Necessity, the mother of inspiration.
A full two weeks before black Friday, my wife starts asking her sisters if they have any ideas on Christmas presents for their kids, so we can have the gift list ready for buying.
This year, one of my sisters-in-law asked if I could possibly make a pair of identical kids chairs.

The reason for this was one of those “It will come back to hunt you” gifts I made two years ago.
For our niece’s birthday, I made her a small chair and desk.

Without knowledge or intention, I had sowed the seeds of sibling rivalry.

It was a great success, but it also generated a problem: her little brother fought her constantly for the chair.
So for that Christmas, my sister-in-law asked it I could make a chair and desk for him.
Since I built the first chair and desk “by ear” I didn’t have a set of plans to build a second set. So the next set turned out a bit different from the first.

In the end, what happens is that both kids always want the SAME chair, so that’s why my sister-in-law wanted an identical set for presents this year.

Roughly at the same time, our son migrated his homework work area from the dining room table to my wife’s home office. The space is small, so he ends up doing his work sitting on the floor and using a small portable bed table as a work surface.
He really dislikes working like that, but he wants to be close to mommy, so now he also needs a small table and chair.
With all this building to do, I thought that maybe a better idea was to build a chair/desk combo, something like a school desk.


I'm entering the plusDuo in the Design Competition. If you like it, feel free to vote for me. The mac and the laser cutter would be put to great use for many a future Instructables :D

Step 1: The Design.

I went online to see what was out there, but I didn’t find anything that I really liked. One of the biggest drawbacks to a school desk was that once its user outgrew it, it really wasn’t useful for anything else.
That got me thinking of my sister and her childhood chair. She’s had it since she was 5 and it’s not a really nice chair, but it’s sturdy and she still uses it as a one-step stepladder or to sit on when she’s doing something really close to the floor.
Then I remembered that back in school I used to sit in my chair backwards a lot, using the backrest to support my arms when we did group activities that required us to place our chairs in a circle.
That’s what sparked the idea of designing a convertible chair, one that was a conventional chair  “in the normal position” and that could transform into second a shape that would use the backrest as a desk in the “convertible position”, so that once the kids outgrew it, they could still keep it around and use it like my sister.
Now, this took me a few days to figure out, so when my wife asked me how things were going, I made a rough model out of cardboard and showed it to her. Experience has taught me that it’s much easier to explain some of my ideas to her like that.
She liked the idea and told me to go ahead and build it. I said that while the model proved the concept, it was really ugly. She was not convinced that the extra time I would take to come up with a nicer design would be worth it (risking missing the Christmas deadline), but in the end I was able to convince her to let me take the time to improve the look of the chair.
I went back to Google and started looking at kid’s chairs, taking ideas in.

I really liked a very modern looking bent plywood chair (450usd ouch) and really considered building something similar. I had always wanted to make something out of bent plywood, and this looked like the perfect excuse.

But looking at some Instructables that showed the process, I had to admit that I didn't have the time to be able to pull off the project in time for Christmas. 

So, I had to put down some ground rules for the chair.
  1. It had to be easy to build
  2. It had to be fast to build
  3. I did not have to buy/build any tool to make it
  4. Cheap to make (I had to make 4 copies - for my niece, nephew, and my two kids)
  5. It had to look "kid nice", but not childish, so that the kids would want to keep it for years.
So, bet plywood was out of the question, normal plywood was in.

I have a book titled 1000 chairs from Taschen that I re-looked at (can you tell that I like chairs?).

Then, with my head filled with many many chairs, I got some thin cardboard from a cookie box, and sketched freehand the profile of a chair. I gave it a slight Androck profile, but more modern in style and a lot more boxy. I was careful with the center of gravity in the desk mode (no tipping over please).

That’s how Model 2 was born. I showed it to my wife and she had to admit that it really did look a lot nicer than the first one.
I used Sketchup to draw the plans and made a 1/2-scale model.
And I didn’t like it. Viewed from the side, I had made the legs and the backrest all the same width, and while it looked nice, it kind of looked a bit  “grown up”.

