Finn has been standing up and getting around under her own power for a while now, and one of her favorite things in the world is to watch Melmo on the TV—to the point where she’ll bang on the picture tube with both hands. She quickly figured out how to turn all of the components on and enjoyed hitting the power button on the TV repeatedly so that it would turn on, turn off, turn on, turn off, until the day when the button broke and fell backwards into the plastic case, along with one of the volume buttons. No big deal, really; we have a remote, the TV is at least 15 years old, and we’ve been considering a replacement TV for a long time. Until that day, however, I had to find a way to halt any expensive damage before it’s broken beyond repair, and make sure she doesn’t electrocute herself sticking her finger into the case.

Along with the greenhouse, a comically dangerous electrical system, and a half a ton of anthracite coal, we inherited a sheet of 3/8″ plexiglas when we moved into the house, which I figured would be thick enough to stand up to little hands.

I measured and cut a sheet on my table saw after taping the bottom half with blue painter’s tape to prevent scratching, and then clamped it on the edge of my worktable on the shorter side (so that the long side hung out over space). Using a propane plumber’s torch, I heated the edge by moving the flame back and forth slowly and applying gentle pressure to the free edge. After some time, the plexiglas clouded (because of the direct exposure to flame) but became pliable, and I bent it down carefully to an angle a little more than 90°. I placed the back of a chair against it while it cooled, and after about 20 minutes I had a clear shield made for our stack of components.

The bottom is deep enough that the components sit on top securely, so that their weight (and they are heavy) holds the shield in place. I’ve since cut about 6″ from the top of the example shown above so that it’s just a little higher than the XBOX. Finn can’t get her hands around the edges to reach the buttons, and our remotes work flawlessly through the plexiglas.

I then made a second shield for the TV and this time used a heat gun to bend the plastic, which was much more successful—there was no clouding or discoloration at all, so I’m going to redo the first one to match. The final step will be to buy a smaller rounded router bit (I have a 1/4″ radius bit, but I need something like a 3/16″ to work correctly) and smooth and round the edges off so that Finn doesn’t cut her fingers.

Date posted: December 1, 2009 | Filed under finn, house, projects | Comments Off on Babyproofing.

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