Friday, February 14, 2014

A Stick to Measure With

There are a couple of things that I need to confess with this stick.  First is that this project came from a Facebook post that I said I can do better one to my wife.  I am not opposed to improving on someones design, I am opposed on openly saying that "I" can do better than someone.  If I constantly compared myself to some of the other top woodworkers I would be one depressed woodworker.  I am content with what I am capable of doing.  I know there are people that look at my stuff and are amazed.  There are others that think my stuff is acceptable at best.  It is not my place to say "I" can do better than "you".  Anyone who accomplishes something deserves the satisfaction of completing the project.  I hope that everyone feels the satisfaction on completing a project to the best of their abilities.  I have access to tools and equipment that others do not.
My second confession is I cheated.  This is probably why I feel so guilty about saying I can do better than the one on Facebook.  They painted and stenciled the one they made.  I used a CNC router.  My work just purchased one for use in the department I work in.  To help learn the programing there was some permission granted for personal projects.  This was mine.  I seriously took me about an hour to program. Three days and four test boards later I figured out the feed rates, depth of cuts and what text looked good and machined well.  Not only does the ruler look good but it is accurate to the 0.2mm (0.00787 inches).  However the markings are made with a 1/4" ball mill so the margin of error is +/- 1/8".  It was a fun learning experience. 
 On the  back I put the current hand and foot prints of all the kids.  It is kind of hard to do all their baby prints.  The board is solid maple.  I finished the routs like I did in the dominoes.  The project came out beautifully.  Now we get to mark it up.  This is one thing I hope the kids fight over when I die.
Overall I will probably using the CNC to add personal touches to some of my projects again.

Monday, February 3, 2014

My First Toy Design

I have been making toys for about eight years now.  They have always been from patterns that I have found on the web or in books.  I have always wanted to design my own line of toys but really never had the time.  There are several projects that I have not done from books and really would like to complete because I think my kids would have fun with them.  There was an opportunity presented for me to make a dump truck cheaper than what a cousin saw on the Internet.  So I took advantage of it.  I have made a couple of dump trucks in the past both with good and bad points so I mixed the two and came up with this.

This is a working prototype.  I combined features that I liked from a plan that I found online awhile back and the construction set that Wood Magazine has been publishing.  The back end is completely mine.  The material is oak and maple.  A little different from what I normally use but the cost of walnut is a little prohibitive on a prototype.  The front is basically the same as the models in Wood Magazine with the exception that I grew the width to 4 inches and set back the block for a bumper.  This is because narrow dump trucks just don't work for me. The fenders are from the Internet truck design.  They are not as ornate but they come from 3/4 inch material.  The Wood fenders are 1 inch thick and really who buys 1 inch material?
The truck bed is mine.  I really did not like a dump truck with a tail flap and I wanted it to hold something round without falling out.  The bucket is made out of 1/2 maple and is re-enforced with oak dowels.  The tipping mechanism was either going to make or break this project.  The Wood Magazine has a stay that falls down with tipped and has to be manually put back to lower the bed.  This is a major fail in my eyes.  It is all about the dump and go.  The other dump truck tipping method; well lets just say I made two of them and both are sitting broken in the toy room because I am tired of fixing them. So I came up with this method.
It is all 3/4 inch material so I am not too worried about it breaking.  The piece mounted to the chassis is 1 inch tall  which gives me the clearance to dump.  It is also bored slightly bigger than a 1/4 dowel. The bucket and chassis are doweled together.  None of the pictures show it, but there is a lip on the back of the bucket to hold things in.  The angles are there for aesthetics and I think I did pretty good with the overall look.
Here are some of the upgrades that I did to this design where I think the other designs fell short.
 I pinned the wheels in with dowels.  I do not know why my wheels fall off.  They are glued in and tight fitting.  I am constantly gluing wheels in the trucks I have made even with cyanoacrylate glue (non branded super glue).  They were also supposed to be recessed but drill far enough in one.
I doweled all the thin  board joints.  I have never had a problem with these breaking but it looked good so I did it.  It will give it added strength for shipping.
Things that I did not incorporate in my design:
Smokestacks! These are the weakest part of the trucks.  They break off leaving part remaining and make the truck look broken.  I also left out the mechanical fasteners that Wood Magazine use to tie everything together.  After finding an acorn nut in my son's nose I am a little paranoid about them.  Even when they are glued on the threaded rods kids find a way to take them off.  I used all doweled construction.
So what did this did to me.
I have always wanted to design my own line of trucks.  This would be the first.  However this is not the design direction that I want to take.  This will be a unique build and may not be reproduced.  This pointed me in a direction that I want to do.  I want to create a mid range line of trucks for the ages 3-7.  I have the group of toys younger than that and Wood Magazine has the group older.  I want to be able to make these out of standard lumber with basic equipment.  It will not have the frills of the Wood Magazine but will be more functionality than the basic set I first built.  I don't know when I will get to it but at least I have a direction now.