Adjustable Baby Climber - Pikler Triangle

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Introduction: Adjustable Baby Climber - Pikler Triangle

About: I'm a mechanical engineer in the Eindhoven region. In my spare time I like to make random stuff, both usefull and especially useless.

My son is a little monkey and climbs on everything these days. Especially his chair for the dining table at his grandparent's place is used a lot. Since the holiday season is coming, we decided we wanted to get him one of those Pikler Triangles. A climbing frame developed by Emmi Pikler, a Hungarian pediatrician in the 1940's, developed to help children develop their motor skills and confidence.

That's where the problem started for us. We searched the internet and quickly found out we wanted to have one which we could reassemble in different ways. This would keep it fun for our son, but also for ourselves to look at. But these things are really expensive. So we decided to make it ourselves and came up with the design from this Instructable.

For assembly we split the design in climbing panels and couple panels. By using different assembly hole locations for the climbing and couple panels we achieved an enormous amount of flexibility in how to assemble the Baby Climber. Two of our favorites are the Farmhouse (on the left) and the Tractor (on the right) made of respectively 4 and 6 climbing panels.

Step 1: Materials & Tools:

I wanted a lot of options how to assemble the climber, so decided to make 6 climbing panels in total. If you would decide on making this, I would suggest to make at least 3, but ideally 4 or more. I've included a suggestion for both 3 and 4 climbing panels on what to make with them here on the left. The 4 climbing panel assembly is the traditional Pikler Triangle.

In materials overview below I've indicated the materials for a single climbing panel. If you like to know how much plywood you need in terms of full sheets, please take a look at www.cutlistoptimizer.com. For a single climbing panel you need 4 times 10.5cm x 47cm and 2 times 10.5cm x 23.5cm.

Materials:

  • Thin plywood (6mm thick, 10.5cm x 71cm, used for template)
  • Plywood (birch ply 15mm thick, used for panels)
  • Rod (28mm, 4x 77cm)
  • Wood glue
  • M6x40 Flat Head Hex Socket Nut (12x, together with Barrel Nut should be able to clamp 45mm)
  • M6 Flat Head Hex Socket Barrel Nut (12x)
  • Varnish/Paint
  • Spray glue

Tools:

  • Table saw (including crosscut sledge)
  • Jigsaw / Bandsaw (blade suitable for curves)
  • Disc sander
  • Router (including round over bit 3mm)
  • Drill press (2mm, 6mm, 9mm wood drill bit; 28mm forstner drill bit; countersink drill bit)
  • Clamps
  • Scissors

Step 2: Templates

Let's start the build by downloading and printing the templates I added to this step. Template "Climbing Panel" is used to make 2 inner panels and 2 outer panels, which together form 1 climbing panel, template "Coupler Panel" is used to make 2 couple panels. Tape or glue the 2 template "Climbing Panel" parts together. Once glued use spray glue to glue them to the thin plywood (6mm).

Now start by cutting the template roughly to shape. The disc sander can be used to sand the rounded parts of the templates to the final shape. Use a table saw instead of the disc sander to get the cleanest straight lines. Once finished with the outer shape all holes should be drilled with the 2mm drill bit. Make sure to position them the best you can, optionally you can use an awl to do this. The holes will be used to transfer them to the real pieces. A 2mm drill is chosen because it works quite well as predrill size for the final hole sizes.

Step 3: Predrilling

Prepare this step by cutting strips of 10.5cm width from the birch plywood. From these strips cut pieces a bit longer then needed to make the final shapes. This means that per climbing panel you need 4 pieces of approximately 47cm and 2 pieces of approximately 23.5cm.

Now use the wooden templates from before to transfer the holes to the pieces of wood. Make sure to drill all the way through. For 2 of the long pieces 4 holes shouldn't be transferred, these holes are marked with a dashed circle on the paper template.

Also transfer the outside of the templates to the wood using a pencil. This is needed for the next step.

Tip:

Use a backer board when drilling the holes to prevent blowout.

Step 4: Sawing

After all the holes are predrilled the shape should be refined. Use a jigsaw to remove the corners of the wood and close in to the lines. I've added an image to the step to show how close to the line I've refined the shape. As you can see, stay away from the line a couple of mm. This step is done to leave a minimal amount of material for the router to remove when we route the pieces to the final shape in one of the following steps.

