The Littlest Helper Tower

Submitted by Ana White on Wed, 06/12/2019 - 14:34
Difficulty
Intermediate
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Build your own toddler step stool and bring your child to counter height. Features adjustable height platform, removable tip resistant kit, and optional fold flat modification.

blue little helper tower in white kitchen

Reader submitted photo by Ginger and the Huth

Dimensions
dimensions diagram for little helper tower
Dimensions are shown above. Heights of rungs are adjustable platform heights. Platform measures 15″ x 18″. You can add additional guards to fit the special needs of your individual child. For an older child you could remove the tip resistant kit for a more compact profile.

Preparation

Shopping List

1 – 1×8, 8 feet long

4 – 1×2, 8 feet long

1 – 1×3, 8 feet long

Cut List

4 – 1×2 @ 38″ (Legs)

8 – 1×2 @ 15″ (Ladder rungs)

1 – 1×8 @ 15″ (Arches) OR 2 - 1x3 @ 15" (Substitute for arches)

2 – 1×8 @ 16 1/2″ (Front and Back Sides)

2 – 1×8 @ 18″ (Platform)

2 – 1×2 @ 15″ (Platform Supports)

2 – 1×2 @ 16 1/2″ (Bottom Supports)

2 – 1×3 @ 16 1/2″ (Top Supports)

2 – 1×3 @ 24″ (Tip Resistors)

4 – 1×3 @ 3″ (Tip Resistors)

Tools
Tape Measure
Speed Square
Pencil
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Drill
Circular Saw
Jigsaw
Power Sander
Level
Drill Bit Set

Instructions

Step 1

Cut Arches From the 1×8 that is 15″ long, cut arches as shown in diagram with a jigsaw.  Adjust so you can get both arches on the 1x8.

NOTE: Some people just opt for straight boards across as done in this reader submitted photo. 

simple little helper tower modification

You can substitute for 1x3 instead.  This will simplify the building process.

Step 2

Ladder Rungs
 

Measure and mark legs for ladder rung positions. Drill 3/4" pocket holes and apply glue to ends of ladder rungs. Attach with 1-1/4" pocket hole screws.

Build two identical.

Step 3

Assembly

Mark the location of the end pieces and predrill holes. Apply glue and screw in place with pocket hole screws. Adjust for square. You can add additional rails to the front and back as you see fit, but keep the sides open so your youngster can crawl in and out of the helping tower.

Step 4

Platform

Next, build your platform by marking the 1x8s that are 18″ long 1″ from the outsides. Attach with glue and 1 1/4″ screws the platform supports. These platform supports not only join the 1x8s, but they also keep the platform in place inside the helping tower.

Step 5

Step 6

Tip Resistant Foot

Round the corners on the tip resistors as shown above. Screw together. You can optionally exclude the smaller tip resistors, as side to side tipping is less likely than backward tipping. You know your child better than anyone. Build to suit your child’s needs

Step 7

Attach Tip Resistant Footer

Simply screw the tip resistant footer to the legs as shown above.

Step 8

Folding Mod

By placing hinges instead of screwing the front and back pieces to the side pieces, you can make the Little Helper Tower fold easily. Just make sure you use plenty of strong hinges, make the platform fit very tight (adjust the inset on the ends to 3/4″ instead of 1″ in step 4, and regularly check to make sure your hinges are not loose. I personally prefer simplicity, and any time you add hinges, it increases the complexity. But for those of you who require storage for the Little Helper Tower (would slide under a bed easily) this mod if done with care can be the solution.

Step 9

Comments

In reply to by chris (not verified)

Trishdish

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 21:29

I thought so too at first...and then I realized that right now my kids stand on a step stool when they help bake and they fall off that all the time! I think having the railing around them would help especially since mine are old enough to grab the rail if they started to loose their balance. I'm gonna try it!

Danielle (not verified)

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 02:52

Yay! We have a 3-year-old who loves to help with *everything* and this is perfect! I've been eyeing the $200 models and they just are NOT in our budget -- can't wait to get this made for our girl -- thanks SO much!!

Concretin Nik (not verified)

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 03:25

So glad you did this one! I've been meaning to do this myself ever since I saw a learning tower... and the $250+ price tags... Now I can move on directly to building rather than design. My 3 year old is gonna dig it! Now he can start doin' dishes! HA!

lee (not verified)

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 03:36

just thought you should remind readers that this tower is not only great for getting the kids to counter height for kitchen helping, but with the addition of a blanket it becomes a play house or puppet theatre.

