Published on March 15th, 2013 | by Jules Yap


Lucy’s learning tower


Materials: BEKVA„M step stool

Description: Like most toddlers, our Lucy was a curious little one… I wanted her to be able to look, help and play at our kitchen’s counter height but didn’t feel safe letting her stand on a chair… Besides, she was so short she couldn’t even climb up on to the chair independently.

I knew that official ‘learning towers’ weren’t in our budget… I finally came across this beautiful Montessori website and this DIY version.

Here are our measurements and instructions:

(Note that the BEKVAM has undergone some changes in its measurements over the years. Please see comments for alternative measurements.)

- The four posts are 1.5″ x 1.5″ x 17″ (cut four) – *** but I suggest that you place the stool by your counter to make sure that the height of the tower will not exceed the height of the counter if you use our measurements. Therefore adjust the height of these posts according to your counter height.

- We used the same 1.5″ x 1.5″ wood for the sides as rails in the centre of the tower – 7″ long (cut two)

- The other rails are all 3/4″ x 3.5″ wood. The side rails on the top measure 9 7/8″ (cut two). The back rails measure 15″ (cut two).

- Our dowel (5/8″ diameter) on the front measures 16 3/8″ and goes through all the layers of wood on the ends – *** but I suggest that you only drill holes in the posts (1.5″ x 1.5″ x 17″), then thread the dowel through to both ends and then attach the side rails which will cover the holes – in this case, your dowel should be 14 7/8″ long (cut one)

My husband used a combination of 1 1/2 wood screws and 2 1/2 wood screws…

Begin by drilling holes (5/8″) through two of the posts, 1 1/2″ down from the top of the posts.

Attach the vertical posts by screwing upward from the step stool (I’m not sure how the step stool comes when you buy it, but if that top step is not attached, just wait to attach it after the posts are in… in our case, the stool came assembled from the side of the road, so hubby had to detach the top step in order to attach the posts). Be sure to attach the posts with the holes onto the FRONT of the step and place the posts so the holes at the TOP.

Attach the back rails – one lined up with the top of the posts and the other roughly in the centre. Use two screws for each end.

String the dowel through the holes.

Attach both of the top-side rails. (The dowel should now be ‘sandwiched’ between the top rails.)
Make sure that the screws don’t run into each other (on the corner posts, the screws intersect into the same post, so make sure to spread them out so they don’t split the wood by going into the exact same spot)

Lastly, attach the centre-side rails. These should fit snug between the posts. Again, be sure that the screws do not intersect.

Then follow IKEA’s instructions on assembling the rest of the step stoop (i.e. attaching the top step and everything you’ve now created onto the rest of the stool)

I then filled the holes with wood filler, sanded, filled again and sanded one more time…
Then primed the whole thing (wood sucks up a lot of paint) and painted two coats of paint.

See more of the Bekvam learning tower.

~ Jenny, Toronto, Canada

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

42 Responses to Lucy’s learning tower

  1. Mindy says:

    Thanks for this! We used a new Ikea bakvam stool and used the following measurements :
    (4) 1.5 x 1.5 x 16″ (posts)
    (1) 1.5 x 1.5 x 14.25″ (front grab bar)
    (2) 1.5 x 1.5 x 6.5″ (2 middle sides)
    (2) 3/4 x 3.5 x 9.5″ (2 top sides)
    (12) 2 1/2″ wood screws
    (4) 1 1/2″ wood screws

    Worked perfectly!

    • Lisa says:

      Hi I just made the tower yesterday and here are the measurements (adjusted from the previous comment – the back bars were missing):

      (4) 1.5 x 1.5 x 17″ (posts)
      (1) 5/8 x 5/8 x 13 3/4″ (front grab bar (dowel)
      (2) 1.5 x 1.5 x 6.5″ (2 middle sides)
      (2) 3/4 x 3.5 x 9.5″ (2 top sides)
      (1) 3/4 x 3.5 x 15″ (1 top back)
      (1) 3/4 x 3.5 x 14″ (1 middle back)
      (12) 2 1/2″ wood screws
      (4) 1 1/2″ wood screws

  2. Polaris says:

    Ooooo I love this hack! I think the expensive learning towers are kind of bulky and ugly looking. I love how simple this one looks and how easy it is to climb in and out of! Definitely going to try this. Lucy is pretty darn cute too ;)

  3. cathy says:

    These are cute toddler stools that are personalized. I thought it would relate to the blog.

