KinderShop is the name I call my woodworking program at the local daycare. The program is open to four and five year olds. (Must be at least four when the class starts in September.) This year I have 12 students and they have developed enough skills that we can do some really cool projects. This project is a outdoor chair that is commonly called a Viking chair, camping chair, or plank chair. The first one I saw was while traveling in Norway. It is easy to construct and fun to build. I took the dimensions and reduced them by 2/3s to size it for a child. I then refined the dimensions so it could be built with 9ft 4in of 2x3s and 3ft of 1x2s. It cost about $3.00 to build. It is a great project for an adult (at any woodworking level) to do with a favorite kid. It is also a great project for birthday parties or youth activity groups.
A pdf with the dimensions of the pieces plus assembly is included with this instructable.
Step 1: Define Nature of the Project and Buy Wood
Before you buy the wood you need to decide if this will be an "Assemble Only" or "Cut and Assemble" project. My KinderKids have been with me seven months so they have enough saw skills to be able to cut the wood with my assistance. Each chair will need two 32" pieces (1/3 of an 8ft board) of a 2x3", one 48" ( 1/2 of 8ft. board) of a 2x3, and six 6" piece of 1x2".
You have three choices.
- Have the boards cut to rough size and help the kids cut them to final size.
- Cut the boards to final size yourself. (This is called "kitting the project.)
- Have the pieces cut to the exact size at the home center. This allows someone with no sawing tools or skills to be able to kit this project.
Each chair needs 7/6ths, 8ft 2x3s. So six chairs can be built from seven 8ft 2x3s with no scrap extra. (I always let the home center cut the 6" 1x2s. An 8ft piece will provide 15, 6" slat pieces after the width of the saw blade is considered. This is enough for 2-1/2 chairs.)
The pieces are laid out this way so the center parts of the back and seat all come from the same board. This is important.
Step 2: Cut Boards for Seat
You will need the 27" center piece and the two 9" pieces that form the seat. Either help the kids cut their own and take them from the precut kit. When cutting the board this is time for a math lesson with the tape measure. I ask each kid to find 27". Some find it immediately, some take a while. Then they measure 9". some times they get 6" by mistake. I noticed that some of the kids were seeing how far they could count on the tape measure. This is far different from when they first started and could not describe how long of a piece they wanted.
Step 3: Assemble Seat
Glue the side pieces of the seat at one end of the center board. Glue the slats across the three seat pieces. They should be 3/4" away from the edges, Either nail or screw each in six places for each piece. Either will need to be 1-3/4" in length.
Nails are cheaper and kids love to hammer. Screws are quieter but take a lot of effort to but in by hand. Kids love to use the hand drill with my assistance.
My Kinderkids have been hammering since week three. I taught them hammer safety and they do it well. Occasionally someone hits a finger with a hammer. This is because they weren't following the rules of safe hammering. Hitting your finger with a hammer will hurt but will not maim and lessons that hurt but do not maim are lessons well learned. (For some reason when I explain this to a group of parents, most fathers will slightly nod in agreement and most mothers will stiffen a bit. Go figure. I would rather a kid learn not to put their fingers in the wrong place when learning to hammer than to learn it when they get older and put a finger too near a fan belt on a car. That will maim!)
I will help place the two outside nails and they can finish the inner four. I drill pilot holes to aid nail placement and make nailing easier. Nailing a 5D finish nail can be difficult even for an adult.
Step 4: Rasp Edges of the Tang of Seat Piece
The tang of the seat piece is going to fit into a hole in the back piece. At first this fit will be snug. To help get it started, the edges of the tang are rasped a bit.
Step 5: Assemble Back
You will need the two 22" outside pieces, a 7" piece for center bottom, and a 13-7/16" center piece. You will also need six of the 6" slats. Either help the kids cut their own and take them from the precut kit.
Now the KinderKids love to hammer until they don't. So they asked if they could screw the backs together. I try to give them as much freedom in deciding how to assemble their projects so the pieces are glued together and the slats screwed to the back pieces.
Step 6: Assemble
To assemble place the front edge of the seat on the floor and slip the back onto the tang. Hold onto the back and pound the seat into place. The kids love this step.
The chair is complete. It is a good size for a four or five year old. I will later publish plans sized for older children and adults.
Remember besides making a chair you are also making memories, It may not be a perfect chair but it will be a perfect memory,