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Help with learning tower design

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Forum topic by Camper posted 05-12-2011 04:43 AM 3829 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Camper

232 posts in 2317 days


05-12-2011 04:43 AM

Topic tags/keywords: design learning tower question

Hello All,

Wife commissioned me to build a learning tower for our almost 2 year old son and build it fast…like it was due yesterday fast.

In case you do not know (I did not) a learning tower is something he can stand on safely to observe/help with things going on a table or counter. Since I am extremely “time limited”, I came up with a simple design which I think I can build using 3/4 plywood (maybe mdf?) and pocket hole joinery in a 1/2 day. I am not looking to make it fancy, just functional and safe.

Here is a picture. The dimensions are 36” Tall, 24” wide and 21” deep. Legs are 3.5” wide.

The design question I have is what is the easiest but also safe way to integrate a height adjustable platform he can stand on. My initial thought is to drill 4 holes (as shown in the drawing) and insert 1/2” dowels with a knob at the end (so the dowel will not slip through or out) into 1.5” thick platform on all 4 sides. Probably about 3” deep. I can put holes every couple of inches on the legs and that would be the height adjustment.

I am open to other suggestions which maybe easier and safer. I am not sure that 1/2 dowels are thick enough, maybe 3/4”? or maybe a completely different approach.

All your input is welcome and I know ultimately it is my responsibility to ensure that this is safe for him and there is no liability on anyone’s part for their suggestions :)

Also how do you post your images from sketch up? I am sure there is a better way than screen capture and crop which is what I am doing.

Thanks in advance.

-- Tampa-FL


14 replies so far

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MrsN

975 posts in 2987 days


#1 posted 05-12-2011 07:18 AM

someone built one of these. I’ll see if I can find it.

-- ----- www.KNWoodworking.com ----- --

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MrsN

975 posts in 2987 days


#2 posted 05-12-2011 07:26 AM

I found it.
www.lumberjocks.com/projects/40973

good luck!

-- ----- www.KNWoodworking.com ----- --

View rance's profile

rance

4245 posts in 2621 days


#3 posted 05-12-2011 07:44 AM

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Domer

252 posts in 2827 days


#4 posted 05-12-2011 09:49 PM

I built one by looking at them on line. The ends are made of 1/2 Baltic birch plywood. With a cutout for the child to climb through to the platform. I drew a pattern to allow the platform to move to various heights. Sort of like a ratchet. Looking at them online will give you the idea. I made a pattern out of Masonite so that both ends would be the same and also to have a pattern for future ones. I don’t have a way to down load it but again, look at the commercially made ones.

I used 3/4 inch dowels with 1/2 plywood for the platform.. I connected the dowels to the plywood with a bracket I found in the electrical department at HD.

I used threaded inserts to connect the ends to the stretchers so that it would be a knock down. The stretchers can be made of anything. I used 1×6 popular. You need to place the stretchers so that the child can rest on them and not fall out regardless of the height.

Hope this helps.

Domer

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Camper

232 posts in 2317 days


#5 posted 05-13-2011 10:04 PM

thanks for the feedback and link.

Domer, those are some good pointers, considering I do not gave a jig saw, could I do the cutouts with a bandsaw on the plywood sides and the glue the kerf width on the edges?

-- Tampa-FL

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Domer

252 posts in 2827 days


#6 posted 05-13-2011 11:14 PM

I would make the pattern with the band saw and use packing tape of some such to hold the kerf.

Then use your router with a pattern making bit to cut out the ends. That way, you would not have a kerf in the finished piece and you would be assured of having matching ends.

Hope that helps

Domer

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Camper

232 posts in 2317 days


#7 posted 05-13-2011 11:39 PM

I see what you are saying. The thought crossed my mind but I was skeptical about routing out 1/2 plywood without at least roughly cutting out the middle section as close to the dimensions as possible to minimize the amount of material to be routed out. It seems like you do not see a problem with that?

-- Tampa-FL

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Camper

232 posts in 2317 days


#8 posted 05-20-2011 03:41 AM

well, it is no fine furniture but it did not take long, used recycled 2X4s, practiced using dowels and it cost nothing, and my son’s joy after climbing in it is priceless…the picture says it all :). Thanks for all the input.

-- Tampa-FL

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5314 posts in 3173 days


#9 posted 06-10-2011 04:10 AM

Interesting, does the little fellow climb in himself or does he get lifted in? I have to admit when I first read your post I thought ‘This is what we used to call a stool’ but now I see the difference. Nicely done, the little one sure looks happy with it!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

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Camper

232 posts in 2317 days


#10 posted 06-10-2011 06:12 AM

Hi Mark, thanks for the kind words. It is a stool of sorts, just with “guards” around it with an adjustable height….probably started as a marketing gimmick…w

Initially I planned on putting vertical bars between the rails (as you can see in the sketch up drawing) so he could not get in himself. Then my wife said, lets see how it goes without them. Well now, he pushes it where ever he wants and gets in and out himself and pushes it back into the dining room when we say “all done”. I think it worked out better overall. It is sort of more risky but he has never wanted to get on it unless we were in the kitchen cooking so I think we are OK…for now at least :) you never know with this guy…

-- Tampa-FL

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Mark Shymanski

5314 posts in 3173 days


#11 posted 06-10-2011 06:17 AM

My little ones when they were younger always wanted to be in the kitchen with Mom whenever she was cooking. My daughter Lauren knew how to make pizza by 4 or 5…she even coached me through it on the few occasions Jen was at work in the evening and Dad had to cook! There is nothing like having the kids beside you, knowing they are little sponges soaking up everything.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

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Camper

232 posts in 2317 days


#12 posted 06-10-2011 02:51 PM

yaa..I do not get this kitchen fascination…I love having him in the garage and he does like to come in there with me but the power tools scare him a little especially the dust collector when the filter bag blows up :). I am leery about running anything when he is around anyway both in terms of monitoring him and also his hearing…so if he does open the garage door, I go from making sawdust to putting things away and cleaning up which the garage can always use some…

-- Tampa-FL

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Mark Shymanski

5314 posts in 3173 days


#13 posted 06-10-2011 08:50 PM

When they got big enough I bought them their own hearing protectiona dn goggles. They even have their own ‘project lockers’ for things they are currently working on or to store choice bits of wood…I wonder where they got that from LOL!

You can never have a too clean shop :-)

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

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Camper

232 posts in 2317 days


#14 posted 06-11-2011 01:10 AM

I am hoping he maintains the interest, much better than trolling the malls. He is pretty excited about checking out woodworking magazines…upside down that is

-- Tampa-FL

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