  4. Elena says:

    How much paint did the two top coats take? I would hate to end up with a bunch of left over green paint.

    • Kaye Engel says:

      What kind of paint is everyone using – I was told to use an oil base so it would be more durable but it is tacky and taking forever to dry – did you use spray paint or latex or an oil base – thanks

  5. Sonnett says:

    I made mine today for my little girl. Thank you. Its awesome and she loves it already.

  6. Petra Thompson says:

    my friend just built this for us. It looks great. Do you think it’s OK to use spray paint? Also, could you tell me what kind of wood filler and primer did you use? I don’t know how to do any of this.
    Thanks Petra

  7. Letizia says:

    Hello, congratulations!
    Can you give me a list of the materials?
    1pcs BEKVÄM stool and then?

  8. Dader says:

    Thanks Neal!

  9. Anna J says:

    Wishing I would have read all these comments before I got all the wood cut! Re-cutting tonight to the proper lengths. Administrator might want to make a note about the measurements being off in the main posting. Still, my toddler is Sooooo ready for this! :)

  10. travis says:

    Have you had any complaints about side to side tipping? Or have you seen any modified versions to stale the base?

  11. alex says:

    Hi ! I want to know what kind of wood did you use ?

    • Rick says:

      Alex – Personally, it would depend on how you plan on finishing it. If your painting it, then it shouldn’t much matter, unless you just don’t want softwood. The step stool looks like it made for either oak or poplar, can’t tell for sure. If you plan of staining it, then you will need the same wood so that both pieces take on the same appearance.

  12. Rachel says:

    Hmmmm…my 25 month old is towering over this. Kind of bummed. The bottom of her butt is higher than the dowel. She’s not a giant (36.5″) so beware of you have a normal sized 2 yo this could be a total waste of your time :( fail

    • Rick says:

      I think that I would have measured your child first, then make adjustments accordingly.

      • Rachel says:

        You can’t adjust the height to your child because then the rails will be higher than your controls and your child won’t be able to work with the wood higher than their work surface.

        • Gemma says:

          You could cut a few inches off the legs and then put a few inches onto the height of the rails – so it has the same overall height but your child stands lower?

          Or you could make the back & side rails higher than the front rails so that they can still reach the counter in front of them as normal but if they lean backwards or sideways they won’t topple over.

          I guess it’s all about looking at the size of your child, the size of your counter and then considering the size of the steps/rails.

      • Rachel says:

        You can’t adjust the height of the wood or it will be higher than your countertops and the child won’t be able to work or reach their work surface.

  13. Sara says:

    Inspired by this we came up with a no nail, no cut solution. We zip tied a shelf from the babord shoe rack to each side of the stool so that it was at counter height. Three zip ties each side. Then we added a piece of wood the same size as the lower step that slots into the back to stop child from falling backwards. You could add another at the front, but since it’s pushed up against the counter, there isn’t much need.

  14. Jacob says:

    Thanks for this! I went to lumber yard and bought the wood, cut it myself to make sure the stool measured up to the counter precisely. Awesome idea, made it during one of her afternoon naps and she loves being able to get up and down to the counter when ever she wants. Plus, I painted it to match our island chairs which makes it look like part of the kitchen now instead of something out of peewees play house if I bought something at box store. Sweet. stuff, thanks for sharing!!!

  15. Neal says:

    I just did this project, and I also ran into the same measurement issue mentioned above. I bought the stool in Brooklyn Ikea on 8/3/14, and the top of the stool currently measures 9.5″ x 14.25″.

    So — these were the cuts that worked for me:

    Posts (x4)
    - 1.5″ x 1.5″ x 16.125″ (height of my counter)

    Center Side Rails (x2)
    - 1.5″ x 1.5″ x 6.5″

    Side rails (x2)
    - 0.75″ x 3.5″ x 9.5″

    Front top rail (x1)
    - 0.75″ x 3.5″ x 15.75″

    Front bottom rail (x1)
    - 0.75″ x 3.5″ x 14.25″

    Dowel (5/8″ diameter)
    - 14.25″

    Thanks for this, was a fun project. Can’t wait to have our little one try it!