Corky King (not verified)

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 04:02

Ana,

I'm sending these plans to friends who have a very active toddler. BUT, when I saw this, I immediately thought of how cool it would be to add removable curtain rods - pressure fitted rods - to make this into a PUPPET THEATER! You would need four of them, so the sides and back would be closed. The front rod should be positioned about half-way back to create the "stage" and the front curtains should be split in the middle. How cute would that be?

Tracey (not verified)

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 05:01

I. Need. One. My 2-year old drags chairs all around the house so he can "help" me. Or so he can help himself get that toy that's out of his reach (usually with good reason...)

Kassie (not verified)

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 05:05

Anna, for you to do what you do and for free, you are amazing. Thank you so much. I have been looking at your website for a couple of weeks now trying to decide what my first project will be and waiting for my husband to get his project car out of the garage. The helping tower is going to be my first project and I couldnt be more excited. I have a two year old that pushes chairs all around my house to help me. My four year old is handicapped and wants to help me so bad but she cant stand on a chair. so this will be perfect for her and save me from having to search my house for my chairs. Thank you so much

Kerrie (not verified)

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 05:27

I wish my kitchen was bigger! My kitchen is smaller than most apartments! Under $20 is a steal too! These sell for $150 online!

Maybe one day when I get a bigger house! (a family of 5 in a house that's just over 1000 sq. ft.! We're a little cramped.)

Kim (not verified)

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 05:37

So excited for this one! I already forwarded it to my dad (aka the one with the tools). We have had too many slips off stools and chairs at our house.

Thanks Ana!

Cassandra (not verified)

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 05:56

Perfect timing!!! I was just trying to think up plans for something like this over the holiday! My 20 month-old likes to "help" me in the kitchen. I let her sit on her knees on a tall chair but it makes me SO nervous. Can't wait to build this.

Margaret V (not verified)

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 06:14

I'm considering making this my first ever building project *yikes!* and wondered if you could provide a tool list for the novices. I'm sure it's probably obvious, but I'd like to make sure I have everything I need before I start.

Thanks! Your blog is lovely and so empowering!

NichyB (not verified)

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 06:29

This is AMAZING! I have the Learning Tower and I spent $$$ on it- I wish I would have had this plan before dropping all that money!! I've shared this plan with all my friends who wanted the Tower but couldn't afford it. Thanks Ana for making some little kiddos happy helpers! :)

Teri (not verified)

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 07:13

Thanks so much Ana ... I've been admiring these in catalogs for years with the plan of always making my own for my granddaughter. We are snowed in, so I'm thinking it is a good project for us to work on. And I may make a few others for gifts. I can't think of a better gift for a small child.

laree (not verified)

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 07:15

Brilliant! I love this! If only I had a place in my house I could actually keep it . . . .

claydowling

Tue, 05/24/2011 - 07:11

if it's dried. Only a few, that you're unlikely to find at a home improvement store, are dangerous before they're dried, and they're specialized products with a price tag to match.

Bob Flexner wrote an article about this a few years back, basically that if it would work on wood, once a finish has cured it's safe to store food and eat off of, which is more sensitive than chewing because of the ability to leach chemicals. A transcript of the article is here: http://www.mail-archive.com/blindhandyman@yahoogroups.com/msg17636.html

Sabrina (not verified)

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 12:29

Super cute! I've ben tempted by the retail version (which does coops, btw, for the non-builders who are good organizers) but still put off by the $100+ price and the space it takes up.

For this price, I might justify the space!

shorty (not verified)

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 20:59

I just wanted to thank you for this WONDERFUL blog!!! I have yet to make anything but when the times comes I know I will be able to do it with all the wonderful help you have given us! My friend has made so much furniture from this site I think her house has had a complete make over this year!!! I hope you have a WONDERFUL new year and that next will be even better for you!

Homebirth Mama (not verified)

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 22:16

brilliant Ana! thank you so, so much for this one!

i was just thinking last week that it would be simply awesome if you hacked the learning tower. when i stopped by to finalize my choices of projects for january, to my delight, i saw that you did hack them.

you totally, completely, utterly, MEGA rock!

