January 09, 2007

Hell's Kitchen

So no Christmas Card Video this year. Sorry about that. See, rather than spread my holiday spirit to everyone, I consolidated it all for two short people who barely speak English.

My 3- and 5-year-old nieces were celebrating their first Christmas in the States this year, and they asked Santa for a playkitchen. Amy and I volunteered to help Santa out by getting one for them. But after shopping around a bit, I couldn't help but think that I could make one myself (running the plumbing for the icemaker could be tricky, but the rest looked simple). My original thought was that a homemade one would be better and cheaper than a purchased one, but think I knew I was lying to myself. Mostly I just wanted to test out the skills I learned in a woodworking class I took a few years back but haven't really had a chance to use yet.

So in early December I got to work. Here's my design:

Created with SquigglyPlanner 4.0

The dimensions are 42"x42"x16". A fridge on the left, an oven on the right, with a stove and a sink above the oven. I'm not really sure how practical a sink above an oven would be in real life, but these girls wear princess dresses to bed, so I didn't think they'd notice.

I'm happy that I didn't have to change much from the initial design to the final product. It makes me optimistic about my future projects. I had hoped to put lights inside that would turn on and off when the doors opened and closed, but I ran out of time.

Construction took place in my parent's garage, using mostly their tools (thanks again, M&D). Here's a not-terribly-safe router table setup I used to round all the edges.

Here's one side of the oven that I'm rather proud of, since it involved so many curves.

And here's the final product:

Everything turned out great. Not as many bells and whistles as I would have liked, but the sink has knobs you can turn, and my mom stepped in with some touchlights to take the place of the lights I had originally hoped to make, so there was plenty for them to play with.

The only real problem I had was finding the right type of hinges for the fridge doors. I accidentally bought the wrong kind for the bottom door, and didn't notice until it was too late to go out and get the right ones, so I had to go with what I had. Sure enough, the door fell off on Christmas morning at just the wrong moment.

But I picked up the correct hinges a few days later and I was able to fix everything before we left for home.

One other mistake I made had to do with joining the fridge and the oven together. To fit it into our car (and to make sure it could be moved easily), I needed to make the two parts separable. The easiest thing to do would have been just to make them two distinct pieces. But MDF isn't exactly light, so I was afraid they would be too heavy. So to save weight, I used one side of the fridge as the side of the oven as well. The top and bottom of the oven joined to the fridge using dowels. This allowed me to snap the oven to the fridge rather securely, but still let me take it apart when needed. But as it turned out, weight wasn't a problem at all, and moving the oven without anything holding the left side together was pretty tricky. I should have taken the easy route and made the oven completely separate from the fridge.

But these were pretty small issues in the long run, and the girls have had a great time playing with it so far.

I'm sure it's fallen apart by now and Amy's family just doesn't have the heart to tell me. Next year, I think I'll go back to Christmas cards.

Here are some tools I found helpful in making this project. I get a bit of cash if anyone actually uses these links, so if you think you might pick any of these items up, perhaps you can help me out along the way?

Posted by Kevin at January 9, 2007 12:45 PM

I think their Grandma's favorite part is the self-cleaning oven!

Posted by: Amy at January 10, 2007 01:37 PM

Hey, it looks great! Nice paint job too.

Posted by: Scott at January 10, 2007 06:48 PM

You will be happy to know that it is indeed still intact (at least it was the last time I was over there playing with... err... looking at it). The realistic design has even lured mom in as she pokes her head into the fridge every now and then to cool off...

Thanks for the new iCoon too! The sound could be better, well- I guess any sound would be nice... but it sure is a hit at the gym. Industrial chic yo.

Posted by: Katie at January 10, 2007 09:20 PM

Me again. I just watched the video of the girls again and think it is funny how Sammy "discovers" the broken door but wastes no time in walking away to try out other parts of the kitchen. "dum dee dum dum.. just going to check out the oven over here...just minding my own....."

Posted by: Katie at January 23, 2007 04:59 PM

If the girls are afraid of opening a refrigerator door for the rest of their lives, I don't blame them.

Posted by: B at February 13, 2007 08:46 PM
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