Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Train Series

Below are all the trains that I have made to date. The sad thing is there is still one more train that I would like to build. I don't know when I will start it. Hope you enjoy the trains

My First Train

This was the first time I had ordered plans from a catalog and it was worth it. The plans are from Playstar but I found them on Meisel Hardware. The plans are copy righted so I will not be posting them. I made these a while back because I thought they would be good Christmas gifts and I could donate some to toy drives at Christmas. Well it was a large project to make five of these and it took longer than I thought it would. All the sets were donated mostly to family but I only kept the one for myself. One day I will probably make more.

The plans were great. Full size and all dimensioned. Most of the lumber is standard and can be purchased at a local hardware store. The wheels can also be purchased from Meisel Hardware but I prefer Bearcraft. The only tricky part was the groves for the linking pins. This was done on a table saw with a dado blade. I needed a reason to buy some more tools and I got one.

To let you know a time frame, I made these when my wife and I were dating. She may have applied the finish to these. I would consider these great baby toys. They are big to grab, no small parts and easy to make. One note: there are pegs on the flat bed to rubber band logs to, don't put them on and don't make the logs; kids put their toys in them and haul them around.

There are also two truck series that go with this train. I personally liked some of the trucks but some of them seemed a little plain. These will be on another post.

The Desiel Train

This is the first train and second toy that I made after I started only making toys. I still make other stuff but found a real niche in toys. Toys also don't take up as much room as furniture. The interesting part of this train is that I did it during an adult woodworking class. Last year I decided to take the adult woodworking class at Chaffey High School. Basically I had access to all the tools and was under the super vision of a teacher. This train actually changed my view on toys.

I will talk about the boring stuff first though. It is 54" long and is made out of walnut and pine. It was mostly scrap from previous projects. The plans came out of the Toys, Games , and Furniture book by Reader's Digest. The book has some good ideas but I really was not impressed with the drawings and dimensions.

I don't see this train as a toy. It is more of a model. I see an eight-year-old playing with this train and it was around our tree at Christmas because it looks really good. I don't say that to boast because it really is not to scale and has some blemishes. This train is more of a showing piece. Two of the cars have small ladders. The wheel coverings are thin and can break easily and the box car door really moves. The links are wire hook and eye screws. I read an article in The Wood Magazine about toy making that I have embraced. A toy is something that you take to make well and may only last the amount of time that was put in to make it before it breaks. But it brings a smile to a child's face and a glimmer to their eye. I would be disappointed if this train broke therefore I do not see this as a toy.

Interestingly enough I gleaned a fair amount of knowledge from this project. I learned how to use a band saw to re-saw wood (take lumber and cutting it to different thicknesses). A lot of the parts to this train were 3/8" thick. It would be a huge waste of wood to plane 3/4" wood to half it's thickness. This is where the re-sawing comes in, I cut the standard lumber in half. Please also note that I could not do this without being in the class because I had access to an industrial band saw and an industrial planer. This project is also where I learned that a little bit of color goes a long way. My accent wood is walnut and it makes different details stand out and the entire project look that much better. The walnut used was all considered scrap. This was also a project that was a confidence builder for me. It was fun to make but I don't know what I am going to do with it. Right now it is sitting on a shelf behind other toys so that when children come over they don't see it.

The Passenger Train

This train was made along side the train mentioned below just that this finished first. This one really tested my skills at the scroll saw (and I am still not very good). All the windows and doors had to be cut out using a scroll saw. I thought it was a clever idea to double stick tape the faces together so that I was cutting two pieces instead of one and I have matching parts. I did not realize how much of a pain it was to remove double stick tape. However I would do it again. I made two of them, the picture below shows all six cars and has a walnut roof. The one above has mahogany roofs.

If you are wondering why I make multiples of projects it is for this very reason: It is just as easy to make one as it is to make two or three. I can always find some child to give the extra to (Lately it has been for baby showers).

Here is a note on the materials used. The sides are made out of a veneered MDF which is why I am hesitant to give this train away. Some MDF contains chemicals known to cause health issues. I typically don't use MDF but I received this for free so I wasn't going to waste it. I am sure it is fine but when purchasing furniture and wooden toys for kids try to stay away from MDF and particle board. As long as the children don't eat this train it is fine and will cause no problems.

This also came from the book Making Heirloom Toys.