Step 5: Drilling

In this step I've included two drill guides in which I've indicated the size of the holes which have to be drilled. For every climbing panel you should make two of each. Use the short, predrilled parts from previous steps for the couple panel, use the long parts for both the inner and outer panel. Also countersink all 6mm and 9mm holes from both sides, but do not countersink the 28mm ones.

In every panel, two holes are not drilled. These holes will be used for the alignment of the templates when cutting the panels to the final shape using the router with a flush trim bit in the shaping step. After this step the holes will be drilled to the correct size.

Tip:

To prevent blow out, drill the holes from both sides. This would mean that you drill 320 holes in this step per climbing panel.

Step 6: Gluing

Probably this step speaks for itself. We need to glue together the inner and outer panels for the climbing panels. Use the bolts and nuts for clamping and alignment of the inner and outer panel. Add additional clamps to the middle to make sure the entire panel is clamped properly.

Step 7: Routing

Now all holes are drilled and the inner and outer panels are glued together we can use the router to shape the panels to their final shape. Use 2mm nails to align the panels and the templates and cut the panels to the final size. Use the roundover bit to round over all the edges. Your kids will appreciate the non-sharp edges. I used these two bits from Bosch Professional (don't let my friends know I didn't use Makita).

In the previous step we didn't drill all the holes such that we would have some 2mm holes for the alignment of the template with the panels in this step. All the routing is done, so these holes can be drilled now. Like before, countersink all the holes.

Tip:

Use a test piece of wood to test the height of the roundover bit.

Step 8: Assembly Panels

Almost time for some assembly, finally. But before we start, we need to cut our 28mm rods to size. Since the plywood is 15mm thick, subtract 3cm from the total width (2x15mm) you like the panels to be, in my case I cut them to 77cm. We need 4 of these pieces for 1 panel. To make it a bit easier to insert the rods you can add a chamfer to both sides.

Also, since the panels aren't assembled yet, this is the perfect opportunity to sand all pieces smooth. I used a combination of my orbital sander and hand sanding and sanded everything up to 120 grid.

Using a small brush apply wood glue to the 28mm holes in the plywood, both on the bottom and the sides. Assemble the panel and clamp them together. Depending on the fit of the rod you might need to use the clamps to force the rods in position. Once assembled measure the skewness and clamp the pieces in such a way that the skewness is no longer there when the glue has dried.

I had quite a tight fit for the rods, so it took some convincing to get them in the holes. However, this also meant that the panels were really straight right after gluing. So it took almost no effort to remove any skewness left in them.

Tip:

Drill shallow holes on both sides of the rod such that excess glue has somewhere to to.

Step 9: Finishing

Before I started, I had planned to not only glue, but also screw the rods in place. Therefore I also predrilled the outer panels. Luckily I had skewers which I could use to fill these holes back up. So in case you did the same as I did, this is the time to close these holes.

Apply the finish of your choice, oil, lacquer or a nice color. However, make sure you apply a finish suitable for toys. In total I applied 4 layers with a light sanding in between with a 180 grid sandpaper.

Step 10: Pikler Triangle Assembly

Wow, all done with the build, so we can now enjoy the baby climber, except that it is still in pieces. So let's start putting it all together. The baby climber is designed such that every connection is connected with 3 bolts and nuts. The nut goes on the inside, the bolt on the outside. The connection plate can be assembled in 30-degree increments with respect to the climbing panels. Depending on the angle you choose it may be either the green or the blue holes of the connection panel as indicated here on the right. If everything is made correctly, these holes should line up with 3 out of six holes of the climbing panels. To create a baby climber of your design, simply connect the climbing panels together using a connection panel on both sides.

Down here I added an example on how two climbing panels can be connected and which holes of the connection plate are used.

And way down here I added some examples on what to make with 2 to 6 panels. I call them the Small Pikler, the Slide, the Eiffel Tower, the Trapezoid and the Stairs.

And that's it, the baby climber is finished and your loved ones can start playing with it for years to come. The second day my son had this baby climber he already mastered the Farmhouse. He could almost climb to the top, he played under its roof, a tent was made by adding a blanket on top. So the possibilities of this great toy is only limited by your kids imagination and a bit of yours.

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1 Person Made This Project!

