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Thread: Designing Furniture for Children

  1. #1

    Designing Furniture for Children

    Hi, I'm looking for guidance designing drawers for children.

    One of my co-workers has asked me to build a bookshelf with two drawers in the bottom for large format or extra thick (think pop-up) books. I've been designing away at it and it occurred to me that the kiddos could get their fingers caught in the drawers.

    Is there a 'best practice' for drawers in kids' furniture? Full overlay? Inset? Something else? I Googled and it seems manufactured furniture is all over the map.

    I'm not using fancy ball-bearing slides, just the standard center under mount roller track-style. I could switch to traditional hardwood slides, I guess, which I think would lessen the chance of them slamming the drawers on themselves by making them harder to open/close. I don't think my co-worker is going to want to spring $30/drawer for soft-close slides.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I don't know of specific standards for that sort of thing but two thoughts come to mind. First would be to make the drawers as trays with no real front. Maybe more like the slide out trays sometimes used in kitchen cabinets like this:


    My other thought is to make the drawers to suit the design of the piece and let the kids learn to keep their fingers out of the way. I probably learned to keep my fingers out of closing drawers when I was a tot as did my siblings and nearly every kid for generations. We never made any concessions for our son with doors and drawers. He pinched his finger in a bifold door once (and only once) but he was none the worse for wear afterward. You probably learned that way, too.
    Last edited by Dave Richards; 11-11-2013 at 07:34 PM.
    Irony: The opposite of Wrinkly

  3. #3
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    I think Dave's suggestion is a good one, also perhaps don't use glides, but boxes/baskets that slide in to the cupboard/cabinet for storage on shelves or cleats.

    I had the chair/table height guide bookmarked below, might help you with that part of the design too...

    http://www.communityplaythings.com/~...ightguides.pdf
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  4. #4
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    all my siblings, all my friends and their siblings, we all grew up in the 50s and 60s and I don't think anyone worried about us getting our fingers caught in drawers.
    there were so many other things we could hurt ourselves with, like car doors, stoves, knives, stairs, walking in the street, backyard pools, etc.
    I don't think my parents worried one tiny bit about our pajama drawers hurting us.

    I say don't overthink it. Stick to what you design and Im sure your friend will love it.

    btw, my daughter is a special ed teacher with 4-8 y/o students, and there are tons of drawers in her classroom, regular drawers, some with slides, some without.
    Last edited by allen levine; 11-11-2013 at 07:44 PM.
    Human Test Dummy

  5. #5
    Ha ha. A lot of "grumpy old man" in this thread. Yes, I did grow up in a house designed and built in the 60's. There was probably lead paint on my bedroom walls, I owned a set of Lawn Darts, and I even take the guard off my TS occasionally. My thought is that if a simple design change can save some childhood trauma, there's no reason not to do it.

    I really like the open tray idea and will float it my him. The currently trendy "basket as a drawer" idea was nixed during initial design. The height design piece was interesting, but I hope never to be asked to build a bunch of child furniture!

  6. #6
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    Not so grumpy. I appreciate your sentiment of reducing childhood trauma. Fortunately most of those kinds of traumas are short lived and quickly forgotten.

    Another thing you might consider is looking at ways to make the piece little kid friendly now but converting into something appropriate for the kid when they get older, too.
    Irony: The opposite of Wrinkly

  7. #7
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    It was just my honest opinion david.

    My view is why try to reinvent the wheel.
    Human Test Dummy

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by allen levine View Post
    It was just my honest opinion david. My view is why try to reinvent the wheel.
    Right - Every kid should experience a little bit of pain...After all, pain builds character!
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim DeLaney View Post
    Right - Every kid should experience a little bit of pain...After all, pain builds character!
    yeah for many years i could spell character by taking a mirror and looking at my behind
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  10. #10
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    The only thing I could suggest is to tether or anchor the bookcase to the wall so it doesn't tip over on the kids if they stand on the bottom drawer.

    Ive made furniture for 6 kids and 13 grand kids. No life changing traumas from pinched fingers yet I do round over corners on tables though. I learned that from when I got 6 stitches on my head when I was a little kid
    Faith, Hope & Charity

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