Thursday, 10 May 2012

Toddler hanging board

Whilst on his mission to empty every drawer in our house, my 14 month old son found a keyring. Since then, this has been a favourite treasure, carried from room to room as he experiments with where he can find to hang it. We have venetian blinds inside our double-glazed french windows and the little knobs for winding the blind cords on are at a perfect height for him (the blind cords are now all kept well out of his reach). The cupboard knobs on our bathroom vanity are a good spot, and the drawer handles on the chest of drawers in the hall. Slightly less predictable are the controls on the washing machine, but the keyring hangs there quite nicely, if he gets the balance right.

Yesterday he and I made a hanging board with lots of hooks and catches, for him to experiment and play with. It's all made from things we had lying around.

Here's directions for making a similar one:

1. Find one length of wood, and a bunch of miscellaneous hooks and knobs.

2. Recapture those hooks and knobs that your child has claimed and carried away.

3. Place the hooks approximately where you want to have them on the board. Mark with pencil the centre of the board at each point where you have placed a hook.

4. Get out your drill bits and check which size you need for each of your hooks or knobs or screws. The drill bit should be about the same size as the centre of the screw on your hook, so if you hold them up with the drill bit in front, you can see the flanges of the screw sticking out on either side. Get your pencil back from your toddler and write down the size you need for each hole, in order, on a piece of paper.

5. Decide how you're going to attach/hang/fasten your board. See below for more info. If necessary, mark the back of your board where you need to drill.

6. Head outside with your drill, drill bits and hooks. Drill each spot you've marked with the size drill bit you wrote on your paper. Be careful not to go all the way through (it doesn't matter to the project, but you might damage your drill or whatever you're resting the wood on).

7. If you're using strapping to hold up your board, this would be a good time to staple the strapping on the back.

8. Screw in your hooks. I needed to use pliers to get mine all the way in. Rescue your plants from the toddler who may be trying to dig them up with a screwdriver.

9. Fix your fasteners to the back, and any protective wadding you need (see below).

10. Let your child loose with their new hanging board! Have your camera handy for the smiles. :)

How to attach/hang/fasten your board

I started with a big hook on the back of our board, to hang over the top of our low cupboards. But this caused several problems. There is an overhang on our cupboard benchtop that the hook didn't fit under. And there was no way to hold in the bottom, so my son was banging the board (and the sharp edged hook) on the cupboards as he tried to get the keyring off the hooks. So I took the hook off and staple-gunned a strap with an adjuster to the top and bottom of the board. Then I glued felt over the staples. This fits around a cupboard door that is closed with a child lock, so he can't pull the cupboard door open and the door is protected from scratches.

If hanging with a hook:

1. Mark on the back of your board where your hook should be attached and check that it is not too close to any of the screws coming in from the front of the board. If necessary, move hooks on the front up or down.

2. When drilling for the front, also drill the back holes.

3. Screw your hook to the back.

4. Hang your board!

If using strapping:

1. Find strapping or webbing long enough to go around the cupboard or place where you want to use your board. Fit an adjuster so you can pull the strap tight.

2. Using a staple-gun, attach the webbing to the top and bottom of your board.

3. Glue felt over your staples (I used a hot glue gun.)

4. Strap your board where you want to use it!

If anyone else makes their toddler a hanging board and comes up with another way to hold it up, I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

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