Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Construction Set

This has been about two years in the making.  I downloaded three of the plans from the Internet.  They were free and here is the link. Later I purchased the Reader Digest book of wooden toy plans.  It had he road grader and the larger bob tail truck.  Then My wife purchased Norm Marshshall's book of Wooden Toys.  This had the bulldozer and the tanker.  So I just finished those two pieces.  There is a Crane but I need to catch up on current projects.  I feel bad because there are people waiting for projects, some I still have to design.
The Bulldozer
Cab-over with low trailer
Simi with Trailer
Road Grader
Tanker truck
Steam Roller
Most of these are made out of Poplar.  It was cheap and clear.  However the bulldozer engine is out of a maple foot.  It was a project I was working on at work and it was a failed first article so I took the decorative profile off and squared it up.  Over all it looks pretty good.
Slow down the speed of the drill press when drilling large diameter holes.  The first two trucks were made while I was taking a wood working class.  They had a 2 1/2" forstner bit that cut through wood like butter.  I don't have that tool because I would not use it very much and they are a little pricey.  I had to use a hole saw(it can also make wheels).  I tend to burn wood when using a hole saw.  I took some advice and slowed the speed down and did not try to cut the hole in 2.4 seconds.  It was a little rougher then the other bit but it did the job.
Don't try to carry too many things at once.  I was putting all the parts back into my car to take home after some time at my parents.  I accidentally dropped the tanker truck cab and the top broke into 5 pieces.  With a little glue and sanding it all worked out.  I was lucky this time
Look at previous items made in the series.  If you look at the engine for the tanker tuck and the other two you will notice that the head lights are different sizes.  The tanker has 3/8" dowels for lights and the other two have 3/4" dowel for lights.  It was a combination of not reading the drawing completely and not having going back and looking at the other trucks in the series.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Since my last post was about the set up of the dominoes I guess I should finish the story. But first a note about my brilliant son!

He has become quite the climber in his day. There is nothing that he cannot get around or over. We have found him on top of the dry sink playing with the blinds, on top of the hutch of the toy stove, on the dinning room table standing and proud of himself, on the computer table laughing at the fish screen saver, and 0n the living room widow sill. This picture is from him climbing on the cupboards that hold his toys. My wife tried to block his path from the couch to the top, notice the stuff on the right. That worked for about five minutes until he figured he can use the drawers as steps. He really wanted those crayons.
Back to the dominoes... This past week I was able to paint the shapes on the backside and put in the inlay walnut pegs in the front. This is just a fancy way of saying I filled the holes with walnut dowel and sanded them smooth. I don't have the patience or the talent to do detailed inlay work. This past weekend I was finishing them. I started by filling the shapes with polyurethane and letting them dry over night. I had never done that before but I am glad I did. It smoothed out some of the paint lines and it dried thick enough to hide the lines left by the router.
After the shapes had dried I put a clear coat of finish on the rest of the pieces. Now for all the mothers and wives that read this blog, which I believe is only family, this statement might shock you. Yes I am finishing these pieces on the dining room table. No I did not have my wife's permission. However it was convenient and close. I did at least cover it with cardboard. I used cardboard because I could stick push pins in it to keep the the blocks from sticking to the drying surface. By the way my wife did not kill me. I also washed my brush in the kitchen sink.
So here they are. I still have to sand the sealer coat and put another layer of polyurethane on.
Now for the lessons. I have been looking for a glue bottle to use because I got tired of buying the largest bottles of glue so I bought a gallon of wood glue and was filling the other bottles up when they ran out. Well that lasted about three times before the push tip on the glue bottle on one broke off. Good thing I had a spare but that tip was also in bad shape.
While making the dominoes I needed to go to Rockler for wood dowels. I would not suggest going there to buy wood unless you really have to. They are pricey. I looked at their glue bottles and they were $5 for the cheapest. These were the ketchup bottles with the pointed tip. I was not going to spend that much money. Well one day I was working over at my parents and there was a bottle that would work on the half wall. Knowing better than to just take it I asked my sister where she got it and how much. It is a bottle for coloring hair and costs less than $2. Sold. The bottle works great and with the pointed spout I can have better control on the amount of glue and where it goes.
Lesson number two: Polyurethane ages. I have been using the same gallon of polyurethane for the past couple of years. I purchased a gallon for the kitchen set I made thinking I would use most of it. I used about half of it. Well I was going to run out so I finished the last of the sewing boxes with it and bought a new one to finish the dominoes. When I opened the new can to my surprise it was a creamy white color. Scared, I made sure I did not get the oil base because my old can was a transparent amber. I had gotten the correct stuff. It is supposed to be creamy white. The directions on both cans state that. All my projects up to this point have had a nice amber stain to them which isn't a problem. I just didn't think polyurethane aged.
More to come of my latest projects.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Drilling tip

I finally broke down and made myself a make shift drill press table. There was a couple of reasons behind this. The first was the book my wife gave me says that I need to drill accurate holes and some of the parts are quite large so I needed a bigger table than the one that came with the drill press.

A little note on a drill press: If you get into making toys the main thing you will be drilling are axle holders. I can drill a hole 2 1/2" deep. most toys are about 3-4" wide. This takes a couple of setups to drill all the way through the board. When looking for a drill press look for one that can drill a deep hole.

The other reason I wanted to make the table was to make dominoes. The original plan for the dominoes was to take and draw out where all the holes were supposed to go and then drill each one. My philosophy is that if I am making one it takes just as long to make a second. For all the math geeks that is 56 tiles and a hole lot of holes. On the other side of the dominoes were going to be shape dominoes. After about marking holes on 20 of the tiles I hoped there was a better way and there was. It is called the spacer block method. Basically blocks are used to determine the distance between holes. In the dominoes I needed to have holes 3/4" apart and 3/8" from the edge. I set up my stops which are the speed squares and then made 3/4" blocks from oak to be my spacers. The setup took about 30 minutes after all the materials were assembled. This setup is a good example of why you can always use more clamps.

This is the setup for the domino drilling.

The spacer blocks did a wonderful job locating all the holes so that the dominoes did not look like they were hand drawn out and hand drilled. They all most look like they were done on a production line. I am very pleased how they turned out.

The second part was to put the shapes on the back. I got the idea from Making Toys the Teach. They cut pieces of veneer into shapes, painted the pieces and then glued them to the board. Of coarse, me being an over-achiever, that was too easy. Actually the real reason is that I have never been very good with veneers and I wanted these dominoes to last. I could see pieces of the veneer flaking off, chipping, or causing splinters. I wanted to route in the shapes. I made templates to follow. The routers have a bushing accessory that allowed me to plunge into the wood and follow the template. I think this was the first time in 25 years this bench vise was used. Good thing my father bought it to make my 4th grade science experiment.

A couple of notes on pattern routing: I noticed the bushings for the router are set up to be mounted on a table. I was using them with a plunge router. Every so often I would have to make sure the bit was centered (or close) or the bit would hit the bushing. I also purchased the Bosch set, RA1125 (it fits my router). The bushings are saudered together. good for limited use. I was doing 112 shapes. The sauder melted and the bushing came off. Not too happy with that design. I had to use my father's brass set and reset up everything. All said and done, I need to put in the dowel plugs, paint and sand and this project is done.