How to Make a Kitchen Helper Learning Tower

How to make a kitchen helper learning tower is an easy to follow woodworking tutorial that will reward you with lots of amazing memories with your children. This toddler tower is an easy build, quick, and lots of fun for your child to use. Here is the tutorial, enjoy.

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Kitchen Helper Learning Tower Overview

how to make a kitchen helper learning towerI landed on this design after looking at several different versions online. There were parts that I liked, and parts that I did not. After studying the original learning tower, a little drawing, and using the parts that I liked, this is the result.

Compare this product to any other, and I am sure you will love my counter height design, easy building instructions, and simple finish.

My toddler tower measures 34.5 inches tall. This was just tall enough to bring it up to the bottom of the counters. I added some felt feet on the bottom that adjust by turning, which makes leveling out the piece very easy.

The part that the child stands in measures 18 inches by 12 inches on the outside. This is plenty of room for an average sized child, and not so much that the project looks too big.

One thing that I wanted to improve upon was the height adjustment. There are several methods, but some looked unsafe and other looked complicated.

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My adjustment method allows for 5 different positions, and is a simple matter of screwing in four wood screws to make the adjustment to your helper tower. It can be sized for older kids as well as very young kids. As always, watch your children no matter how big they are. Enjoy the step by step instructions below…

Kitchen Helper Learning Tower – Making the Base

how to make a kitchen helper learning towerThe base of the learning tower measures 18 inches square. The height is 5.5 inches. Use 3/4 inch thick lumber for all parts of the toddler tower.

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The easiest way to make the base is to buy a piece of wood that is already 5.5 inches wide, and cut two pieces that are 18 inches long and two more that are 16.5 inches long.

Join the pieces so that the smaller sides are glued and nailed into the larger pieces, forming an 18 x 18 square. Use brad nails and glue for the attachment method, or you can use a Kreg Jig, or wood screws. Make sure that the box is square, and allow it time to dry while you work on the next step.

Toddler Tower Shelf and Top Trim

how to make a kitchen helper learning towerNext, it’s time to make the trim around the top that will keep your toddler from falling out of the tower. At the same time, make the center step.

Using a piece of wood that is 3.5 inches wide, cut four pieces that are 18 inches long, and four more that are 10.5 inches long.

Just like in the first step, assemble the boxes so that they both measure 18 inches by 12 inches, and set them aside to dry. Make sure they are square, and that they sit flat on the floor or the bench. A couple clamps can help with squaring, and the ground makes a good flat place to leave them while the glue dries.

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Kitchen Helper Legs and Adjustment Holes

how to make a kitchen helper learning towerCut the legs from a piece of wood that measures 3.5 inches wide. Four are needed, and they each measure 34.5 inches long. If your counters are higher or lower, feel free to make an adjustment to the measurement.

Next, measure from the top of one leg (it doesn’t matter which end you measure from as long as you make it the top when you assemble the tower) and make some marks. Mark the leg at 16, 18, 20, 22, and 24 inches from the top. Next, mark the center of the board on top of each mark, which will leave you a + sign. Make a dent with a pointed object in the center of each + to give your drill something to follow.

Drill through each hole based on the wood screws you are using. I used 1 inch screws with large flat heads. The drill I used for the holes allows the threads to pass through without catching. Then, I countersunk the heads about half way through the boards so there would be more bite when the middle shelf is installed.

The way the center shelf attaches is by screwing it in place with the wood screws, so you really don’t need to worry about the holes that much as long as you can pop a couple wood screws through. Drill the first leg and then use it as a template to drill the rest.

Learning Tower Assembly

how to make a kitchen helper learning towerNow that the majority of the parts are made, it’s time to start assembly.

Attach the front legs first, flushing them up to the front of the box. Make sure they are square, and that the side of the legs that you designated as the top is on the top.

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Then, use the top trim to guide you for attaching the back legs at the base. Slide the trim ring to the top, and attach it flush to the tops of the legs. Play around with the frame so that the piece stands straight and square, and then let it dry if you used glue. A couple clamps can help the process.

how to make a kitchen helper learning towerNext, you can add a deck to the bottom box, and the middle step. The best way to do this is with a wide board, cut into 18 inch long pieces.

Cut as many as you need to cover the top of the opening, and then cut a smaller piece to fill in the remainder. Use anything you have for this, because it does not matter how many pieces make the decking.

After covering the bottom of the toddler learning tower box, move on to the middle shelf. Do the same thing, and cover the top with flat pieces until it’s completely covered. This is the adjustable center step for the toddler tower.

Adding the Second Step to the Tower

how to make a kitchen helper learning towerThe second step attaches with wood screws, and has five levels. In reality you can have hundreds of fine adjustments because you can screw into the second step anywhere.

However, once you screw in the first time, you can use the same holes and move it to another level as needed.

Measure so that the ring around the top is high enough to safely hold your toddler without them tipping over the rail, and that’s where you should place your step. Over time, as your toddler gets taller, move the shelf lower until they can stand on the bottom decking without a middle step at all.

Trimming and Final Touches

how to make a kitchen helper learning towerNow that the build is over, you need to child proof your learning tower. This is best done with a belt sander or a palm sander.

