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When the sun is hot and kids are bored, there's nothing better to get them motivated than a project that comes with a built-in reward. This old-fashioned lemonade stand is sure to spark some creative interest, along with a bit of entrepreneurial spirit.

The stand is easy to assemble—slotted construction means no nails or screws—it's sturdy and colorful, and it comes apart quickly for storage. There's even a bonus: If kids need to display a science fair project or perform this week's puppet show, the table works just as well inside.

• Download templates for this project.

Step 1

Overview to Build a Lemonade Stand

Illustration by Carl Wiens

This sturdy stand holds together the same way cardboard store displays do, with slots that fit into one another. The slots need to be just slightly longer than half the length of the smaller pieces so that all the edges are at an even height when the pieces are mated. The top of the stand has notches in the corners to fit around the interlocking sides. It helps to keep the whole assembly sturdy by bracing the pieces square to one another.

Parents should take on the job of sawing the slots and notches. But there's a lot to keep kids busy with this project: They can sand, paint, and make the sign. And once the table is all set up on a busy stretch of sidewalk, they can mix up a pitcher of ice-cold lemonade and prepare for the thirsty crowds to come running.

Step 2

Lay out the parts

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Using a tape measure and straightedge, lay out the stand's five individual pieces on a 4x8-foot sheet of ½-inch birch veneer plywood: the front, two sides, the back-support crosspiece, and the top.

Hey, kids! You can help measure the parts so that your parents can cut them out!

Step 3

Cut out the panels and notches

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Secure the plywood to the worktable with spring clamps before you cut. Using a jigsaw, cut out the five parts. With a combination square, lay out the corner notches on the top piece. Cut the notches with the jigsaw.

Cut out the ⅝-inch notches on the crosspiece and the top of the front panel.

To parents: A jigsaw can send dust and splinters flying. Be sure everyone wears safety glasses.

Step 4

Cut the slots

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Using a straightedge and combination square, mark slots 3 inches in from the edges on the front, sides, and crosspiece—down from the top on the sides, up from the bottom on the front and crosspiece (see overview). Make the long slots (on the sides and front) 14¼ inches deep and the short slots (on the crosspiece and sides) 2¼ inches deep.

Using a drill/driver, make ⅜-inch holes inside the corners of the slots. Cut the slots with a jigsaw, using the holes to turn the blade.

Step 5

Sand the wood

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Using a random-orbit sander and 120-grit sandpaper, sand down all the pieces so that they are free of splinters before you paint.

Hey, kids! You can help with sanding. Just make sure a parent watches you—or even holds onto the sander—because it moves a lot when it vibrates.

Step 6

Paint the parts and make the sign

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Prime the wood with latex primer on all the sides and edges. Allow the primer to dry completely. Using exterior paint, finish the stand in your favorite colors. While the paint dries, make a sign by drawing the letters L-E-M-O-N-A-D-E on individual cards with colorful markers.

To parents: Speed the drying process by placing the pieces on sawhorses in the sun or setting up a drying station with fans in the garage.

Step 7

Assemble the stand

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Stand up the sides, slots facing up. Slide the front, slots facing down, onto the sides. Then slide the crosspiece onto the back. Lay the top piece onto the stand, with the notches fitted around the interlocking side pieces.

To parents: Have kids hold the pieces steady while you put the slots together—and watch out for pinched fingers!

Step 8

Attach the sign posts

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Cut eight 1-inch tabs of Velcro tape. Keep both halves of the Velcro stuck together. Peel away one side of the paper backing and stick four tabs down each of the front corners of the stand. Peel off the other paper backing, and push a PVC pipe into each corner. Press hard so that the Velcro sticks to the pipe.

Step 9

Hang the sign

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Cut a piece of string 1 foot longer than the distance between the pipes. Drop one end of the string 6 inches into the top of one pipe. Secure it with a pipe cap. Thread the other end of the string into the opposite pipe, and secure it the same way.

Using clothespins, attach the sign cards to the string. Then get ready for thirsty customers!