe's with all three kids to buy sandpaper. Luckily they can be bribed with the promise of glowsticks and behaved very well. Of course they all insisted on sitting in the shopping cart so there wasn't much room left for the stuff I actually needed to buy. I also let them pick the color stain to use. After much deliberation, they all agreed on a pretty dark mahogany color.
After lots of sanding, I spent the next couple of hours staining in bursts between kid-related demands.
He hit me!
I let it dry overnight, sprayed some sealant on it, and let it dry overnight again. Then it was time to glue the stickers back on and glue some foam onto the lid to prevent small fingers from being pinched. I tested it on myself by opening the lid all the way and letting it fall on my fingertips. Nice bouncy foam kept my fingers safe!
The end result came out pretty nice. Jane even suggested putting it in the living room. We discussed putting a cushion on the top and turning it into an ottoman but I don't think it'll support that kind of weight.
Anyway, see for yourself:
: http://www.flickr.com/photos/markbiek/3171327190/ : http://www.flickr.com/photos/markbiek/3171322088/