Introduction: Pikler Triangle

About: Hi there! My name is Bao and I'm an architect, a woodworker, a maker, and a father. As you can see, I have many hats! I do hope you find my tutorials helpful and that it will inspire you to get out and make so…

I made this Pikler Triangle for my son who recently started to learn how to get up and move around. It was designed by Emmi Pikler in the first half of the 20th century and has been in use for decades in Montessori programs. The triangle was designed for kids to use from 6months up until 5 years old and is aimed to help kids understand and develop their motor skills. This climbing triangle acts as a tool to help them learn on their own, build confidence, problem solve, and understand where their body is in relation to space.

It's a pretty easy project that you can do on a weekend with limited tools. Don't be afraid if you don't have the tools that I used in this video. Here are some substitutions:

Table Saw ---> Use a circular saw with a straight edge

Drill Press ---> Use a power drill with a forstner bit

Band Saw ---> Use a jigsaw

Belt Sander ---> Use a random orbital sander or simple hand sand

Download the plans here!


Paint and Oil Finish :

Knobs :

Threaded Inserts :

Connecting Bolt and Cap :

Screws :

Plywood : You will probably need a full sheet depending on the size of your Pikler Triangle

Rods : The amount will vary depending on how high your triangle will be and your spacing between each rod. I used 1-1/8" diameter rods.

Step 1: Breaking Down the Plywood Sheet

First, break down the 3/4" plywood sheetings into roughly the size you want for your rails. In my build, my rails were 5" wide, though I think 4" is a sweet spot. I used a crosscut sled to cut the rails down to the right lengths. Once the lengths were cut to the right size, I went ahead and trim down the excess width to exactly 5".

To cut the parts for the triangle, I roughly cut a square that was 18"x18". Later, I'll trim this down to the right size.

Step 2: Making the Hole Template

The hole template is made to ensure that the holes for the rods will be drilled in the exact location on each of the rails. The spacing of my holes were 6" on center. This can vary based on your preference. I don't recommend anything greater than 6" as it might be harder for kids to reach and climb up the triangle.

I cut a sheet of 1/4" plywood into the same size as my longest rail. From there, I marked the center of the template and then marked a line every 6". Once I finished all my layout lines, I went to the drill press and used a forstner bit that matched the diameter of my rods; in this case 1-1/8". I'll drill out a hole using the drill press at every 6" center mark.

If you don't have access to a drill press, you can use a power drill with a forstner bit.

Step 3: Making the Holes on the Rails

One the template has been complete, I taped the template onto the longest rail first. With the template secured onto my rail, I went back to the drill press and aligned the hole on my template with the forstner bit. Once the bit was aligned and I was able to confirm that the bit was centered on the template hole, I drilled down into the plywood rail going halfway into the wood. I continued this for all the holes and for all the rails.

Keep in mine with the shorter rail, the template will stick out longer than needed. You can ignore any holes that stick pass the shorter rail.

Step 4: Creating the Round Ends

With all the holes drilled on the rails, I added a rounded end to each of the rails. To do this, I used a round object that had a diameter that was equal to the width of my rails. In this case, it was 5" so I used a 5" hole saw to create a template where I could trace the arc at the ends. I didn't have a compass on hand, but if you do that would be way easier.

Once the arcs were marked, I used my bandsaw to trim away the material and then sanded it down on my belt sander.

Step 5: Making the Triangle Brace

The triangle brace is made with the 18"x18" piece of plywood that was previously cut in step 1. You will need a way to create a 60-degree angle at each corner. If you have a 30-60-90 triangle, you can use that. I used my miter gauge which acted as a protractor so I could get these angles cut on my table saw.

Once the triangles were made, I used the same circle template to round each of the corners at the bandsaw.

Step 6: Applying the Finish and Securing the Triangle Brace

I'm using a hemp oil finish, which is very safe for children's toys. I highly recommend it! I added one coat to the entire plywood surfaces and then I secured the triangle brace to the longer rails. The longer rails are stationary and will not pivot. I added some glue and screwed them into place. Leave the short rail to the side as we will secure those later.

Step 7: Painting and Installing the Rods

For paint, I used milk paint which is a very safe paint for kid's toys. It comes in a powder form and is mixed together with water. I apply 2 coats of paint to the rods or until the bare wood is no longer visible. If you aren't using paint, then I suggest sealing the bare wood with the hemp oil.

Once the paint dries, I trimmed the rods down to the right length. Again, the length can vary based on how wide you want to make your triangle. Consider the fact that the wider you make the triangle, the thicker your rods should be. This is because of deflection that can occur when weight is added to the rod. Thinner rods will bend more under pressure at longer lengths compared to thicker rods at the same length. The rods I used were 1-1/8" in diameter.

With the rods cut to size, I went ahead and glued them to the rails. I used Tite Bond 3, which is a wood glue that is easily cleaned up with a wet rag if you do have any excess glue on the surface.

Step 8: Creating the Pivot Point and Installing the Locking Knob

This portion is critical since it will affect the folding operation of the triangle. Follow the template that was included in the set of free plans and you should be ok. I didn't have a template so it was a little more difficult for me.

Now that the rods are dried, I took the short rail section with the rods already installed and clamped it to the triangle brace at the fully opened position. It should look like the triangle is ready to be used. With both sides clamped to the brace. I screwed a screw into the brace marking where the pivot point is located on both sides. Then I removed the screw and used a drill bit to drill through the marked hole for the connecting bolt and cap. The cap will be located on the inside portion of the rail, while the connecting bolt will be threaded through the exterior face of the triangle brace and then into the connecting cap. Do this for both sides. If the bolts were located in the correct place, the triangle should fold with little to no resistance.

Once you ensure that the triangle folds, open the triangle again and predrill a location for the locking knob through the triangle brace and into the short rail. If you're using the template then it should be marked for you. You only need one locking knob. Then I removed the connecting bolt so that the rails can be taken apart. I took the shorter rail and located my predrill location. Next, I drilled a larger hole that is slightly smaller than the threaded insert. You don't want to drill this hole too big or your threaded inserts will strip out. I used the same drill bit to create a larger hole in the predrilled location on the triangle brace as well. Once the threaded inserts were in place on both sides, I secure the shorter rail back into the triangle brace with my connecting bolt.

I finally aligned my threaded insert with the hole I made on the triangle brace and secured in my knob.

Step 9: Enjoy the Memories

Now that the triangle is complete, enjoy the memories you'll make with your child on your new pikler triangle!