Introduction: Adjustable Baby Climber - Pikler Triangle
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.
- 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)
- Spray glue
- 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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Second Prize in the
1 Person Made This Project!
- BenM9 made it!