Since this is a kids piece, make sure to go over it carefully. Break any sharp corners and edges with the sander. I like to heavily break the corners like the picture on the left. This helps if someone falls on it.

Remove the second step and do the same thing to it. Go over the entire piece several times, rounding and making safe the entire piece. Once you are done, blow it off or wipe off the dust, and then you are ready for finishing.

Finishing Your Learning Tower

how to make a kitchen helper learning towerYou can use any kind of finish you desire for this project, but I recommend something food safe if your kids still chew on things. My tiny boss doesn’t really chew anymore, so I used furniture grade spray lacquer.

Separate the pieces and coat them with finish following the directions on the product you are using. Leave the piece to fully cure before moving it into the home, which will reduce the amount of exposure to fumes.

Finally, on the bottom drill holes near the corners for adjusting feet. You can find these at hardware stores and they come with plastic or metal inserts with felt padded feet on bolts.

Each of them is adjustable up or down once you install it, so you can overcome a little wobble with an adjustment. Also, the felt pads make it easy to pull around the floor. This is great for when you have to move it around the kitchen or workshop. Once you place the tower, simply adjust the felt feet to level out the toddler tower.

How to Make a Kitchen Helper Learning Tower Wrap-Up

The learning tower is a great project for any new parent, and is guaranteed to help you create some amazing memories with your kids. Little kids love helping mom and dad in the kitchen and with projects. This tower puts them right in the middle of the fun. It’s a similar idea to a reach up step stool, but with more features, which is really cool.

You can use this tower for lots of fun stuff like making cookies, decorating cupcakes, building a pinewood derby car, and more. Now you don’t have to worry about your little one falling off a chair, and you can enjoy working together on all sorts of projects.

If you have any questions on How to Make a Kitchen Helper Learning Tower, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Happy building.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. I just made one of these for my Grandson and it is great, he loves it. Great plan and easy to make. I now have to make another and maybe more.
    This is the best of these I have seen and is very safe and sturdy.
    Thanks for pubishing this.

    • Thank you for the comment Ed, and thank you even more for the compliment. I an honored that you find my tutorial to be as helpful as it has been for you, and that you see the strength and safety in the design. My son is a little monkey, so when I designed the tower I wanted it to be a little shorter and a little wider. He really loves having it, and he pushes it around to gain access to different areas of the house. Even as rough as he is on things, it’s been very stable.

      I hope your next few learning tower builds come along well. Thank you again for the kind words, and happy building.

  2. Hello, very excited about trying this. I am not fully understanding your use of the holes for the adjustable height of the second step. Can you please explain that process in more detail?

    • Thank you David. The holes are so that you can move the step up and down based on the height of the child using the project. My son is fairly tall, so I leave the step lower so that the guard rail does the job of holding him in. My daughter will eventually inherit the step stool, and at that point I will have to adjust the step higher because she is pretty short. Essentially you just use four wood screws and move the second step as needed to adjust for the height of the child. Thank you, and please let me know if you have any other questions. Happy building, and I hope you enjoy the project. My tiny boss loves it.

    • You can use plywood for the decking, though I would make sure to cover the edges because it is easier to get splinters. I used Pine because it’s soft, easy to sand, and I didn’t have to worry about splintering in tiny feet like with some other types of wood.

      You can always round the edges, or fill and sand them. Do whatever it takes to reduce the chance of splinters and you should be fine. Happy building.

  3. Just finished this piece. Plans were great & instructions easy to follow. I used bolts with wing nuts for the adjustable step a little extra security! Thinking of putting some of that foam stuff they use for stair treads on the step deck for a little added comfort. Maybe a guitar next!!!
    Cheers thanks for this plan which was requested by my daughter for her toddler.

    • Thank you for sharing your work Guy, and I’m so happy I could help you make something for your grand daughter. I like the improvements with the wing nuts for easier position changes and the more comfortable top with the padding. If you have some pictures I would love to see it. Thank you very much and happy building.
      PS. The guitar is easier than you think. It’s just another woodworking project, and if you approach it with patience, you will be just fine. Email me if you need any help, and thank you again.

  4. I love this and am about to make it my first woodworking learning experience! Question: In the finishing section, when you say “separate the pieces”… do you mean remove the steps or take the entire project apart? (the latter sounds scary!). Thank you! I love your website!!

    • Thank you Michelle. I’m sorry for the way that is worded. What I mean is separate the step from the main unit. Since the step can move around, you can have a hard time finishing behind it, and inside the sides. If you finish the step apart from the rest of the tower, you can put it back in once the finish dries. Thank you again, and happy building.

    • Thank you Al. There is no list of materials in the post, however the materials are discussed in each section as you need them. One of the nice things about this project is that you can make it using anything you have for most of the parts. For example, your uprights don’t have to be the same width as mine. The project will work with narrower or wider uprights.

      Each time you go to a step, the pieces you need are discussed, so if you want to go to the hardware store, just take a few notes from the beginning of each step and you will be in good shape. You don’t need much wood at all. Happy building, and if you have any building questions along the way, please feel free to email me and I’ll be glad to help.

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