Monday, November 2, 2015

A Less Bulky Toddler Tower

Today's post is about something life-changing. I am not exaggerating at all.

Peter, Peter, the little eater is very excited about food. As in he sees me go to the kitchen and he follows me grunting for me to feed him, stuffs his mouth so full he can't chew, hangs on my legs the entire time I cook dinner kind of excited. I swear we feed him, but you would never know it from how he begs when someone brings out food. In any case, cooking dinner was kind of stressful because he was tugging on my clothes the entire time and whining about getting samples or generally wanting to oversee the cooking.

I had been thinking of building a stool like this one for quite some time now, but--like so many projects--never got around to it. After a brief stay with my sister who had built one for her daughter, I finally decided to just do it. The Saturday after I got home, we went to Ikea and bought a stool and then to the hardware store where I got two 1 x 2s and a half inch dowel. The following Monday I put one tower stool together by myself in about two and a half hours with David "helping" (Peter was a little sick and took a long nap that day). I waited to paint it until this week (a couple months later), but we began using it as soon as Peter woke up and haven't really stopped since.

I modified the original idea (like my sister before me) for a couple of reasons.  First, I liked the idea of reducing the wood size to reduce top-heaviness. I have not built one with the thicker wood so I don't know if that is actually a problem at all, but I knew the more wood I added up top, the more likely it was to tip. I have tested the one I have built and I can make it tip if I stand all the way on the very front and lean forward (which is also true in the original Ikea stool design), but I am not concerned at all about my son tipping it over, especially since the front is usually against the counter. Second, I felt like the thick 1 x 4 rail around the top and the use of something as large as a 2 x 2 for the rest was overkill visually and functionally. The stool itself is made of wood much closer in size to a 1 x 2 and is rated for 220lbs. Granted, I used pine instead of beech, but that isn't going to make a 200lb difference. I really feel like my version can handle a toddler without a problem, and I think it looks more in scale with the bottom.

I used a Kreg jig to build my stool, but my sister did not. Her crossbars are not even with one another, allowing her to assemble it with regular screws. You could also assemble this with glued dowels for joints, which would be stronger than screws and wouldn't require a jig. 

two 1 x 2 x 8 boards
one 1/2" dowel (mine was 4 feet, but you only need about 13 1/2", so a smaller one would work)
measure tape
miter saw*
wood glue
electric screwdriver/drill
1/2" drill bit (I used a spade bit)
Kreg jig**  
1 1/4 inch kreg screws
1 1/2 inch wood screws

*I used a hand saw with a miter box and it wasn't too much trouble, but power tools are obviously faster and more accurate
**optional, but you won't be able to assemble everything the same way I did without one. If anyone is interested in a non-kreg variation of assembly, let me know.

Cut list 
4  1 x 2 x 17" (posts)
4  1 x 2 x 6 3/8" (short crossbars)
2  1 x 2 x 12 1/2" (long crossbars)
1  1/2" dowel cut to 13 1/2"(but I recommend cutting to fit)


Step 1 Make the sides by screwing the short crossbars between the posts as shown. The second crossbar is 7" down from the top of the post. The black ovals show where I made pocket holes. The pocket holes on the post do not fit entirely on the post, but they function just the same. Do not put a screw in the yellow pocket hole yet. Note that one of the sides will be a mirror image of the one shown.

Step 2 On the post that does not have pocket holes, drill a 1/2" deep hole 1/2" from the top of the post with the 1/2" bit. Be careful not to drill through if you are using a spade bit like I did. Repeat on the other side. Insert the dowel into both sides and make sure that the width measures 14" as shown. Trim as necessary and then put glue into each hole, insert dowel, and screw screws into the two remaining pocket holes. The screw will go into the dowel and hold it in place.

Step 3 Screw the long crossbars into place between the sides with 1 1/2" wood screws, covering the pocket holes on the post. Remember to drill first to prevent cracking.

Step 4 Attach your assembly to the top of the purchased stool by drilling and then screwing through the bottom of top into the assembly. I used two screws on each post, but one was probably enough.

This tower is very Peter approved, especially with the new paint. He actually picked out the color. We presented him options 2 by 2 like the eye doctor, and he never wavered from this choice except for a brief consideration of red. He then hung on to the can the whole way home.

1 comment:

  1. I really like this post, especially the way you wrote it up. That Peter is pretty special.


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