The Littlest Helper Tower

Submitted by Ana White on Wed, 06/12/2019 - 14:34
Difficulty
Intermediate
| Print this plan

Build your own toddler step stool and bring your child to counter height. Features adjustable height platform, removable tip resistant kit, and optional fold flat modification.

blue little helper tower in white kitchen

Reader submitted photo by Ginger and the Huth

Dimensions
dimensions diagram for little helper tower
Dimensions are shown above. Heights of rungs are adjustable platform heights. Platform measures 15″ x 18″. You can add additional guards to fit the special needs of your individual child. For an older child you could remove the tip resistant kit for a more compact profile.

Preparation

Shopping List

1 – 1×8, 8 feet long

4 – 1×2, 8 feet long

1 – 1×3, 8 feet long

Cut List

4 – 1×2 @ 38″ (Legs)

8 – 1×2 @ 15″ (Ladder rungs)

1 – 1×8 @ 15″ (Arches) OR 2 - 1x3 @ 15" (Substitute for arches)

2 – 1×8 @ 16 1/2″ (Front and Back Sides)

2 – 1×8 @ 18″ (Platform)

2 – 1×2 @ 15″ (Platform Supports)

2 – 1×2 @ 16 1/2″ (Bottom Supports)

2 – 1×3 @ 16 1/2″ (Top Supports)

2 – 1×3 @ 24″ (Tip Resistors)

4 – 1×3 @ 3″ (Tip Resistors)

Tools
Tape Measure
Speed Square
Pencil
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Drill
Circular Saw
Jigsaw
Power Sander
Level
Drill Bit Set

Instructions

Step 1

Cut Arches From the 1×8 that is 15″ long, cut arches as shown in diagram with a jigsaw.  Adjust so you can get both arches on the 1x8.

NOTE: Some people just opt for straight boards across as done in this reader submitted photo. 

simple little helper tower modification

You can substitute for 1x3 instead.  This will simplify the building process.

Step 2

Ladder Rungs
 

Measure and mark legs for ladder rung positions. Drill 3/4" pocket holes and apply glue to ends of ladder rungs. Attach with 1-1/4" pocket hole screws.

Build two identical.

Step 3

Assembly

Mark the location of the end pieces and predrill holes. Apply glue and screw in place with pocket hole screws. Adjust for square. You can add additional rails to the front and back as you see fit, but keep the sides open so your youngster can crawl in and out of the helping tower.

Step 4

Platform

Next, build your platform by marking the 1x8s that are 18″ long 1″ from the outsides. Attach with glue and 1 1/4″ screws the platform supports. These platform supports not only join the 1x8s, but they also keep the platform in place inside the helping tower.

Step 5

Step 6

Tip Resistant Foot

Round the corners on the tip resistors as shown above. Screw together. You can optionally exclude the smaller tip resistors, as side to side tipping is less likely than backward tipping. You know your child better than anyone. Build to suit your child’s needs

Step 7

Attach Tip Resistant Footer

Simply screw the tip resistant footer to the legs as shown above.

Step 8

Folding Mod

By placing hinges instead of screwing the front and back pieces to the side pieces, you can make the Little Helper Tower fold easily. Just make sure you use plenty of strong hinges, make the platform fit very tight (adjust the inset on the ends to 3/4″ instead of 1″ in step 4, and regularly check to make sure your hinges are not loose. I personally prefer simplicity, and any time you add hinges, it increases the complexity. But for those of you who require storage for the Little Helper Tower (would slide under a bed easily) this mod if done with care can be the solution.

Step 9

Comments

Kerrie (not verified)

Wed, 01/05/2011 - 13:04

Saa-weeet! I love that you made it fold flat! Now we can throw it in the laundry room when we're not using it!

My to-do list on your site is so long! The other day I noticed you changed your website and all my plans that I saved were gone. So I went through your catalog again and now I think my list is longer! LOL!

Thanks for the awesome work!

Al Benton (not verified)

Wed, 01/05/2011 - 14:43

The 24" wide tower was a snap to build. Used pocket holes and glue.

Now I'm building a second one with hinges that folds and stores. I plan to offset the top support upward about 1/2" to avoid a possible pinch hazard where it and the arched sides come together. With hinges, it's going to wiggle some. If they are at the same height I see potential of it pinching. Raising the board a little should keep a little arm from getting pinched in there. I'll round off the edges.

ramona (not verified)

Thu, 01/06/2011 - 08:40

It might be a good idea to put felt on the bottom to make it easier to push and keep floors, especially hardwood, from being scratched.