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26 Comments

0
BenM9
BenM9

5 days ago

Awesome, thank you for sharing this - I've made two more using your design, one for my niece for her first birthday, and another for my daughter three months later
Few tweaks /tips for those that follow
- I used some spare laminate floorboard to create the template. The laminate is slightly harder than the MDF I started using so gets damaged less by the router bearing
- I made one template for both the climbing and the connector panels, allowing me to rotate the template to get the 30o offset holes - I wanted to ensure that the holes 100% aligned, and the shaped profile matched
- my main workflow improvement is that I drilled 2mm holes at each end of the inside climbing panel to locate the template, plus the dowel holes, and then increased the dowel holes. I then glued the two pieces for each climbing panel together, popped the template back on and put the 2mm holes through throughout. I then drilled the 6mm holes to the right depth followed by the 9mm holes to the right depth. This way, everything aligned, and it prevented blow out and the need to use a backer board. Also, my joint connectors/nuts were slightly longer than my ply was thick (18mm ply Vs 20mm), so went into the inside board by c.2mm

Screenshot_20220119-232430.pngScreenshot_20220119-232351.pngIMG_20210508_003130346.jpg
0
ruudcreates
ruudcreates

Reply 5 days ago

That is awesome BenM9, really love the colors you used. If your family enjoys it as much as ours I'm sure you will be happy you build it. Thanks for the share and comments. :)

0
BenM9
BenM9

Reply 5 days ago

Thanks! Painting took A LONG TIME.

Very happy I made it, I learnt a lot, and it was a good thing to do.

Thanks again for sharing your design

0
plorsa
plorsa

6 months ago

This proyect is awesome! I´m doing it in Chile for my 1 year old son. I will post images when it is finished. Thank you very much

0
ruudcreates
ruudcreates

Reply 6 months ago

Very cool, good luck with your build.

0
jvbrown919
jvbrown919

Question 6 months ago on Step 10

I am getting all of my materials ready to build this. Would it be possible to see a picture of the barrel nut? And how it's used? I don't quite understand "The nut goes on the inside, the bolt on the outside." Thanks!

0
dianamlbp
dianamlbp

9 months ago

Great job! Thanks so much!

0
PeteF19
PeteF19

Question 1 year ago on Introduction

What is the birch plywood used for? It looks like the other plywood is used for the sections and connecting parts.

0
ruudcreates
ruudcreates

Answer 1 year ago

Sorry if this wasn't clear, will change that directly. But 6 mm ply is for the template. 15mm birch ply is for the the rest.

0
ajitam
ajitam

1 year ago

(sorry if I missed it somewhere) what is very aprox. cost of all the materials?

0
ruudcreates
ruudcreates

Reply 1 year ago

Hi ajitam,

You didn't miss that. But it depends on the number of panels you make and where your from. In my case, for 6 panels it is approximately like this:
Wood: 100 (Have enough plywood left for a new project)
Bolt + Nuts: 10
Finish: 15
28mm drillbit: 25
Hope to have helped you with it.

Ruud
0
_ene
_ene

1 year ago

Very nice :)
I'm already building something similar for my son (but with 45° increments instead of 30°).
But adding more elements to the 'standard' 4 is a nice idea :D

0
ruudcreates
ruudcreates

Reply 1 year ago

Cool, I'd love to see what you've made.

0
hyla.dentillia
hyla.dentillia

1 year ago

Any idea how much weight this could handle? My kids are in the 20-40lbs range right now... looks like lots of fun when the weather isn’t good.

0
ruudcreates
ruudcreates

Reply 1 year ago

I have no exact idea. But I sat on it without any problems (70ish kg). my son is now around 14 kg (appr 30 lbs I think) and I would easily let 2 or 3 kids a little bigger then him play on it.
Panels are really sturdy, all play (and therefore weakest point) is in the bolted connection.

0
jongscx
jongscx

1 year ago

I love the modular design of this! Great job!

0
ruudcreates
ruudcreates

Reply 1 year ago

Thank you.

0
JordenL1
JordenL1

1 year ago

Wow my wife and I built one similar to this last year from an other instructable. Your is so much better I kind of want to make this one as well.

0
ruudcreates
ruudcreates

Reply 1 year ago

Ghehe, thank you. But I think one of these is already large enough. Can't imagine to have 2 around the living room, or dining room, or kitchen, or wherever else.