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Here is a set of child table and chairs to fit the little people that they'll be able to call their own.
I've designed this set for the home handyman and his kids to build and assemble with little difficulty.
The table top, chair backs and seat and skirt are all made from a single sheet of 1/2" plywood. The legs are made from 2x2, 2x4 or 2x6 stock.
The legs are tapered both ways on the inside from 1 1/2" under the skirt to 1" at the floor. I explain how to do this in the section "A Tapering Jig". Only taper the legs below the skirt, so you can have a good fit on the inside corner of the skirt. Glue and screws are called for at the union of the legs and skirt.
Notice the dotted line on the drawing of the side of the child table. This represents a 2 1/2" piece nailed and glued between the skirt for extra support for the top. The top has its edges rounded over for a smooth finish. Overhang the top 3/4" over the skirt. An optional top can be a plastic laminate finish.
The backrest leg is cut from a solid piece of 2x4. Follow the detail as shown in the drawing of the child chair.
The leg portion is again tapered both ways (like the table), but the backrest portion of the leg is an even 1 1/2" x 1 1/2".
Round over the edges of the backrests and seats before assembly.
A fence is used on a table saw to make cuts exactly parallel to an edge of the material being cut. When we want to make a cut that is not parallel with an edge, one way to do it is with a jig. We could make a simple jig with the exact angle we need for this project or make a little more complex one that can be adjusted for whatever angle you might need in the future as well. We'll call it a "tapering jig".
The tapering jig consists basically of two pieces of wood that can be adjusted to different angles. The jig is placed against the fence, the material to be tapered is placed against the jig and both the material and the jig are moved along the fence together giving a straight cut at an exact angle.
Let's start making this jig by ripping two pieces of 3/4" plywood 2 1/2" wide (about the same height as the fence) and cut to 30" long. Find a piece of piano hinge or butt hinge about 2" to 2 1/2" long and fasten this to the two pieces of plywood so when they are placed with their 2 1/2" faces together are even in length. After installing the hinge on one end, they will open up on the opposite end. Keep the hinge flush or below the top and bottom edges of the plywood pieces.
Now we must devise a way to keep the jig from opening too much or not enough and stop at the precise point we want. To do this we need a lock or stop of some kind. The easiest adjustable lock to make is one from 1/4" plywood.
Rip a piece of 1/4" plywood 1" wide by 6" long and round the ends nicely. At one end drill a 3/16" hole, centered on the piece and 3/8" from the rounded end. Measure 1" from this same end and drill a 5/16" hole. At the other end of this piece, come in 1/2" and drill another 5/16" hole.
Now connect the sides of these two 5/16" holes with a pencil line so that you have two parallel lines 5/16" apart and ending in a 5/16" hole at each end. Cut these two lines very carefully with a jig saw using a fine blade. Be careful not to push the blade too hard and break the plywood.
Cut from one hole to the other along the two pencil lines to form a slot. This slot should be able to have a 1/4" bolt slide along it without catching up anywhere.
Assemble the slotted lock onto the top edge of the jig. Screw the 3/16" hole end to the right hand piece so the rounded end is flush with the outside face of the jig and the screw is placed about 2" from the end opposite the hinge. Use a #8 x1 1/2" screw with a 3/16" flat washer over and under the slot.
Predrill the jig to accept the screw and tighten so it's just snug. The lock must be free to swivel on this screw. On the other side of the jig, about 2" from the end opposite the hinge, predrill a hole and install a 1/4" diameter leg screw. Assemble the slotted lock with a 1/4" washer above and below the slot onto this leg screw with a 1/4" wing nut. A leg screw is a fastener with wood screw threads on one end and machine threads on the other. It is used primarily in attaching bed or table legs to a metal plate fastened to the frame.
Next we need to install a stop for the material we are tapering so it can be moved with the jig as one unit. This is done by attaching a piece of 3/4" plywood with measurements of 2 1/2" x 1 1/2" onto the left hand side of the jig at the end. Predrill two holes for #8x1 1/2" screws and glue and screw the small piece on. Keep the top and bottom flush with the jig and overlap it by 3/4" on the outside, forming a stop for the material to rest against.
Okay, we've created a jig, but how do we use it? From the sketch you can see that our jig is on the table saw against the fence.
Place the jig on the table saw with the leg to be tapered. On the leg draw a line where the taper will be—1" at the bottom end and 1 1/2" at the top end. Remember to leave 2 1/2" at the top end without a taper so it can have a tight fit with the skirts of the table.
Orient the leg as in the sketch with the bottom of the leg against the end stop. Move the fence about a foot away from the blade and lock it in position. Now adjust the jig so when the leg is against the jig and the jig is against the fence the line on the leg is parallel to the saw blade. Slide the jig and leg back and forth along the fence to get these measurements. When sliding the jig, make sure the jig and leg move as one unit without any slipping between them.
Adjust the fence and jig towards the blade until the blade just starts to cut the line at the start of the taper near the top.
For the child table legs cut 4 pieces the same, but when assembling them twist the legs so the tapers are on the inside of the table. You want the legs to have the most spread on the floor to give stability to the table.
For each child chair make the two front legs the same. Turn to position them when assembling. Make the back legs (holding the back rest) each opposite to the other (a mirror image). Remember the table leg height is 19 1/2" long with the taper starting 2 1/2" from the top end and the front chair legs are 11 1/2" long with the taper starting 2 1/2" from the top end.
The chair's back leg (that holds the back rest) is a little more complicated. Layout the two back legs on a 2x4 and cut the pieces out with a circular saw and/or jig saw. Follow the instructions and drawings to assemble.
Finally, remove all rough edges, then sand and paint the project. Get the kids involved in assembling and painting. From experience, my five year old grandson loves to paint. He'll slap it on thick, missing spots here and there, but he gets the paint on the piece. Then I spread and smooth it out for him. Don't let them get too far ahead of you so the paint dries before you can spread it out. Use latex paint, which washes off. Kids love to help and will appreciate their new child furniture more by it.
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