I am so excited to share this project with you today! It is a project that I have been planning for a while now, and I’m really happy with how it came out. Of course, it all started with a habit of Julius’. Julius just LOVES to be part of the action (who doesn’t?). He wants to help me clean the house, put away dishes, wash the high chair, put on makeup (yes really, so next time my make up looks like a 2 year old did it, maybe don’t judge too harshly). Especially, he wants to help me cook and work in the kitchen. The biggest issue with this desire is that he is far too short to reach the countertops or frankly even see the countertops. This means he is constantly whining to be picked up and held while I am doing any task in the kitchen. Enter the tot tower.
The “tot tower” or “learning tower” is basically a step stool with a railing surrounding the second step so your toddler doesn’t accidentally topple off it. Some of them are simply modified Ikea step stools. Others allow you to adjust the second step depending on the child’s height so it can be used for many years. While I’m not sure the step stool option is less stable since it should be resting against a cabinet anyway, I wanted the option of the adjustable second step. Except for the dowels and the screws, I did not purchase a single piece of wood for this project. I did attempt to put the whole thing on locking casters so it would be easier to move around the kitchen, but the casters were a pain to lock and made the whole thing feel less secure so I scrapped them.
Julius LOVES the tot tower. I demonstrated how to use it and he had no problem getting up and down from the tower. Most often we bring it in the bathroom for him to wash his hands and then I move it to the kitchen for him to help me make food or watch me cook. The funniest use of the tower I’ve seen yet is when Julius was eating some goldfish, a favorite snack of Dany. In the past Julius has had issues with Dany stealing snacks right from his hands while he is walking around. Last week, Julius climbed his tot tower and ate his goldfish from the tower, laughing at Dany. (Poor Dany.)
The tower took me 4 or 5 days after work to complete (including drawing up the plans), but I’m by no means an experienced woodworker. Someone with more skill would probably be able to complete the project in less time.
What you’ll need:
- #8 1 1/2″ wood screws
- 4 – 30″ 1×4’s
- 4 – 15.5″ 1×3’s
- 2 – 10″ 1×3’s
- 4 – 17″ 2×2’s
- 1 – 7″x13.75″x3/4″
- 1 – 7.75″x13.75″x3/4″
- 1 – 10″x15.5″x3/4″
- Cut all pieces to size as mentioned above. If you were smart, you’d probably sand all pieces first and round edges. I was not smart, so I didn’t do this until much later.
- Assemble each side of the tot tower following the diagram above. You’ll want to keep the two 1×4’s parallel while you screw on the 10″ 1×3 to the top, followed by the 17″ 2×2 at the bottom (make sure the 1×4’s only span 10″ on one end of the 17″ 2×2). Finally attach the second 2×2 in a similar manner but below the 7″ line.
- Repeat for second side of tot tower, making sure to make it a mirror image of the first.
- Attach the two sides of the tot tower together using the 4 15.5″ 1×3’s. 3 will be attached to the back (see diagram portion marked back view) and the 4th will be attached to the top front to complete the railing (see diagram portion marked top view of railing).
- (Note I did it in this order, but if I were to do this again, I might do this step before the next step because it was very difficult to screw the unattached tot tower pieces together). Attach the 7″x13.75″x3/4″ step to the 7″ extension of the 2×2’s.
- Attach the 7.75″x13.75″x3/4″ riser to front of the 4 2×2’x.
- Using a 1 1/8″ auger bit, drill 3 holes on each of the 4 30″ 1×4’s at 11″, 14″ and 17″ from the floor.
- Using a band saw, remove 3/16ths of wood from the dowel along it’s length to create a flat surface. Cut the dowel into 2 15.5″ segments.
- Also using a band saw, cut corners out of the 10″x15.5″x3/4″ platform board to specifications marked in diagram labeled “platform”.
- Sand everything, making sure to round corners everywhere.
- If desired, stain and finish with wax/poly or paint.
- Insert dowels into holes at desired height, with flat portion up.
- Place platform board on top of dowels.
- Drill a pilot hole through the top of the platform board into the center of the dowel below. Use screw to secure. Repeat with second dowel.
I filled the empty 1 1/8″ holes with champagne corks! My co-worker gave me a bunch of champagne corks and I finally found something to do with them! They fit perfect and don’t fall out, and I can move them once I move the dowels down.