Preschool playset remodel.


My youngest son and nephews pre-school is tiny. Literally it’s two classrooms, but it’s a great environment for them both which includes identical playsets in each class.

Hundreds if not thousands of kids have played on them. Being built in the 80’s when building codes weren’t as strict, they were no longer compliant.

While the wood is still good, had been sanded well and sealed well there were a few problems.  The banister rails been deemed to be too short and the handrails needed to have another one put on the bottom under the other two on either side.

The choices were to surround the play sets with a 6 foot giant landing mat around the sides, or to raise the banister rails and add another handrail. A landing pad would have taken up far too much room in the class so I volunteered to rebuild some of the rails so they met code.

Because construction was going to take a little while (actually it turned out to be a long while, started before Christmas it was finished in early April), the rail cutting / routing / sanding was going to take place off site and then assembled onsite during a weekend afternoon

First thing was to take lots of pictures, and lots of measurements.

2 3 4 5 6 7 8


I did up some high-level sketches just showing how the rails would be raised.


9 10


The next step was to cut up a whole pile of 2”x2” rails to the desired height with a 45 angel cut on the ends to match what was originally there. The rails also had been rounded off with a quarter round router bit, so I did that as well.




I knew there was no way I could match the old finish that was on the original wood so I decided to go with something a bit brighter and engaging for the kids mixing blue, red, green and white paints that I had my son pick out. Then it was just a matter of cutting and routing. Here are some shots of the wood after cutting but being painted. The coats ranged from 4-5 to get a deep coverage and then 3 coats of a clear poly to brighten it up.


12 13 14 15

By some miracle the measurements all turned out perfect, which is nearly a first for me. We still have the bottom hand rail to make but that will be easy to do.

Future Makers


After the welding demo last night, and a successful run with the MakerBot, I came home and couldn’t sleep. I don’t know if it was all the new ideas running through my head, or something else, but I started to think about what Royce has said about being a “Skill Collector” and having a checklist of new things you’re able to do. I didn’t take a welding class when I was in high school (they did offer it, and lots of kids took it) but I did take woodshop for a few years, and my dad (and his dad) had a great basement workshop where things would get built, and taken apart, and repaired.

It’s been over 20+ years since I’ve been in high school, and things have changed. From what I hear many schools don’t have any sort of shop classes, and that’s a shame. Maybe they should have some sort of “DIY” or “Make/Craft” classes at least.

Anyway, while I couldn’t sleep, I came across this article: Why your teenager can’t use a hammer.

As a maker, and someone who loves to learn how things work, it’s a little sad. I remember teaching my kids to use a power drill when they were less than 9 years old, and while they haven’t used the saw yet (they’ve asked) that’s also on the to do list.

(Someone also posted the link to the Pumping Station: One mailing list. There’s some good insight there as well.)