Homebirth Mama (not verified)

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 22:17

there are many brands of non-toxic paint out there. bio-shield, afm safecoat. milk paint would be a fantastic choice too.

Heather Fox (not verified)

Sat, 01/01/2011 - 13:19

Have you thought about a second life for this project. I was thinking that we'd make this for our girls and when they get too tall, it can be quickly modified to a puppet theater or playhouse.

Lavina D. (not verified)

Sat, 01/01/2011 - 18:09

I am SUPER excited about this one! I think I have all the lumber in the garage to make it! Do you think the tower would maintain its' stability if I widened it to fit two children? I was thinking 24 inches. Thanks.

Al Benton (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 06:22

Ana, great design! We have twin granddaughters that just turned 3. My first thought was one wider stand but ruled it out. They're very competitive so one each may be safer. They love helping mom in the kitchen.

Cheryl (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 18:17

We have a family of five in just over 1000 sq. ft. as well and I actually have a learning tower that someone gave me (otherwise I'd be building this right now). The LT has actually made more room for me in the kitchen, because both my boys (3 and 1) can stand on it together versus each on a chair. My one year-old loves to hang out on it while I do lots of other stuff, too. In my case it was worth the space it takes up and Anna is right, it's not as big as it looks.

farm-marm (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 20:42

Kerrie! I have 5kids and me and hubby in 1200 sf. If we can do it anyone can! Its tight to be sure but with creativity you can make it work! Thanks to Ana I have so many ideas just waiting to build! I too thought this would be great for my 2 toddlers as a great climber. They could use it in the kitchen too. LOVE it Ana! Thanks for your site it's pure genius!

Ana White (not verified)

Mon, 01/03/2011 - 08:10

Heather, my daughter is four, so she really is on the upper end of needing this. But she is fascinated with using it as a "tower" and playing Rapunzel and is constantly draping blankets over it and making forts. It is her favorite thing right now! I would like to add a chalkboard/easel as well . . . and I did make a folding mod, so check back for that post.

I would not buy this(retails for $150-$200) with an only child because of the cost/space considerations, but if you can make it for $20, that changes everything. So when your child outgrows it in a few years, there will be little guilt about repurposing or donating or handing it down.

Annie (not verified)

Tue, 01/04/2011 - 06:02

I have so many "ohhhh this is gonna be my first project! " but now seeing this, I think this just might be it! I'm scared to death to try it but after seeing my small 4 year old son stand, sit, stand, kneel on one of our kitchen chairs to do his "mixings", I knew that he needs to have one of these! Thanks Ana!

Homebirth Mama (not verified)

Tue, 01/04/2011 - 10:50

oh! most home depots carry yolo colorhouse paint now. i haven't researched that one as much as the others i suggested, but i do believe it is no-voc, no poly's, and pretty safe. :)

Al Benton (not verified)

Tue, 01/04/2011 - 11:16

Well, after consulting with the twins Mom, we're going to widen the Tower by 6" as you suggest, so both can use it together.

April K (not verified)

Tue, 01/04/2011 - 15:42

I bought the materials for this today at Home Depot and was fortunate to get a guy nice enough to make all my cuts! But I am still sooooo nervous about getting started!

My husband gave me the go ahead about 2 weeks ago to purchase the $150 kitchen helper online but I just wasn't ready to pay that much. The following week these plans were posted here! We really need it because our 4 year old daughter has spina bifida and it's just not safe for her to kneel on a chair since she doesn't have good balance. I used to let her sit on our island to help me until she fell head first onto the ceramic tile floor and had to rush her to the ER. I guess $150 for the kitchen tower would have been cheaper than that, huh?!? Wish me luck!!!

Anna (not verified)

Wed, 01/05/2011 - 07:39

I have been on vacation from your blog for too many days!!! I have literally been trying to figure out something just like your design. My daughter wants me to hold her constantly when I am in the kitchen or working at a table or whatever. Now she can see what I am doing but not be on my hip while I am doing dishes and painting the play kitchen i just built from YOUR PLANS!!! I don't think I can thank you enough for all of your inspiration

Dawn (not verified)

Wed, 01/05/2011 - 11:20

Oh, thank you, thank you! I've had my eye on the Learning Tower and it's $200 price tag for a year now...this is a totally do-able project and will make me, my husband and our son so very happy. $20 in materials, really?! I am so excited. Thanks for sharing your plans with us.

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