Chair for a toddler

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
Thought I’d share photos of a chair I made for my first son in 1974. He was a little over 1 year old at the time. He adopted the chair as his own for a year or so until I made him a larger one. Second son comes along and he gets the chair. Both boys were pretty rough on the thing requiring many desperate repairs. Grand daughter comes along and she gets to use it. She’s not as rough on it as the boys. She knows it is a chair and not a soccer ball.

The original chair was doweled together. Don’t do that. Dowel joints at the stress points won’t hold up to occasional trips down the stairs. Fast forward to 2016. I made some chairs for the grand children of some of my friends. This construction method seems to be the best and most durable.

These mini chairs do require some effort and their useful life is very short term but its worth it to see a child adopt a piece of furniture as theirs. They know that this chair is for them and no one else in the family.

I’m going to have to made some more chairs very soon because this 18 month old is growing quickly. The old chair is barely 6” off the floor. I’ll make the next one about 7-1/2” off the floor and then another 9-1/2” off the floor.

The table that can be seen is a Formica covered piece of plywood on a $20.00 Harbor Freight folding stool. I’ll be making real table with a Formica covered top of different dimensions. I plan to make the legs so that I can put in 2” spacers on the bottoms of the legs as the kid grows. I want that folding stool back.







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Kid sitting at the chair. she was feeling puny so I got a non blurry shot.

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The original chair. the seat is about 6" off the floor.

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Underside of original chair showing the Nov. 1974 made-on date

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Better chairs. Mortise and tenon. Stock is 3" wide x 1" thick
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Glue up of the sides.

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Glue up of the full chair. The back slats were doweled inio the sides

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In the white, ready for finishing.

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The finished chairs of a much more sturdy design.
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
Thanks.
Looks like I forgot to insert all the photos I had.

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Parts detailed and ready for assembly. No metallic or mechanical fasteners. All pressure glued. Profiling and sanding the side assemblies was the last step in detailing. The intended kid's initials were carved in the back slat. Two of the chairs went to twins.
 

PeteStaehling

New User
Pete
Great project! It really is a joy to see the kids enjoy their own chairs that you made. I know that it warms my heart to see my grandkids use the things I built for them.

These chairs will hopefully be around for their grandkids.
 

Jim M.

Woody
Corporate Member
Very cool Bob, what a great story and build. Your granddaughter is so cute; I see some tea parties in the future for those chairs.
 

Bill Clemmons

Bill
Corporate Member
Thanks for sharing, Bob. Always enjoy making things for the grandkids. Almost as much fun as having them in the shop helping.
 

mquan01

Mike
Corporate Member
Could I get the dimensions of the individual pieces? This looks like a good project to try new skills.
 

Dave Richards

Dave
Senior User
Bob, this is a great project and what a cool piece of furniture for the kids to hand down.

If you were interested in sharing it, I'd be happy to make a plan to upload into the forum Resources. Of course I would understand if you want to keep the design close. It's kind of a special thing for the family.
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
I'm ashamed to say that I didn't keep the dimensions like I had intended. The h frame is made from 1" x 3" walnut stock. Actually I think it cleaned up at 15/16. The back slats were 2-5/8" x 1" with the dowels at 1-5/8" on center. The first slat was tilted back at 5º and the top slat was at 10º. The seat was about 11-1/2" wide glued into a 3/8" wide x 1/2" deep slot. The seat of the smaller chair was 8" off the floor and the taller chair was 9" off the floor. Tenons are 7/8" x 3/8".

I've been studying and measuring the photos to reverse engineer dimensions for a couple of new chairs.

The original chair made in 1974 is 6-1/2" off the floor including the cushion. width 9", overall height 14-5/8". The back was cut from a piece 2-1/2" wide x 14-5/8" long. The front legs from pieces 2" wide x 6-3/8" long. The cross brace is 5-1/4" long. The one I made was from 3/4" thick cherry. The main side frames were put together with dowels rather than mortise and tenon. Won't ever do that again.
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
Bob, this is a great project and what a cool piece of furniture for the kids to hand down.

If you were interested in sharing it, I'd be happy to make a plan to upload into the forum Resources. Of course I would understand if you want to keep the design close. It's kind of a special thing for the family.
I'd be flattered if anyone wanted to duplicate my "design". I'll have to make a couple more chairs to flesh out the dimensions again. I intended to do this in the very near future. If you don't mind waiting, we can pick it up when I've got better information.

The problem with the old smaller chair is that 18 month olds don't really have the coordination to back up and sit down very easily, at least at first. Our grand daughter is getting better at it.

I think on the old small chair if I had made the cross brace 2-3/4" wide instead of 1-3/4" wide, it would have lasted better even though it would not have looked as good.
 

Dave Richards

Dave
Senior User
I can wait until you're ready. If you want to send me sketches of something when you're ready, I'll work with them. Drop me a PM when you have some info and we'll go from there.
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
That's a nice build and should last well.
I'm still working on my chairs. I got distracted with a mini-table/desk that will go with the chairs. One table for our house and one for my son's household. I plan for the top to be covered in some solid color laminate (Formica, etc.). Laminate is easy to clean the writing and drawing marks plus easy to sanitize.

Below are work-in-progress photos. Legs are 14-1/2" high x 1-3/4" square with a 2" spacer for growth. The pad feet have an extra long shank. The ends of the legs were bored for a threaded insert. T-nuts just wouldn't work in this case because of the spacers.

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Leg stock mortised and ready for turning.

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Legs turned with turned spacers. The assembly on the left has spacers installed for testing.
 

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