Cindy (not verified)

Thu, 01/06/2011 - 09:55

Nice! If only I have a saw... :D Maybe I'll ask a friend to help me out on it.

One question though: when the platform is on a lower rug, how does the child get inside? From the topmost rug to the bottommost setting, it's almost 12" to jump down into. And I can totally imagine older children *will* jump into it.

Al Benton (not verified)

Thu, 01/06/2011 - 11:02

Cindy, I tip the scale at 185. Before I sent the tower home with the twins I stood in it. Although I didn't jump up and down I did exert extra force by flexing my knees a little. It's strong enough for a 35 or 40 pound 4 or 5 year-old to hop into with no fear of breaking it. Mine is glued and pocket screwed so it has very strong joints but if the cross members that support the platform are not skimped on, it should hold up to a bouncing youngster.

nIGHTINGALE tAMAR (not verified)

Thu, 01/06/2011 - 12:11

Thank you so much! I've seen these in catalogs for a couple hundred dollars, but I always thought "well, that'd be great until you had noplace to put it away. It's expensive and a space hog..." Your folding mod is brilliant. My hsband is going to have a busy weekend, and a VERY happy group of kids later on.

Cindy (not verified)

Thu, 01/06/2011 - 12:56

I didn't mean tipping; I meant how the heck does the child get in and out of it. I guess it doesn't matter when the child is already climbing over the initial 19" from the outside.

Sarah M (not verified)

Thu, 01/06/2011 - 13:26

OH MY GOSH You're a genius!!!!!!!!!!
I have wanted one of these for YEARS for my kids, and I just couldn't get around the price tag, and the fact that you made it foldable? Yeah...I had to shout that one (to my hubby) to the other side of the house! He came in to check it out and said "yeah, good design, I could easily make that " (he's the framer/carpenter in the household:)

Thank you. Thank you. Thank yoU!!
PS Saw you on the Living Crafts blog.

Sarah M

Jessica (not verified)

Thu, 01/06/2011 - 14:41

For my birthday I'm asking for a $20 Lowe's gift card and a whole Saturday afternoon to myself. Best. Gift. Ever.

Awesome project. Awesome website.

Jenny in CG (not verified)

Thu, 01/06/2011 - 17:52

At first glance, I could see how you would think so, Chris. That is what I thought, too.

However, my good friend has had an expensive one (she paid over $140 for hers in Germany) for about 8 years with 4 kids. They are in her kitchen all the time, helping with every meal and project. She claims they have never had an accident of any kind with it.

I wish I had had one for my kids but they are all practically giants now :) :(

Cathy Helmert (not verified)

Fri, 01/07/2011 - 03:47

This looks like it would be great at my house! I know that I can get Home Depot to make my straight cuts, but what type of saw do you use to make the cuts for the curves?

TexasJuju (not verified)

Fri, 01/07/2011 - 09:09

I'm going to try to incorporate your easel / chalkboard onto this plan. I saw something like this as an add-on to a Tower I saw on mystepstool.com.

CT-Dave (not verified)

Fri, 01/07/2011 - 13:54

This is the third project I have tackled from your brilliant ideas. I do have a question on this one though. I was just wondering if the 1x2s on the purchase list are supposed to be 10 foot, or are they suppose to be a quantity of 4? From the cut list I come up about 4 feet short on 1x2s.

Al Benton (not verified)

Fri, 01/07/2011 - 16:42

It's true, the cut list requires 335" of 2" wide boards and 3) 96" boards is only 288". I purchased 1x8's and ripped everything on the table saw but used more than I expected.

Steve B (not verified)

Sat, 01/08/2011 - 09:37

If you are making a fixed platform, suggest using dowels instead of screws. This will make the joints almost as strong as a mortise and tenon and is a lot less work. The dowels do not loosen up as easily as screws and the finished product can be clear coated or stained instead of painting.

Tamra (not verified)

Mon, 01/10/2011 - 00:03

Hello, I will be a complete beginner coming in February when we move! I am excited but confused. I see when you do plans there is a shopping list and a cutting list. If I am just getting home Depot to cut for me do I just give them the cutting list? My point I guess is there is wood on both lists! LOL I assume it's because most people buy the wood then cut themselves? Thanks fro any help on this subject, anyone!

