Sturdy child’s furniture

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    Frank Olinde

    My sister in law has asked me to make a table and 2 chairs for her grandchildren who will soon be entering elementary school. She said that she wants it to be sturdy. My first though was mortise and tenon, but children can be tough on furniture. This sounds rough, but I was thinking I’d make a square dovetailed frame (aprons) and then use cut nails to attach the legs and back that up with angled wooden braces in the corners. Do you think that will survive?

    My second question is about sizing the pieces. I’ve found online resources for table and seat height by age, but what age? I could make the pieces appropriate for say 8 year olds. The furniture would be a little big for a while, just right for around 2 weeks, and then too small, but maybe there will be more grandchildren. What do you think?



    Keith Collet

    Hi Frank
    I recently made table and two stools for my granddaughters aged 6 and 8. Table frame was made with top grade Scandinavian pine. Haunched mortise and tenon joints to legs for top rails with mortised and tenon lower rails to give added stability. Top was screwed to base through wooden braces you mention. legs were 11/2 ins square and with M&T joins will take anything the kids will throw at it. I made stools from same pine per Paul’s bench stool project, scaled down ,but with circular seats.
    Re size the table measures 600mm by 1200mm and kids sit at each end giving them their own work area.of 600×600. They love it .
    Sizing was bit of guess work. I went for a very slightly lower than a standard dining table height which the children can sit at fine albeit the younger one has a cushion. The end result is it works for the kids and adults can sit comfortably at it as well.
    Hope this might help. Pic attached.
    Happy woodworking.



    Frank Olinde

    Thanks Keith! Your project looks great. The lower rails on the table no doubt keep it sturdy, and I hadn’t thought of stools, but they are a very practical solution.



    I have thought on this same issue myself. An adjustable height table that could grow with kids.

    Trying to describe it …
    Create a tabletop with legs, say 2″x2″. These would not be decorative, as they would really be pistons.
    Create 4 leg surrounds (decorative?) that would tightly slide over the tabletop pistons. They could be attached to each other by stretchers to improve their sturdiness.
    The surrounds would have pegged holes at appropriate heights to allow the tabletop pistons to sit on. As the child grows, the pegs could be moved up to raise the table height.

    A table with 24″ surrounds could probably be raised to 42″ before becoming wobbly due to lack of support. I think typical adult table height is about 30″. You’d need to factor in the extra height for the tabletop thickness.

    The surrounds could only be as tall as the table’s lowest setting.
    The table could only be raised less than 2x the height of the surrounds.

    I may be a bit off in my measurements, as I haven’t thought the concept fully through.

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