My latest train

This is the last train I made. For the most part there was nothing that was really complicated except that I was making very small parts. The wheels and smoke stack were purchased; thank goodness for that. The pattern came from the Making Heirloom Toys. I did however learn how to cut a flat bottom on a dowel. That was interesting. It is outlined in the book but essentially glue the ends of a dowel to a scrap block and run it through the table saw. The other way is to hand plane it. My nephew picked this train out for Christmas last year.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pictures for the Poll

I was was told that I needed pictures for my poll on the left so here they are:
1. tolly car
2. vintage truck
3. fire truck (sorry the picture didn't come out well. It is in the upper left corner)
4. helicopter
5. the backhoe - I don't have a picture because it is coming out in the next issue of Wood Magizine. For those of you who have seen my crane, it is the the matching piece

I am disappointed that I can not see who voted for what on my poll. I guess that is how it works. If you would like me to let me know I would be grateful. I am not one for guessing.

My video

I was sent this e-mail at work and I have to post it for all the engineers out there

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Grasshopper or Cricket

In "Making Heirloom Toys" it is called a grasshopper but I called it a cricket and I don't remember what I called it last. This is what I though I was going to be making for Nora (See ferry post below) but her sister Sara wanted it. It is an interesting toy that can pretty much be made out of scrap. In this case it was poplar. The hardest part about the grasshopper was the eyes. It is 3/4" dowel that should be rounded on a lathe. I don't have one so I used a drill press.

When I make more I will not be putting on the antennas because it is not easy finding glue that attaches plastic to wood. I found some model glue but I don't trust it. The antennas present a severe choking hazard if they come off. I will be making more because they come from scrap lumber and they will make great presents

This was also where I learned how to make my own wheels. Purchased wheels are still easier and better to use. To make the wheels I used a hole saw in a drill press. Then put the cut circles on a bolt and secured it using a wing nut. The bolt was then attached to the drill press and I could sand the wheel smooth. I had to do this for the back wheels because they are not a standard size.

The Bi-Plane

This is another project from "Making Heirloom Toys" book that was given to me for Christmas. I guess this is the toy that caught April's attention when she bought it, so I had to make it. All I have to say is thank goodness for a belt sander. There was a lot of angled cuts I made with a band saw that needs a new blade. My cuts were not pretty and needed a fair amount of sanding to look good.

It has been fun flying it around my son's head because he likes to track it, but he does not like it landing on his tummy. Overall the planes tuned out well. They did remind me of a few safety rules.
1. Belt sanders and thin parts are not meant for each other. It is easy to get manicures trying to hold down the thin part. I tried to sand the wings on the belt sander and it slipped and embedded itself in the dust trap. This resulted in a nice sanded half moon in the wing. So I promptly removed the dust trap and continued sanding the wings letting them fly into the wall when they slipped. It is better than getting a manicure from a belt sander!!!
2. Make sure you keep your hands clear when machining small parts. The engine cowl was made with a lot of luck, but there is a radius that is put on by a router. To do this I put the part in a clamp. It is better to loose a clamp then a finger and I still have all ten of my fingers.

The Ferry Boat: The Last of the Christmas Projects

This is one of the latest projects I have completed and probably the largest toy. This came out of the "Making Heirloom Toys" book and I like how it turned out. There are four cars that also go with it, but they are not quite done. Making wheels is a pain so I would suggest buying them. Unfortunately I don't have that option with these cars.

Just to put this in perspective the ferry is two feet long. My wife will probably point out that this is the one with the mahogany roofs. I made two. The other has walnut roofs and we are keeping that one. I was originally planning on building one, but last Christmas my wife (yes I will blame her) decided it would be fun for me to have all the nieces and nephews pick out a toy from the toy books that I had received. Well Nora was commenting on a grasshopper pull toy that she like and I thought I got off easy with her, but as we were closing the book she said, "But what I really like is the fairy." So out of the six Christmas project I had to do, here has taken the longest and is the last to complete.

I learned a lot about templates on this project. The sides were made using a router and template. The templates was made out of hardboard and I new if I messed it up I could make another one. The other way of making the sides would have been to drill holes and cut the centers out with a scroll saw. The template offered more uniformity to the sides.

For those of you who picked up that there are still five other project that I have made, I will also post those also. Unfortunately I have all ready finished and given the others out so it is going to take a little bit of time.