PapaJohn (not verified)

Thu, 01/13/2011 - 18:05

Bought wood at Lowe's for two towers with the tip resistant feet. Cut, sanded and and assembled the first one. Took longer than I thought but I sanded quite a bit to make the wood very smooth. Counter sunk and filled the screw holes with stainable, paintable putty. Final sanding, primer and paint tomorrow. The platform feels very sturdy and solid. The adjustable platform works very well. My daughter and my grandson will love it.
Thanks Ana, for clear and easy to follow plans. Hint - buy better quality wood to sand less. Great project!

Bethany (not verified)

Tue, 01/18/2011 - 18:44

My husband made this!!! And our 18 month old calls it his, "UP!". Its a great addition to our house. I love that this is foldable, whereas the original isn't.

I painted it a tasteful aqua color since it will be in our kitchen for so much of the time and I needed to enjoy looking at it, too.

My husband altered two of the panels to have an arch, similar to the opposing sides' top arches, and its really sharp.

I mentioned your site specifically in my blog post. So SO SO happy with this project! http://thefabulousmrshaid.blogspot.com/2011/01/helping-tower-for-my-hel…

Norm (not verified)

Tue, 08/28/2012 - 07:35

Please let me know if your hinges are inset into the wood or just on the outer surface. Also how did they hold up after heavy use. Hope to hear soon as I am ready to join panels.

Geoffrey McCorkle (not verified)

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 17:17

Good job Ana. I bought he lumber, cut them on my compound miter saw, started clamping, drilling and screwing all the pieces together. Took about 4 hours. My daughter absolutely loves it. Next week I'll be puttying, sanding, primering and painting. Going with Pottery Barn white and will be painting our daughters name and soon-to-arrive son's name on them.

Now if I can just teach her how to do dishes ;)

darcy (not verified)

Thu, 01/27/2011 - 13:28

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the plans!!! I had been wishin over the Learning Tower for a while, even tried to win one. And it was just too much out of our budget. So after I ran across your post, I figured it wouldn't hurt to send it to my dad (who happens to be a woods craftsman) to see if he'd do it. Well, when my parents came to visit last weekend, he surprised us all with one! I love how it can fold out of the way when needed and I might just make a puppet show curtain for it, too. He added anti-slip material on the platform and on the bottom of the feet. The girls love it!

http://i233.photobucket.com/albums/ee86/designz_scm/Random/DSC02762-tow…

http://i233.photobucket.com/albums/ee86/designz_scm/Random/DSC02764-tow…

darcy (not verified)

Thu, 01/27/2011 - 13:30

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the plans!!! I had been wishin over the Learning Tower for a while, even tried to win one. And it was just too much out of our budget. So after I ran across your post, I figured it wouldn't hurt to send it to my dad (who happens to be a woods craftsman) to see if he'd do it. Well, when my parents came to visit last weekend, he surprised us all with one! I love how it can fold out of the way when needed and I might just make a puppet show curtain for it, too. He added anti-slip material on the platform and on the bottom of the feet. And he lowered one bar (on the front) so they wouldn't have to lean over it. The girls love it!

http://i233.photobucket.com/albums/ee86/designz_scm/Random/DSC02762-tow…

http://i233.photobucket.com/albums/ee86/designz_scm/Random/DSC02764-tow…

Holly (not verified)

Thu, 01/27/2011 - 15:14

I love your site Ana. I have been checking it out since I found it a couple months ago. When I saw this project marked as "beginner," I called my dad to see if I could use his tools to get started on this one as my VERY FIRST wood working project EVER.

I'm squeezing it in between a toddler and newborn baby and trips to my dad's house to make it....but I have to say, it's much harder than I thought it would be originally. Thank goodness my dad has a lot of experience in the construction industry and is able to help coach me on a lot of things I had no idea about.

I have only gotten the cuts done, but am starting on sanding. Thought I would mention it for other "beginners" they may want to sand the sharp edges on it.

jessica (not verified)

Mon, 01/31/2011 - 09:23

Ana,
you have no idea how excited I am that I was directed to your site. When I saw this I was IMing a friend, and by what I said and how I said it (all caps) she thought my water had broken. :)
I am completely oblivious when it comes to tools and building things, and I will honestly say I have not read through all of your comments to see if it's already been asked, but can you tell me what tools I will need to make this?

Thank you for your time, knowledge and passion. I'm so thrilled.

brad (not verified)

Sun, 02/20/2011 - 17:18

hi there, this was my first ever building project, as my wife wanted one for our little girl, so i bought all the gear (though in australia our wood sizes are different to what you suggested, plus i struggle with inches, i work much better in metric!) so i had to change the plan a bit, not my forte, as i am terrible at maths, and got started, got all the equipment for about $45, and took it all to work, as night shift is often a time for getting creative.
it is completely built now, just finishing painting it, and although without a vice or a lot of the proper tools, it isn't quite square, but i cut some bits longer to accomodate it. and i am soo happy with it, and so is my wife, i really impressed myself with this one. so thanks very much, please keep up the good work.
now to find another project.....

MeganS (not verified)

Sun, 01/20/2013 - 20:58

Hi Brad,

Are you able to share what size wood you used? I'm in Australia as well and I'm having trouble figuring out what size wood to use (I'm Canadian and didn't realise there was such a difference with wood sizes down here!).
I'd really appreciate any advice you have!
Thanks!

Holly (not verified)

Thu, 03/10/2011 - 20:09

Finished! Well, almost. I need another coat of paint, but couldn't wait to let the kids use it and take pics. My 2 year old is so in LOVE with it. He climbs all over it, plays with his toys in it, and even wants to watch TV in it. He helped me make pancakes and muffins in it so far. He's also sharing it with his 6 month old sister - amazing that he would share anything!

This project may be for a "beginner" who has a clue about woodworking, but since I did not have a single clue...I am very lucky my dad was able to mentor me through this. It was much harder than I would have been able to tackle on my own. He had all the tools, tricks, and knowledge that is not inherent in the plans.

My total cost was about $6 because my dad had all materials on hand and we used scrap wood from an old trellis. We slightly modified plans since our wood was .5 inch smaller and we doubled up on screws to make it extra secure (I'm so glad we did because my son climbs and swings from it like a monkey)

Seems like the blue green is popular - it's the paint my dad had lying around too!https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/7l1IILkyUZyhiizhP93rLWuAOYGWin4qC…https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/f14C-1Osr8r6JHX-Z8FucWuAOYGWin4qC…https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/ZY2VMikXUMdLNENu3dXOk2uAOYGWin4qC…https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/WQ3wmQellQXS3cswpeU3JWuAOYGWin4qC…https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/lcl5hxYfDwDC0hrwCCCBlWuAOYGWin4qC…

Phillip Moore (not verified)

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 08:31

I built this, but made a few modifications. I made each side its own complete panel, and attached these panels together with hinges. It seemed sturdier this way. Also, I lowered the rail on one side giving it a definite 'front' that matches our counter height. Also eased all the edges with 1/8" round over bit to make it feel nicer for my daughter.

Keri

Wed, 04/06/2011 - 20:52

I really love this plan.  I made two of them, a stationary one for my 2 yr old and a folding one for my cousin's 3 yr old.  I definitely like the stationary one better.  I was having issues locating the jig saw, so I finally gave up and modified the plan.  For the tip resisters I just cut a 45 degree chunk off  the ends.  I still wanted an arch of sorts so that they had the extra head room while climbing in, so I used 1x2.  For each side, I used three pieces, two angling up and one to bridge them.  That left points from the diagonal cut sticking out, so I just cut those flush with the small bridging piece.  I  liked this, and if I had planned it from the beginning I could have saved myself the cost of some 1x8.  Now I'm planning a step stool or two =0).

I finished my son's with a Minwax wipe on stain/poly in bright green, which I like a lot but took a lot longer to wipe on than I'd expected.  Also, next time I'll let the pocket holes show and skip the fill if I'm not painting it - maybe even if I am.  I used a smooth foam roller to roll on some shell pink oops paint onto my niece's before I attached the hinges.  I used some pretty cabinet hinges for the wide boards, but had to buy utility hinges to fit the other.  The utility hinges came with much better screws and are sturdier, so I'll only use those next time.

Also, next time I will use 1x3 for the frames if I'm going to hinge them.  A little more expensive, but I can be sure that the edges of the hinges don't show.

guamgirl73

Fri, 04/08/2011 - 17:28

This is by far the best project I've ever built! I was looking to purchase one of these commercially, but no company would ship to Guam- Thank goodness! I saved a ton of money, and it was a really fun, simple build! Thank you Ana! Its not quite done, my toddler won't get off of it long enough for me to paint it- but its wonderful just the same!

Guest (not verified)

Fri, 05/06/2011 - 11:07

Wondering if I can convert this to be a snazzy potty step stool. Our potty is too high off the floor for my two year old to go without help. It would be wonderful to have this minus two sides to give her the assistance to get on the potty and have a rail to hold on to. Hmmmmm *wheels spinning* ! Thoughts?!?!

