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Built for the playroom or the backyard, this playtime slide is destined to be a hit with the little ones.
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This slide is designed for children 2 - 4 years of age. It features high side rails and handles for safety and a gentle slope for toddlers.
To simplify the assembly and finishing steps for this project, cut the parts to size, apply the finish, and then assemble following the steps listed below. For the painted parts, sand with 120-grit sandpaper. For the parts to be stained, use 120-grit sandpaper, wipe with a tack cloth, and sand again with 180-grit sandpaper.
Sand the 3/4-in x 3-1/2-in boards with 120- and 180-grit sandpaper. When the boards are smooth, cut the legs (A), lower spacers (B), top spacers (C), and slide sides (D) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Diagram) using a miter saw. Smooth any splinters from the cuts using sandpaper.
To make two sides (D) with one cut, stack the two boards on top of one another and stick together with two or three 1-in square pieces of carpet tape. Check that the edges and ends are aligned and make the cuts. Now separate the boards and remove the tape. This little trick guarantees perfect pairs.
Use a compass to draw the curved top of a leg (A), and cut the shape with a jigsaw (Project Diagram, Drawing 1 and Drawing 2). Lay out the holes at the top of the leg and drill them using a 2-in hole saw.
When using a hole saw, occasionally check to see when the center pilot bit goes through the board -- the pilot bit extends beyond the teeth of the larger cutter. When the pilot bit penetrates the board you're cutting, remove the hole saw, flip the board over, and complete the hole by drilling from the opposite side using the pilot hole as a starting point. This prevents chipping.
Place a scrap of wood under the leg to keep from drilling into your bench as the bit goes through the wood (Photo 1). Repeat for the other leg.
Lay out the top of each slide side (D) by drawing the top radius with a compass -- the arch should be tangent with the top edge of the leg and the angle you cut earlier (Photo 2) -- then cut the radius with a jigsaw. Repeat for the other side. Soften all the corners of the parts with sandpaper, wipe with a tack cloth, and apply stain to the 3/4-in x 3-1/2-in parts (A, B, C, and D). Note that you do not apply stain to the mating faces of the legs and spacers (Project Diagram, Drawing 2) and the ends of the sides. You'll apply glue to these surfaces later; leaving the board unfinished will result in a stronger glue bond. Also, remember that you'll have left and right slide sides and spacers.
After the stain dries, brush on the first coat of semigloss polyurethane. When dry, sand with 320-grit sandpaper, wipe with a tack cloth, and apply the final coat of polyurethane to the stained surfaces.
Cut the steps (E) and top step (F) to length from a 3/4-in x 5-1/2-in board. On the top step, round the edge of the board with a router and 1/2-in round-over bit (Project Diagram, Drawing 4). (If you don't have a router, a rasp can make quick work of the corner and create a rounded edge. A rasp is a handheld file used for shaping wood. Then sand smooth.)
From 3/4-in x 1-1/2-in boards, cut the cleats (G) and braces (H) (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Diagram). From 1/2-in plywood, cut the slide (I) to size. (If necessary, a Lowe's store associate can cut the plywood for you.) Sand the parts and assemble the cleats and braces using glue and screws (Project Diagram, Drawing 3). Glue and clamp the slide onto the brace/cleat frame (Photo 3). The slide will overhang 1-1/2-in on one end of the frame. After the glue dries, ease all of the sharp corners with sandpaper. Then apply a primer and two coats of paint to the stairs (E, F) and the slide assembly (G/H/I).
Starting at the bottom of the left and right legs (A), position the bottom spacers (B) (Photo 4). Clamp the parts together and screw a spacer to the inside face of each leg (Project Diagram, Drawing 2).
Rest the legs (A) on 1-in-tall scraps to make positioning the steps easier. Place the bottom step (E) against the bottom spacers (B) so it projects 1-in from the front and back of the leg. Clamp it in position and drill countersinks and pilot holes to prevent splitting. Then screw it in place (Photo 5).
Add the remaining spacers and steps, securing the parts with glue and screws. Do not attach the top step until after you install the slide assembly.
Drill countersunk pilot holes in the painted slide assembly (G/H/I). Then screw it to the sides (D) (Photo 6) so the bottom corners of the cleats (G) are flush with the bottom edge of the sides and the bottom end of the slide touches the bottom angle of the sides (Project Diagram, Drawing 3).
Slip the completed slide assembly between the legs of the ladder assembly. Stand both assemblies on a flat surface to be sure the angle on the bottom of the ladder and slide contacts the ground evenly; clamp one side of the slide to a leg. Lay the slide on its side, drill countersunk pilot holes, and secure with screws (Photo 7). Repeat for the other side.
To place the top step, first find the angle of the other steps using a sliding T-bevel (Photo 8).
Slide the bevel up the leg so the blade rests on the top of the slide (Photo 9). Draw a line under the blade to locate the bottom of the top step. Repeat for the opposite side.
Attach 3/4-in angle plates to the bottom of the top step (Project Diagram, Drawing 4). Slip the step into position along the line you drew in Step 8 with the rounded edge on top and over the top end of the slide. Then screw it in place (Photo 10).