I’ve found it’s hard to do woodworking in the winter. My shop is a tiny shed outside, which can fit all my tools but doesn’t have the space for assembly. When the weather is nice, I like to work in the yard, setting up sawhorses to create a makeshift work surface. But at the end of last month, we got over 2 feet of snow, which made it quite difficult to get out to the workshop at all!
I was itching to build something, but knew it had to be a quick build, able to complete in a single day, as well as something I could assemble and finish inside the house. We had been looking for a step stool for my daughter to use while my wife is cooking, so I figured a kitchen helper stand would be a perfect single-day build.
I found Ana White’s plans for a helper tower and thought it would be a good starting point. It features safety rails, a ladder to climb up, and an adjustable platform so the tower grows with your child. After talking to my wife, we decided to make the helper stand collapsable, for easy storage. Ana’s plans include a foldable option, so we followed the plans pretty closely.
A week earlier, I had rescued some pine trim from my mother’s house. It was painted on three sides, but otherwise was in good condition. By using this scrap lumber, the only purchase I made for this project were the hinges.
I shoveled out to my workshop, set up my miter saw, and cut out the wood to the right sizes. Most of my measurements were the same as Ana’s plans, though I did tweak them a little to fit my kitchen’s countertops. I cut the arches out of a 1×12 with a jig saw.
Once I had the pieces cut to size, I had to remove the paint from the surfaces. This took quite a bit longer than I anticipated, but it did mean I got to use my new belt/disc sander I picked up from Harbor Freight. This little beast took every piece of wood I threw at it admirably.
For the permanent connections, I drilled pocket holes into the wood. It took a few adjustments to make sure the holes were the right depth in this thin wood so it wouldn’t split.
After drilling the pocket holes, I took everything inside for assembly and finishing. I used Kreg screws to connect the sides together. This took a bit of patience — along with plenty of glue — to make sure I didn’t split the wood when I screwed them together.
I then took it upstairs for a dry fit and to see how it would look in the kitchen. I was happy with the size and appearance of the project so far, so I kept going.
In anticipation of this project, I had ordered 2 packs of 2″ hinges from Amazon. This is definitely the way to go if you need a bunch of hinges for cheap. But be prepared: this pack didn’t come with any screws.
I assembled all the sides together, using alternating hinges for each corner of the stand. This image from Ana’s site explains how to do this properly. I found it helped to clamp the sub-assemblies together while I attached the hinges.
Over the next few days, my wife painted the helper stand with some leftover paint from my daughter’s room. I still plan to install anti-tipping boards at the base of the stand, but I wanted to see how it was used first.
Ultimately, this project was a success. It got me out of the house and into the shop in the middle of the winter; it helped me think through ways I can assemble and finish in our basement; plus it gave me a sense of accomplishment since I built everything in one day.