Kat (not verified)

Thu, 08/18/2011 - 21:19

I have the Learning Tower for my 4 year old. We've had it for about 2 years. My husband initially was very upset I spent so much money on it, but within three days told me it was one of my best purchases! We literally use it constantly--in the kitchen she helps us cook, make playdough, wash dishes, anything at the counter. SO I'm excited to see these plans! I'd say the only drawbacks to the original Learning Tower are the price tag and the fact that you can't fold it up and its not the easiest thing to move from place to place (counter to sink, etc.). You have solved all of these issues with your plans! I am SOOOO making one (or more--gifts for nephews?)! Thank you!

In reply to by Guest Jess (not verified)

loniwolfe

Tue, 12/06/2011 - 21:24

Any type would be fine. Alot of us use the least expensive boards we can get (white wood or pine). But you could buy nicer boards, like cedar, if you planned on staining, not painting. I always buy the pine boards to save money and everything I've built is super sturdy. I built the chesapeake outdoor coffee table and my 350lb dad uses it as a bench. lol.

Angela Williams (not verified)

Tue, 12/27/2011 - 21:57

OMG... can I buy this from someone?! There's no way I can build it, but my 4 year old would LOVE it!

Laren (not verified)

Mon, 01/16/2012 - 16:11

Thanks for sharing these plans. I have been looking at one of these for my daughter for months. When I told my dad about it he found your plans and built one for my daughter with mostly scrap wood he had around. It is wonderful...my daughter was instantly more independant since she couldn't get up and down from chairs yet. She has achondroplasia dwarfism and the small steps on this allowed her to be able to climb it easily and also get down on her own too. Yay! THANKS!!!

Mama Sorenson

Fri, 01/20/2012 - 03:22

We built two towers - one for my son and one for his best gal pal. They are both two years old. They fold beautifully and the kids love them. Our son loves helping us cook, especially pancakes and cookies. He calls his tower a castle. His best friend loves her tower, and uses it primarily as a stage.

We followed Phillip Moore's modifications and created four separate panels. It feels very sturdy and it seems like there is less stress on the hinges than there might be if the ladder sides were just hinged to the horizontal panels. We didn't feel like getting the router involved, so just softened the edges with sandpaper. A router would have been faster, probably (but we live in a San Francisco flat and are working out of our shared garage - our router is probably the loudest cutting tool we've got!). We should have lowered one side to standard counter height, but forgot. We painted our project, which took a lot longer than if I'd have done a simple stain, but it looks nice.

Anyway, thanks for the awesome plans. Thanks, Phillip, for your modifications, too.

singingsister

Tue, 01/24/2012 - 02:00

My husband wants to build this but the wood sizing is all wrong for the UK and we are struggling to convert it!

JoshuaB (not verified)

Sun, 01/29/2012 - 15:49

When I went to make this project, I didn't like the look of the 1x2's in the hardware store, so I ended up just buying some 1x8's and rip cutting the narrower pieces out of them on a table saw. If you have one-by lumber where you are, and access to a table saw, you could cut pieces to match Ana's dimensions.

Do remember that dimensional lumber is smaller than its nominal size. A one-by board is actually 3/4" thick, and 1/2" smaller in its width than the given size. So a 1x2 is actually 3/4" thick and 1 1/2" wide.

If you don't have access to one-by lumber, then I'm afraid you've got your work cut out for you.

Guest (not verified)

Mon, 03/12/2012 - 18:06

This is my first project I've ever done with my husband. Can someone please explain step by step how to make the curves for the sides? Thanks

Caitlyn (not verified)

Fri, 05/04/2012 - 18:17

My husband built this and I was so excited to use it (as was my daughter), but after using it a few times successfully we had an accident. My daughter crouched down to pick up something she dropped on the platform, lost her balance and fell right out of the tower, hard onto the back of her head. It was on the highest setting so it was a high fall. I have been afraid to use it ever since. Think I will wait until she is tall enough for the lower settings, where she cannot easily fall off and if she does it isn't as high. On the highest setting, if the child crouches below the top bars, they can easily fall out the side.

Norm (not verified)

Sun, 08/26/2012 - 09:53

Should 1 or 2 screws be used to secure each end of the ladder rungs? Thanks.

Kayelee (not verified)

Fri, 09/21/2012 - 07:16

Fyi the cut list needs fixed. For the arches it only says you need one but you need two. For all of you that don't have the tools to cut the wood I took my cut list to home depot and they cut the wood for free! They can't do the curved arches though I just did mine straight across. Thanks my son loves it!

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