Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ana White's Little Helper Tower

After BH's Auntie sent me this picture:

BH is about a year old here
In true Dorris blogging fashion I took a good 12 months to build and blog about this project
I knew BH was finally at an age that would benefit from a Little Helper Tower.  I LOVE the fact that BH is old enough to "help" at the counter (he's 2 now).  I want him up there, but don't want the worry of him falling off a chair, or the hassle of trying to coral him on one.

I was sold on building the tower when I looked up how much it would cost to just buy a Helper Tower: Guidecraft $127.21Little Partners $199.99Guide Craft #2 $139.99, or Little Helper Fun Pod $190 

$127-$200 was not in the budget. I budgeted out the wood and hinges for this project.  I didn't count the screws, glue, or paint in the $60.50 cost breakdown.  Also, when I was looking at prices online I couldn't find a 1x2 @ 8ft pine common board.  The 1x2's select pine board make the cost a little higher.  If you were to the skip hinges, this project would set you back $42.34




This was not my plan or design.  For detailed instructions please go to Ana's Helping Tower plans.  Below are pictures of the tower as I built it.




I put these together without JG and first attempted to do it without clamps... I'm not sure what I was thinking because it was impossible.  Don't be dumb, use clamps.    If you don't have a jig-saw don't worry about making the top pieces arched (I don't see any reason one couldn't just make it straight across). Although I've found if BH is in a particular climb-y mood (as in trying to climb onto the counter) I can turn the helper tower so the arch is against the counter preventing him from climbing up.  So, the arch does serve a purpose in our family.

Ana's plan called for using 8 hinges (I'm not sure on the placement of those).  I used a total of 16 to ensure sturdiness.  I put two hinges on each corner of the 1x8 piece and a hinge anywhere the corners connected.  I used Narrow Utility Hinges (1-1/2" Zinc plated).  The pack of 2 cost $2.27 and comes with screws.  My biggest regret is not painting the hinges before I put them on. I waited until after screwing them in and it was a pain and makes my paint job look sloppy.

Below is a picture with hinge placement:

Note: Hinges are NOT inset.

Despite having the ability to collapse the stool, we never do.  It stays out at the counter all day every day.  If I had this project to do over again I'd still add hinges.  Since we move a lot we never really know what kind of space we'll be living in.  It's nice to know that if space is an issue (in the future) we can collapse it.

Although I priced this build out, I ended up using wood I already had in the garage.   I didn't have enough 1x3 to make the anti-tipping feet so I used a 2x4.  I also didn't make the rounded edges, just a few angled straight cuts.

THESE ANTI-TIP FEET ARE A SAFETY MUST, DO NOT SKIP THEM!!  BH would have easily knocked his tower many times over if it weren't for these anti-tip feet!




I'm not happy with how the paint turned out, but it works for BH and that's all that matters.


Not only does this helper stand collapse it can also grow with your child.  The different rungs allow for the standing platform to move up and down based on how tall your child is.  
  
Couldn't be happier with this build.  Totally worth  every penny.  Also, please note: my kitchen isn't ever this clean or empty of clutter and general life mess.  This was just after the Cabinets by Trivona photoshoot.  So that's why it appears clean :-)  It's likely people who've actually been to my house won't even recognize the kitchen  ;-)  

No, I don't make him wear a helmet when he's on the stand.  He's just really into wearing his helmet these days.




In the above pictures BH is making Yumm Sauce (a favorite in our house).  Having him at the counter is seriously the best.  He just turned two (he's younger in these pictures) and is actually starting to help.  Mostly by adding ingredients to bowls, food processors, etc.  This has been such a great addition to our kitchen!