Also, I had made the front wider than the back, and the scale model showed that it didn’t look so nice in a bigger chair, so I discarded that part of the design.

I took a pencil and started to draw on the model making the legs thinner, changing proportions. I drew a line that made the bottom of the legs bigger than the top, and that hit home. It looked a lot cuter but without being too cartoonish, so I cut the model to its new design.

Also, as you can see from the pics of the finished chair, when it's in desk mode, it looks a little like a very boxy dog!

Another feature of the chair is that the backrest locks-in between the movable and fixed drawer tops so that when using it as a chair the backrest won't move.

Now the final version of the chair was ready, all it needed was a name.

Why did I choose the plusDuo?

Because the seat is also a drawer, the backrest a table top, the chair's legs plus seat become a stool, the back brace becomes the desk support and also acts as a carrying handle.
<p>this needs an Arduino. :)</p><p>So it took me while to figure out what makes the desk remain level. Is it really just the sliding latch? It seems like the leverage of the big desk surface would overcome the small latch pretty quickly. Have you had any requests for upgrades from the end users?</p><p>This is a great looking and simple design. </p>
<p>Hi!</p><p>Well, the latch works really well and we haven't had a problem yet. My kids still love them and use them every day for homework and to sit and play board games on a ikea LACK table; turns out they're &quot;hight compatible&quot;.</p><p>What I have been asked to do is a adult size chair. Hopefully I'll be able to find enough time this year to build one :D</p>
I like it
These are so cute!
Very cool<br/>
Nice design and best instructable. Think shouldnt be dificult to scale it up to fit bigger kids. Why do you use so many nails and none screw? Congratulations!
well, speed of build was a big factor. Nails plus glue are a lot faster than screws.
And no, it would not be difficult at all to scale to any size you want. Just print the template out to the size you want and use it as a cutting guid.
The design is very fun!
thank you :D
Fun design. I'm thinking this needs to be scaled up for me to use as a patio chair and occasional laptop desk.
As a mater of fact, two people have asked me for &quot;grown up&quot; versions. The first is a friend who lives in Europe (where in most cases space is tight) and a second for an outside chair that could be used for barbeques
Urant, awesome instructable...the design process and mock-ups are super. Intend to use as an example for my PLTW Intro to Engineering Design class. Wife pinned it for my Things-To-Do list for grandchildren.
I just visited the PLTW webpage. <br>I'm overwhelmed and deeply honored that you would even consider using my Instructable as an example for you class. <br> <br>Thank you, thank you
You just made my day!! <br>Hope your grandchildren get there plusDuo soon :D <br>Maybe you could post a pic of your chairs when they're done.
wow I am jealous for such a great idea and execution. wonderful job. certainly would be interested in such nursery furniture for children having a great
Thank you! You know, ZaneEricB is also thinking about making some plusDuo's for a kinder garden.
Totally adorable! Nice work and expertly detailed plans! :) I want to be that sister in law that benefits from all your hard work! :) hee hee
Thanks! I do try to be a good uncle and brother in law :D
Incredible, I have been finalizing my chair instructable. You beat me to the quick. Nice design, great job.
Thanks! w <br>What's you 'tribl's name?
Sorry, A bit crytpical. What's your chair instructables name?
I haven't chosen one yet. That is one of the things that needed to be finalized. I think though, I will go my alternate instructable. I can submit my chair another time. Best success with your plusDuo kid's chair/desk. <br>ezman
Thank you!
Very awesome design! I think I'll have to make a few of these for my wife's calssroom... Thanksman!
Really hope you do!! my kids and nephews love them!

About This Instructable


509 favorites


Bio: A tinker since the cradle, I love looking at things and trying to figure out how they work and the best way to mod them
More by urant: Castle Loft Bed How to build the plusDuo kid's chair/desk The Psychoacoustic Bucket from Hell
Add instructable to: