Make a Colorful, Kid-Friendly DIY Abacus Toy

March 24, 2016   //  Posted in: Decor, DIY, For the Kids, HGTV + DIY Network Projects   //  By: Emily   //  2 responses
Tags

This post was originally published on DIY Network’s blog Made + Remade in July 2014.

Wooden playthings are timeless and enjoyed by kids of all ages. There’s something to be said about classic wooden train sets and hand-carved rattles when you compare them to the mass produced plastic, light-up toys that inevitably also occupy space in your family’s toy chest, and I’m here today to show you one that you can make at home: A colorful DIY abacus.

How to make a DIY abacus for your kids to play with.

Step 1

Cut a board of 2×2 wood into three pieces: The two sides measure 12″ in length, the base will measure 15″ in length.

Step 2

You will want to make sure your abacus rungs are even, and the best way to do this is to create a template using scrap wood. Measure and pre-drilling 5 holes, each spaced 1-1/2″ apart.

How to make a DIY abacus for your kids to play with.

Step 3 

Prepare to paint the wooden beads your chosen colors. It’s really not easy to evenly paint something that’s round, but in this case, I was able to string the beads onto a grilling skewer and balance them over a wooden box for elevation.

How to paint round beads.

Step 4 

Coat your beads using non-toxic paint. Most of mine required 3 coats to achieve an opaque look.

How to paint round beads.

Step 5

While the paint dries, assemble your abacus frame by joining the pieces using a screw at each lap joint. Tip: In addition to pre-drilling to ward against splitting, use a second drill bit that is slightly larger than your screw head to widen the opening and allow for you to countersink the screw so that it is out of sight completely.

How to make a DIY abacus for your kids to play with.

Step 6

Sand the assembled abacus using a fine sandpaper (tap into a palm sander if you have one handy). Smoothing down the edges and surfaces evens out the abacus frame nicely. If you want to seal the wood, I recommend a non-toxic finish like beeswax, or a salad bowl oil finish to keep the toy kid-friendly.

How to make a DIY abacus for your kids to play with.

Step 7

String your beads onto 16″ lengths of leather cord, and attach them to the frame row by row. I like using leather cord for this project versus a dowel, because the narrow dowels that you would need to fit through these beads seems apt to snap like a twig if pulled the wrong way by a child. Leather has a little stretch, making it more kid-friendly.

How to make a DIY abacus for your kids to play with.

Step 8

Knot each end so that they are very taut, and trim any excess leather away.

How to make a DIY abacus for your kids to play with.

Step 9

Enjoy your DIY abacus as a piece of classic home decor, or as a toy for your child!

How to make a DIY abacus for your kids to play with.


Comments
  • cd
    1 year ago - Reply

    Did I miss a pot about an extended vacation or something? I like catching up on these old projects – but do you have any current projects scheduled?

    • Emily
      1 year ago -

      Hey there! No extended vaca and still have plenty of projects in progress (especially now that the weather is improving!). I’ve just been slowly migrating a bunch of old content from DIY Network so that it can live on Merrypad – I’m about half way done with what was a very long list. I was going to sprinkle in new posts as well but once I got rolling I actually figured they’d get overlooked in the shuffle, so I’ll hold off publishing new projects until I get caught up on the stuff you’re seeing now. I did a quick mention of it in this post last month. In short, please bear with me and I promise it will be done soon and you’ll never have to read about old projects again :) http://www.merrypad.com/2016/02/19/diy-network-projects-3/

      Emily

Leave a Comment