  16. Kevin says:

    I have to agree with Dan and Gigi here. I cut all the wood to measure as indicated, but had to shorten some of the pieces (ex: the middle rails) to be able to properly fit. And an arsenal of additional tools were required to get it just right: clamps, countersinking drill bit to avoid splitting the wood, drill spade to bore out the hole for the dowel, and a sander to get it all nice and flush and round the edges. The hack is great and I wanted to thank you so much for the details, I might just have to make another one for a friend. Thanks for sharing this.

  17. Gigi says:

    This was a clever simple design but it took 3 people 4.75 hrs to make two of them. So I would say it’s only inexpensive if your time is worth nothing.
    We had our local building supplier make most of the cuts. Thank you Dan for warning us about the discrepancy in measurements.
    The final product turned out with No FAILS due to clear directions and our precise measuring.
    Fortunately we do have a well stocked wood working shop because we needed a sander, a drill with several drill bits, an awl , clamps for holding the rails in place while we screwed them on to the tower, a radial arm saw and a better Allen wrench than the one supplied by Ikea.
    I think my grandson will make good use of this stool.
    I know this project has satiated my desire to do an Ikea hack.

  18. Harlan Bloom says:

    This learning tower is awesome!! We used the general idea, and the step stool from Ikea, and built it to fit our counter height. This helps our vertically challenged daughter to be involved in what we are doing; our counters are set for taller people. Now she can “help”, which usually means writing/coloring directly on the countertop while we are trying to make meals. Yes, we give her paper but that doesn’t mean she stays on it long. She also likes to snack (swipe food) while we are cooking.

  19. Karen says:

    I think I had the same problems as @Dan. I blogged my own personal beginner issues using your AWESOME tutorial as a back drop. I think most of my fails were my own personally issues.

  20. jenny says:

    thank you all for your kind words ♥

    lucy is almost three now (!) and still uses her tower daily!

    yes Dan, as i mentioned on the blog post (which is linked to this post), my steps stool came from the side of the road, so i have no idea how old it is. ikea’s measurements change slightly as they change their manufacturers. others have followed my measurements with no problems… they’ve probably used their old stools as well.

    nm – her sweater was a ‘joe fresh’ find – she still fits in that too ;)

  21. VS says:

    Thanks for making this project available – we gave ours to our daughter yesterday and we love it! Our daughter now can do lots of things she couldn’t do before because she couldn’t really use the counter (like operate a banana slicer), as well as reach lots of things she couldn’t before (like the sink and the utensil drawer). This learning tower really empowers her and makes our lives easier/better too – thanks!

  22. MR says:

    Thank you for sharing! We made ours this weekend and it has been fantastic to have our hands back in the kitchen!

  23. nm says:

    This is brilliant and I wonder if you could approach Ikea to sell this design? I’d also love to know where Lucy got her lovely knit sweater!!

  24. Dan says:

    This is so great! I bought the stepstool from IKEA, then proceeded to take your measurements to the lumberyard. Unfortunately, all of the length measurements you gave do not work. I used the exact same size wood that you suggested and cut them to the exact lengths indicated, and they’re all about 3/4″ too long. I’ll gladly post the exact sizes once I cut them down to size and make sure the thing works. Anyway, the good news is that all of the wood is too long, so it’ll be easy to cut shorter as opposed to starting with pieces that are too short. I’m wondering if you have an older step stool that has slightly different dimensions than the one you posted in the link (which you can buy today at IKEA). The only thing I measured before going to the store was my counter height, because that is unique to your own kitchen. But I can’t figure out why all the other pieces of wood are too long. (like, 7″ is too long to fit between 2 pieces of 2×2 (1.5″ x 1.5″ actual) standing on the corners of the step stool.) I’ll update soon.

    Still, a great idea! – Dan

  25. Anonymous says:

    Ooooo I love this hack! I think the expensive learning towers are kind of bulky and ugly looking. I love how simple this one looks and how easy it is to climb in and out of! Definitely going to try this. Lucy is pretty darn cute too ;)

  26. Jerry says:

    Wow, great idea! And a whole lot cheaper than other learning towers.

  27. Janine says:

    That’s super awesome! We have wanted one of the ‘real’ learning towers for a long time but they are out of our budget as well. It’s cool to see a project like this on IKEA Hackers. :)

  28. RoseAG says:

    That’s sweet. I like that she can climb up into it herself but once she’s up there she’s guarded against falls from the highest platform.

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