Balance Scales

Home made balance scales for kids’ play.

Kids Scale

Here’s something fun to try, a set of scales made in an afternoon from found materials.

  • Empty cat litter containers (trays)
  • 1×2 wood scraps (uprights and arm)
  • Plywood scraps (for base)
  • Scrap piece of 2mm wire (as the pin)
  • Various washers and screws


Two pieces of 1×2, about 8″ high form the uprights, with some 1/2″ thick plywood as a base. Just for fun, the top of the base is a single piece with a rectangular cut out for the uprights to go in. (A coping saw was used to do the cut out, as the piece was really a little to  small to use a powered jigsaw safely. It’s fun to use hand tools occasionally.)

Kids Scale

The pin through the uprights is piece of 2mm wire with a pair of washers either side of the arm.

The hole through is the arm is in the middle but the expectation is that the arm will need balancing with weights later.


The trays on either side are the bottoms of cat litter containers and attached with screws and washers. As you can see, I did not have enough matching washers, so I just used what was available.

Kids Scale

To protect the floor from damage if a heavy weight was put on the trays, a pair of cushioned pin were put on the ends. These pins are the ones you put on the bottom on chairs to help them slide around.
Kids Scale


After assembly, one side of the arm was a lot heavier than the other. It turned out that the cat litter containers were slightly different and had surprisingly different weights.

In order to balance, screws were inserted into the bottom of the arm. Note that most of the screws are heaver brass ones, with a smaller one to make up the weight.

Kids Scale

The balancing is not perfect, but since it’s designed for play it shouldn’t be a problem.

Kids Scale


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