Introduction: The QUB3: an All-Purpose Child Booster
What would you do if you were a foot taller than you are? For some like my little brother (who is 6'4"), height is not an issue. For some like me, I like to delude myself into thinking I would be playing in the NBA if I was a foot taller.
Yet for young people, an extra foot of height might mean the difference between being able to perform everyday tasks such as getting a bowl out of an overhead cabinet or not. The younger the child, the more important an extra few inches can mean. Thus was born the idea for the QUB3! (pronounced as "cube")
I decided to venture a bit into unknown territory with this instructable. It really only (*originally) contains two materials, cardboard and sugru. A fair amount of time went into the design phase to try and make it as useful as possible for the little guys. This is a do-it-all design that adults can probably find plenty of uses for too! Now, on to the building!
Step 1: Design Your Booster
When I was in Cub Scouts as a kid, one of our projects was making a small wooden footstool. We used it for years and years at my parents' house, and it served as some of the inspiration for this project. I knew I wanted something small. I also remembered smacking toes on it several times, so I wanted something a bit less likely to stub a toe. Finally, I realized I had a large television box to dispose of. Then an old instructable occurred to me and I knew I had to try a piece of cardboard furniture.
I decided to create a small booster that would serve many of the same functions as my old footstool. As assistive tech for small kids, I wanted it to have three main functions: stool stepper for potty training; function as a kid's chair for a play room or while watching movies in the living room; or as a chair booster to help them reach an adult table for meals. Basically, this is designed to help kids reach into the adult world. This also would have uses for adults, either as a footstool or to stand on to help extend your reach- for me it's perfect to change batteries in the smoke detectors on my nine foot ceilings.
With my design, there are two main levels. The seat section is about six inches high, and the step section is about 10 inches high. It was also pointed out to me by a friend that I could stack the width to a different height and have three levels. I did add a little bit to make the seat a little wider, but not enough to notice off-hand that it wasn't an exact cube anymore. Still, I like the simplicity and design of a true cube.
There are two different templates- one for the outside sections of the chair to give it arms, and one with only the seat and the back of the chair section. The back of the chair will also help displace the weight if an adult tries to stand on the booster, giving it three sides for support instead of two.
Step 2: Gather Tools and Supplies
Basically, you can use whatever tools you have available to cut up the cardboard. I put all the stuff I used together for a quick picture (forgetting a few things along the way). You'll need cardboard, Sugru of your favorite color, and deck screws for material. Scissors or the boxcutter will wear out your hands pretty quick, that's why I ultimately opted for the small handsaw. After I realized I needed extra support, the cordless screwdriver came in handy.
My idea for the Sugru was to roll it out and add it like you would cake fondant, but I just didn't have enough for the entire cube. So I supplimented my allotment with regular silicone and a touch of green paint and mixed in a cut up milk jug, and old trick I learned back in the day from my Dad.
Step 3: Make the Templates
As mentioned in the first step, I created two types of templates, one for the outside sections, and one for the chair section. I rounded all the outside corners (this design is for kids after all) and rounded the inside holes just to complete the style. At one point I was also going to slightly recline the middle of the chair section to give it a bit of a curve to the seat back, but eventually decided against this for two reasons- I would take more cardboard to add the curve in, and this way keeps a true cube shape which I like the design of.
For the templates, I used very thin cardboard. Namely, I used a Tony's frozen pizza box. It was just thick enough to easily hold its shape, but thin enough to cut very cleanly and get a nice shape for the template. One last note on templates, I ended up creating a few of each, so that when marking out cut lines I could place them beside each other and visually see what layout might work best.
Step 4: Scavenge Cardboard & Start Cutting
There are all kinds of cardboard to scavenge. For furniture purposes it helps if it is clean and unbent, but since it's being laminated, that's not even a requirement. While ideally it would be good to avoid folds in the cardboard, I was worried about not having enough on hand, and used about everything, carefully laying it out to minimize waste. I also quickly found that some cardboard was thicker than others. Some was better to saw, thinner stuff was easier to cut with scissors. For the double corrugated boxes, it helped immensely when I began treating it more like thin wood than cardboard. Keep in mind you will need about 4 times the number of middle pieces as you will for the outside arms. Cut, cut, cut, the more pieces you make, you'll learn about how the cardboard behaves and you will start making them faster and faster.
Step 5: Glue (*& Screw) Your Pieces Together
Once you have all the pieces cut, it might help to lay them all together and weight it down a bit overnight so that the pieces are nice and flat and ready to glue together. I used a spray adhesive and would quickly coat one side of the next piece and slap it against the collective while checking the diagonal corners to make sure it was straight before moving on to the next piece. When all the pieces are together, put something flat on them and weigh it down again overnight to allow the glue to dry fully before the next step.
*My original intent was to use only glue. However after I got all the pieces glued, it was obvious that they weren't going to hold together over the long term on their own. I did stand on it very gently, and while it held, I could see definite weak sections in the structure. At that point, I sliced it back into sections, and inserted deck screws to hold each section to the next. After that, it became strong enough I felt comfortable enough standing on without feeling like it was going to break.
Step 6: File & Sand the Rough Cut
Once the screws are in place and the glue is nice and dry, remove the weights and take a look. If you've been careful while cutting all the pieces out, you will save yourself a lot of time in this step. Basically, between a rasp file and a small sanding board, I just tried to smooth out rough places instead of re-shaping the chair anywhere. Try to find any cardboard straggling off the edges and get rid of it so that you'll get a nice finish in the next couple of steps.
Step 7: Give the Booster a Base Coat
Knowing that I was probably going to be short on the amount of Sugru needed (I was hopeful each pack could do one side of the booster), I decided to start with flex paste to coat the cardboard first. Considering how much it took just to get a base, I quickly figured out that I would probably need a lot more Sugru for the outer finish too. Layer one, sand down, Layer two, sand to finish. Now you're ready for the outer finish.
Step 8: The Outer Coating
After reading this instructable by BrittLiv, I knew that if I ever worked with Sugru, I would want to create my own color. They only have four colors available, and as an Ibler when I learn a neat new trick I usually try to apply it to something I'm working on. I wasn't really sure how much it would take, so I just threw it all in together.
You can apply the Sugru using your hands; I also played around with using a drywall mud scraper with mixed results. Also, along the top of the step section, I added some grooves to help provide a little bit of grip. If you wanted to do so, you could also shape the seat a little bit to help better fit tiny bums in the same way you would see it on something like "Little Tykes" stuff. Basically, just a nice coat over the entire seat to give it a nice look and feel, and you're done!
Step 9: Find the Uses for Your QUB3
The QUB3 is a nice conversation piece, from using it to adjust a camera I place high when taping weddings, to just having it lay around the house it tends to catch people's eyes. Here are a few of the uses I've come up with, and I would love to hear any of yours!
Toddler Play Chair
Small Adult Stool
That's about it, once the QUB3 is completed, it pretty well speaks for itself. This has been lucky instructable number 13, hopefully you didn't run across it on a Friday (when you should have been working anyway). Pictures and comments welcome, and I have some patches left if you post pics. This is also entered in a contest, so please remember to rate and vote for me if you liked it!