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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Perth
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    Default Kids Craft bench

    Even though the end product will be used mainly for kids drawing and craftwork, I'm putting this in the Workbench Forum as the nature of the construction perhaps lends itself more to a workbench than a desk or a table.

    The bench is for my 6 year old Grandson who has some aspects of Autism and is currently obsessed with drawing. However, his obsessions change and I expect it will also be used for craftwork, LEGO and who knows what else.

    His parents wanted something that could also be adjustable in height and also be able to be put away in storage. I though of some sort of folding arrangement but this design is very sturdy and it will comes apart very easily with just one hex key and a screw driver. The basic shape is borrowed from an IKEA desk design which I encouraged the parents to purchase, but IKEA have none in stock.

    It all started out with milling some Norfolk Island Pine (NIP) logs back in January.
    I needed about 14 linear m, so I milled 28m, of 2.4m long, 85x28mm and 85 x 32mm, and cut one 400 x 25mm board to make the top.
    Logs1.jpg NIPmilling2.jpg NIPmilling5.jpg

    NIP is pretty ordinary timber. It cuts easily but is full of knots and about 1/3rd of the milled timber warped and bowed during the drying stage.
    I knew this would occur which is why I milled 28m worth of timber. I got the log for nothing so volume is not an issue.

    The frame is to be bolted together using M8 stainless Steel (SS) round-head Hex socket screws, and the challenging and time consuming bit was to make the 16 SS barrel nuts.
    I wanted a chunkier look than the standard (usually M6) barrel nuts so I decided to use 20mm stainless steel rod and machine these myself.
    The holes and threads in the nuts were cut in a MW lathe using a 4 jaw chuck held as per picture below,
    Barrelnuts.jpg 4jawarrangement.jpg
    This took WAAAAAAY longer than I thought it would, although I could probably make the next 16 in about half the time.

    After cutting the nut blanks using a MW bandsaw and facing each end off in the lathe, I had to do the following for each barrel nut
    1) centre bit
    2) 6.8mm bit
    3) countersink
    4) M8 taper tap
    5) M8 bottoming tap
    - flip workpiece
    6) counter sink
    7) M8 bottoming tap to clear ridges left by CS bit.
    I have a 6 position turret head for the tailstock but no chucks to suit the 5/8" turret sockets - I'm working on that.

    This shows a mock up for holding the stretchers to the legs.
    Pullthru.jpg

    The pieces for the frame were cut with a SCMS, using 6ļ angled cuts
    Recess bolt holes were drilled with =19mm Forstner - the barrel nut holes with a 20mm Forstner.
    The bolts are M8 but I used 9mm holes to allow for some ease of alignment.
    Provided the holes are accurately drilled the frame goes together like LEGO.
    Drilling the long angled holes though the legs was done by tilting the table on the DP by 6ļ as measured by a digital angle finder
    Partframe.jpg Frame.jpg
    Dimensions are 1200mm long, ~750mm wide, and height will be adjustable between 550 and 850mm

    Here I've just thrown the 2 boards I'm going to use to make the top to show what it will look like.
    Those 25mm thick boards will each be ripped in half, thicknessed, jointed and then joined to make the top
    Top will be held on with Z clips.
    Topmockup.jpg

    Currently I working on the extendable legs and I must like working with SS as I have decided to use M8 SS hex socket screws and make the leg locking nuts out of the same SS rod as the barrel nuts.
    These nuts will be 10mm discs with slots across the ends a bit like you see on saw handles

    So lots more to do but I thought you like to see how its going so far.
    Last edited by BobL; 25th May 2022 at 11:00 PM.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Perth
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    Default

    Simple Extendable legs
    compframe.jpg

    The legs are held on with the same 50mm SS M8 round hex head screws as used for the frame. Initially I used plain M8 SS must and a washer as per the green arrow but decided they looked ordinary against the chunkier barrel nuts so I turned top some round slotted head nuts from teh same 20mm diam SS rod as used on teh barrel nuts.
    There's only 8 of these (CF 16 barrel nuts) but it still took me a while because I milled the slots on the metal mill.
    ROUNDSLOTTEDNUTS2.jpg

    One minor stuff up happened on the rear legs where there is a stretcher that gets in the way of the holes.
    Just needs the round slotted nuts put into the holes before the stretcher bolts are tightened.
    The round slotted nuts can stay there when the leaks are adjusted for height,
    There's not even a need for a screwdriver to hold the nuts as just finger pressure is enough to prevent the nuts from rotating while the bolts are

    done up
    ROUNDSLOTTEDNUTS1.jpg

    Now teh top!

