Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dad50 #20 Play Kitchen

After some personal observation, Dad U suspects that little girls come with a part of their brains wired with long term goals: aka a "Princess" wedding*; and others more immediate: a play kitchen. Since Dad U attended a wedding on the weekend and might formulate a separate post, obligate-play-kitchen-neural-circuitry is the topic here.
In hindsight, one of my best ever Dad-wins was to equip a small workshop in my garage, and not only for the therapeutic hammering opportunities. With a bench, some power hand tools, a decent miter saw (big ticket item), drill press, band saw (now broken, boo), router/table, hand sander, and extra odds and ends collected over time, I reached a critical mass of tools to be able to construct and repair toys for my crew.
Dad U highly recommends leaning to work with wood. There is just no comparison to the feel, weight, smell, durability, and repair-ability of wooden toys. The cheap plastic stuff you can get at your standard big barn store is nice and shiny to start with, but is just land-fill fodder waiting to happen. Do not, as tempting as it is, buy your daughter a big plastic toy play kitchen. If you don't have the resources to build one, then just wait that little bit longer until you can buy a wooden one. She will get double or triple the play-life out of it, with even the potential to strip and repaint it for her own girls, decades later.
If you do decide to tackle a DIY play kitchen project, you will earn thousands of made-by-MY-Dad-points. The kitchen I made was quite the project.
I just kind of went for it with an all-in-one design: oven on the right, cupboard on the left, sink and hot plates on the top, including taps and faucet and storage shelf. A quick look online brought up several good looking plans, so you don't need to feel daunted by designing something yourself. It's had almost daily use for more than 5 years now, and is still looking good. And when it eventually does deteriorate from over use, a repair/repaint/upgrade is no problem because I mostly used pine and poplar instead of chipboard.
I don't want to trivialize the effort needed: it did take several months of after work and weekend building. But it was finished that Christmas Eve! A friend warned me that that the biggest problem would be that once it was done, I would be pestered (and duty bound) to build the matching fridge, microwave and pantry cupboard. Fortunately, that hasn't been required. Yet.

Dad U
-hours, upon hours, upon hours, of play

*hopefully not a topic in my house for quite some time!

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