I showed my uncle the pile of wood, which had been sitting in the driveway until I could find the time to put it together. I described the kind of thing I wanted to build and how I thought it would come together. There would be questions and problems that would come up, but I had a few tools lying around and felt confident I would be able to cobble something together.
Clio has never been afraid of getting dirty. She relishes any opportunity to put her hands in water, mud, sand, and anything else that makes us consider how much we care about the clothes she's wearing. We're thankful for her curiosity and want to encourage her, but playing in and around water can be slightly more traumatic for parents than it is actually dangerous for kids her age. So we wanted a safe place for her to "splash and splash".
I'd looked up a few different activity tables online and had a short laundry list of materials I'd need to frankenstein something together. The centerpiece being a plastic tub used for mixing concrete. After looking at the pile one night after dinner, my uncle offered his help and use of his shop. I think partially out of concern for my daughter's safety.
The next day, my dad and I drove over early with the raw materials. Although not a carpenter by trade, my uncle is more than just a hobbyist wood worker. I'd seen some of the furniture he'd built and spoken briefly with him about it, but not having ever built anything myself, I wasn't really aware of how much really went into their construction.
Between dinner the previous night and breakfast that morning, he'd gone online and found a few really great activity tables and put together a rough sketch of how we might do something similar.
Once we agreed on the design and got into his shop, he talked me through the steps involved in building it and I realized my original table would have taken forever/looked terrible/injured anyone who came near it.
As a father and grandfather himself, my uncle did a great job predicting the hazards something like this would provide for kids. Although it added to the already significant time we'd spend, we took the extra steps to lessen the potential harm: routing sharp corners, sanding, covering any exposed hardware, reinforcing the structure.
The end result is now the second best piece of furniture we own. Clio loves it and spent a lot of the sunny afternoons this year's long summer provided up to her elbows in cold water. Now that Fall has fallen, we've moved the table indoors and filled it with plastic balls and it continues to be a great toy for her to enjoy