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Hobart
    Posts
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    Default

    Nicely conceptualised and executed, Bob. Elegantly simple and effective.

    One question: The height adjustments seem to be on ~100mm centres - this is a big jump as kids grow. Did you consider 50mm spacing?

  5. #4
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    Feb 2006
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    Perth
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    Quote Originally Posted by GraemeCook View Post
    Nicely conceptualised and executed, Bob. Elegantly simple and effective.

    One question: The height adjustments seem to be on ~100mm centres - this is a big jump as kids grow. Did you consider 50mm spacing?
    Yes 100mm is a big jump but that's what his dad wanted - It would be really enough to drill a few more holes if needed. The grandson works at a full height table now so I suspect it will just be set at close to full height.

    I finally finished the desk today.
    I put the 4 , 180 x 25 boards for the top thru the thicknesser and out popped bits and pieces from most of the knots (remind me not to work with this timber every again).
    Then I spent over a week filling the knot holes - took 4 ever.
    Asstop.jpg

    Finally had all the pieces done but decided to apply the finish (just wipe on poly) with it all apart - otherwise it might stick together and get poly all over the nice shiny SS fittings.
    finishing.jpg

    Because the specification was that it had to be able to be collapsed for storage I just fixed the top to the frame using some home made 316 SS Z-clips.
    zclips.jpg

    And here it, is minus the adjustable height legs.
    The raised sides and back were also a specification as autistic grandson can go a bit wobbly when stuff falls off his current work table.
    omplete.jpg

    From milling the timber to final product was about 5 months.
    The tree had been down for several years but that doesn't really counts it was still quite wet when it was milled.
    The timber was dried in my (hot) shed for most of Jan - all of Feb and March and about half of April which is when I started on the frame and turning the barrel nuts..
    Once I got going it took me about a month, not too bad I suppose.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    4,978

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    LOVE those monster barrel nuts.

    I've been thinking of several ways to join my bench, but the commercial offerings are sad, stingy and small.

    These, however, are MEATY and have HEFT.

    Super nice!

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Perth
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    Thanks WP.
    The decision to go for such large fixings was mainly because Norfolk Island Pine is a relatively weak timber so I thought spreading the mechanical loads would aid strength.
    However once I decided to go BIG I thought I might as well really go big.
    Initially I was looking at using 16mm or 18 mm diameter rod so I made a few prototypes in plain steel but they didnít really do it for me so thatís why I went for 20 mm Rod.
    Thereís about $70 worth of 316 SS (bolts/screws-$45, and $25 worth rod) in that bench, but god knows how much time was involved. I was certainly working for <$5/hr!

  8. #7
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    Feb 2016
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    Canberra
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    Putting the Ikea table on backorder may have been an option

    As a well-whinged aside, it really shows how cheap products from overseas are. My Loving Daughter has a 9 week old bub and she wished me to make a gym-like thing that was from kmart. I looked at the material alone and thought nope! The price was unbelievably cheap. No doubt its made to a price, but I was hardly going to spend a day or three making something only to save a few dollars.

    I love the bench though. Those mighty nuggets of nuts are VERY nice

  9. #8
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    Feb 2006
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    Perth
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    We took the bench over to my Grandson this morning. Parents like it - Whew!

    My grandson was watching Mario Bros so intently on the TV he didn't see us bringing it into the house.
    Then my son showed him the desk but he was not that interested and went back to the TV.

    30 minutes later he had moved in and (as one might expect from some autistic kids) had written from memory the 15 item list of levels from the Super Mario Brothers Odyssey.
    INuse.jpg

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Location
    North Qld
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    59
    Posts
    373

    Default

    Impressive work Bob
    I quite like it
    Looks very robust too
    Thanks for sharing mate
    Log Dog

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