Introduction: How to Build a Toddler Kitchen Helper Stool for $30
If you have a toddler at home, you'll quickly learn that they're your greatest fan/helper in the kitchen. Keep your kids safe and free yourself to get things done in the kitchen.
In this tutorial, you'll see step by step how to create a kitchen "Helper" stool for your toddler.
You can find many tutorials online about how to make one of these using a stool kit from Ikea. All in all that is a fine way to go, but you will save even more if you build it from scratch. Honestly if you already have access to tools, and plan to build one, a scratch build will only cost you a few extra minutes to do the cuts. Assembly will not net you much of a gain at all. Also, the ergonomic dimensions when using the Ikea stool do not end up as great height for comfort of your child.
Update: My Toddler is over 2.5 Y/O now and still uses this thing all the time to help out in the kitchen.
The only 2 things I'd do different:
- Don't include the cross supports half way up on the vertical supports because eventually this can turn into a ladder for a curious toddler. Eventually your toddler will get big enough that they can climb even on to the top rails, but no reason to give them a half step to that.
- Also think about stain and paint relative to your kitchen colors. No major issues here, but a few teal scuffs on the cabinets and walls.
You will need:
- 11 - 2in x 2in cedar boards (36in length).
- 1 - 24in x 24in MDF board (1/2in thick)
- 64 - 3.5in grabber screws
- 12 - 1.75in grabber screws
- Favorite color of pray paint
Step 1: Measurements and Marking
First thing we'll do is measure out all of your pieces, mark them for cuts, and for pre-drilling (see the template file below for pre-drilling).
REMEMBER: Measure twice cut once!
Below you can see a download for the Fusion360 file for my design. In this version we'll need to cut the 2x2's into the following lengths:
- 2 @ 33" (83.8 cm)
- 2 @ 27" (68.6 cm)
- 2 @ 16" (40.6 cm)
- 8 @ 14" (35.5 cm)
- 6 @ 10" (25.4 cm)
- 2 @ 6" (15.2 cm)
Then, cut the MDF sheet into:
- 16.75 x 12.83in (425mm x 326mm)
- 16.75 x 6in (425mm x 155mm)
Take note that there are 2 different layouts for the pre-drilling. This is so that the screw paths do not intersect one another. See template file for locations and distances based on where the steps will be. See step 4 for layout.
Step 2: Cut Everything Out
ALWAYS: Safety First!
Be sure to be cautious when using power tools, always wear protective eyewear, hearing protection, gloves, and avoid wearing loose fitting clothing.
Make all of your cuts! You will get cleaner cuts by using a sharp blade and one that is meant for 'Fine' cuts. Slower cuts will also help give you a cleaner finish.
Set your 14in pieces, and step pieces aside, then with all the remaining sort them into 2 groups.
Step 3: Pre-Drill Everything
This may seem like a pointless step, and yes, it is possible to just screw everything together using long screws. However, your finished product will come out much nicer if you take a few extra minutes to pre-drill everything. Also this will help prevent splitting out any ends and having to replace some of your pieces with a new piece (time and money).
Pro Tip: If you have access to a drill press, you will get near perfect angles on everything.
Take note that all of the the pre-drills from template A go one direction, and the template B goes perpendicular (see file on step 1 for recommended layout). With the way each template is laid out, the screw paths should avoid each other giving you a nice strong joint.
Step 4: Assemble Main Structure Halves
Next we'll want to build out the main structure for each half. Take a note of the images and how all of the pre-drilling has been done.
For each side you will need:
- 1 - 33" (83.8 cm) pieces
- 1 - 27" (68.6 cm) pieces
- 1 - 16" (40.6 cm) pieces
- 3 - 10" (25.4 cm) pieces
- 1 - 6" (15.2 cm)
- 18 - 3.5 inch grabber screws
Step 5: Assemble Cross-Supports
Now it's time to assemble both of your halves together. Use the remaining 3.5in screws to assemble all 8 cross-supports.
Step 6: Route the Step Edges (optional)
To give the stool a smoother look and be safer for you child, you can round all of the edges of the steps using a 1/2 radius routing bit and router.
IF you do not have a router, you can always round the edges using a sander or sand paper.
Step 7: Assemble the Steps
First we will assemble the top step using 8 of the 1.75 inch screws. Then, you will install the bottom step using the remaining screws.
Step 8: Paint Your Favorite Color
For this project I decided to go with a bright teal color to pop in the kitchen. Think about the potential for the helper getting dirty in the kitchen, so doing a color that isn't too light will help keep things clean.
You can either spray or roll on your favorite latex enamel paint.
Step 9: Optional Modifications
I recommend installing 4 plastic or felt furniture sliders on the bottoms of the feet. This will help protect your floors, and give you a nicer sound when your toddler slides the stool everywhere you are.
Some designs allow the top rung on the step side to be removable. I choose not to do this to ensure greater safety. Plus your toddler is learning how to be agile and develop balance, so it's no problem for them to climb in and out of the stool.