236 – Kids Kitchen Step Stool

Video - December 9, 2014

The Kids Kitchen Step Stool is an asset to any family with kids! One of Nicole’s favorite things to do with our son is cook. At this stage, it’s mostly measuring ingredients and stirring but we’ll soon move on to cutting vegetables and other fun culinary tasks. And while many adults look at cooking as a chore, kids see it a compelling and fun way to be useful. Not only that, but our son is a very picky eater. We find that making him a part of the cooking process makes it much easier for him to try new foods.

So clearly, we embrace his presence in the kitchen. To that end, he usually uses either a step-stool or a chair to do his work. Unfortunately, the stool is too short, the chair is too tall, and neither of them proves to be conducive to longer cooking sessions. So I set out to design a kids step-stool that includes features like safety elements, height adjustability, custom-sizing for kitchen countertops, and a nice wide platform. I looked around at some of the commercial designs for inspiration and really didn’t like what I saw. Most of them were fairly unattractive plywood structures that looked more at home in a Gymboree than in a kitchen. Since we have to look at this thing every day, I decided it must also be attractive. So a stylish appearance was the final feature I included. The end result is the Kids Kitchen Step Stool with some Arts & Crafts flair.

The Plans

The Materials

domino-mortisesI used 4/4 cherry for everything but you certainly could use 3/4″ plywood if that better suits your needs. The joints are constructed with the Festool Domino and the knockdown hardware consists of 1/4-20 threaded inserts and 1/4-20 bolts. As an alternative to Domino joints, consider the humble classic dowel!

The Finish

applying-finishWhen it comes to a project like this one, damage isn’t a question of “if” it’s a question of “when.” So I opted for a fairly light-duty finish that’s easily repairable, much like I might use on a workbench in the shop. The finish is an oil/varnish blend. In the video, you’ll see I used Watco Teak Oil (an outdoor formulation) but only because I wanted to get rid of the can before it went bad.

In Use

Since it’s the holiday season, the Kids Kitchen Step Stool has seen a lot of use already. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do, giving our son a comfortable place to hang out while actively participating in kitchen activities. I should note that he’s actually more attentive and has more patience while he’s using the step stool. Something about it makes his experience more of a learning “event” rather than simply helping mom or dad. He still uses a regular step stool to get water and do other small tasks, but when it’s time to cook with mom he’s all about his Kids Kitchen Step Stool.

Now if you don’t get it, you’re not alone. A common question I received when posting pictures of this project was, “I don’t understand how it works!” If that’s the case, it’s only because you’re thinking like an adult. When a kid sees this thing, they know exactly how it works, how to get into it, and how to get out of it. You’ll even see my son using it for the first time at the end of this video and no one needed to give him any direction at all.

If you decide to build one of these bad boys, send us a pic with your kid using it. We’d love to share it with the world! And as a bit of a disclaimer, we can make no assertions about the overall safety of this design. I decided that this project is safe enough for MY children to use. You’ll have to do the same for yours.

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