DIY natural wooden baby gym

I'm not a woodworker and I'm not typically a DIY-er, but this was so fun. I'm not a woodworker because, although I enjoy it, I find that the simplest of all projects require oh so many tools. That's why for this project I walked down to my bother-in-law's house. He had everything I needed except for a 3/4 in bit which I purchased and left at his house as a token of my appreciation. I'm not a DIY-er because I'm a perfectionist. When my projects inevitably end up imperfect, I immediately throw them out before the failure consumes me. That's why for this project, I decided to chill out. Lucy is all of 2 months old now and I feel like she's going to be relatively forgiving if my project falls short of perfection. 

These baby gyms can be found online for anywhere from $80-$250. If I add up everything in the "materials you'll need" section, mine was around $55, but you can swap out every detail of this design for something cheaper or pricier depending on what you're looking for. 

So if you're down to give it a try, here's what you'll need:

Materials You'll Need:
4 oak boards (.5" x 1.5" x 36")
1 oak dowel (3/4" x 36")
leather cord
wooden beads
wooden rings
white paint (zero VOC)

Tools You'll Want:
sheet sander
table saw
clamps
drill
small drill bit
3/4 spade bit
paint brush
frog tape

Step 1: 
Cut the legs down to your desired height. You can do them one at a time or you can clamp them together and go for it! I cut my legs 31" and my dowel to 34".


Step 2.
Sand every edge of the wood you purchased. This is the longest and most tedious step, but it's worth it! You're little ones will not be gentle with this toy and you don't want any stray splinters hanging around.

Step 3:
Add a curve to the edge of your four posts using your hand saw. 

Step 4:
Use your spade bit to drill a 3/4 inch hole through each of the 4 legs. I started with a pilot hole so that the bit didn't slip. 

Step 5: 
Drill three small holes through your dowel with a small drill bit that is slightly larger than the leather cord that you purchase. Place one hole dead in the center of the dowel and then two holes 6" on either side of the center hole.

Step 6:
Paint your white accents. I chose to have my white a the top so that it would be far from where Lucy would chew. I wrapped green tape where I wanted the white to end to give it a clean edge.

Step 7:
After the pieces have dried, assemble the baby gym structure.

Step 8:
Cut a 12" strip of leather and run it through the small holes on the side of the legs. Tie the leather off on either side with a double knot and cut off any excess. Repeat on the opposite side of the gym. This will help to keep the gym from over extending. 

Step 9:
Cut a 2' leather cord strip. Run the cord through a wooden ring so that the wooden ring is hanging in the center of the strip. Then run both ends of the strip through three beads. Then run both ends of the strip through the hole in the dowel and tie it off on the other side with a double knot. Do this for each of the three holes on your dowel. 

Step 10: 
This step can be left off if you don't like the look, but I wanted something soft with a little color for Lucy to bat at. Pick a fabric that you like and cut 1/2" x 6" strips. Tie them onto the wooden rings using a single knot. I had a pillow case from Nathan's great Aunt that I used for my strips. It was just the extra touch of love I was looking for :)

Let me know if you give this a try! It was super fun for me and I hope it's fun for you!

-Theresa Joy