Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The new Tug Boat

There are many people that have received a tug boat from me.  It seems to be the baby shower gift of choice.  The original tug boat came from the Making Heirloom Toys.  It was a pretty simple toy that could be made in mass quantities.  There was a couple things that I did not like about it.  The first was the wood that wasted in making these tug boats.  It was a lot of template work so the board had to be wide enough to fit the template.  The second (this was my choice) they were made out of two different woods for color.  This involved gluing pieces together and so there was a a little bit of preparation to make these. I was also not a fan of the router work.  It was a lot of passes for a good smooth finish.  However they were an easy build and I enjoyed making them.  I have worn out two templates and four router bits to make these boats. Each one is unique and does float even though I do not recommend it.  This pattern changes some of the things that I makes it easier for me to make while still maintaining the parts that I love about the original design.
The main thing that I changed was no more pattern routing.  It was a pain to set up and there was a fair amount of waste.  All the parts are cut out either on the table saw or scroll saw.  I still have the two different species of wood for color even though the oak and dark maple do not create a lot of contrast in this one.  Scrap and setup has been reduced.  I also don't ruin router bits and bushings to make this toy.  The roof can also be made out of the cut out from the part that sits on the hull.  My favorite part about this toy.  It is compact and fits in small hands.  There are a lot of places to grip and touch.  It also slides really well on carpet.

Here are a couple of pictures of the old and new versions of the tug boats.  Sorry about the color combination of the old version.  I had beech and green poplar when making them.  It looked better prior to staining.

Here are a couple of things I took away from this project: 
  • This is not in my normal scope of design. I would like to design everything our of standard dimensioned lumber.  This has some 1/2" thick pieces in it.  It is not the end of the world.  This is how I am designing all my trucks.
  • Shellac goes bad.  It does not take much to finish toys so my one pint of shellac lasts a little while, so I thought.  I ruined some measuring sticks because the shellac did not cure.  I noticed when finishing the boats, it took a little while for the shellac to not be tacky.  I guess shellac does not last long after the bottle has been opened.  So my two options are to make my own shellac or buy the aerosol cans.  I think I will try making my own.  Like most wood terminology the mixture is confusing.  Good thing there is the internet to define what is a  2 lb cut of shellac.
  • I am debating whether I need the lower cabin windows.  Opinions would be appreciated.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Monster Truck

Roughly 2 1/2 years ago I started these trucks.  I have been diverted doing other things and projects.  Mostly I was dragging my feet solely on finishing the wheels.  Literally all I had to do was the wheels.  The plans came from the book Tremendous Toy Trucks.  I have done several of the plans and they are well done.  My only complaint is the the undefined shapes.  A lot of the cabs and detail is done when it "looks good".  I have some artistic merit, but really I am an engineer and like things defined.  Overall the monster trucks came out really well.  I made four in total.  My kids get two and I am donating two to a local charity. 
 There was a lot of sanding and shaping.  The majority of the parts were roughed out with a band saw and then shaped into the look.  I have a real appreciation for those individuals who only use hand tools.  There is a trick and a talent to using a rasp and file.  I personally like my belt sander.
 There are some details that were on the plan that I did leave off.  Mostly for safety reasons.  The plans called for a drive train.  I didn't feel some dowels on the under carriage would hold up to the abuse my kids would put it through.  Then I forgot the back bumper.  Opps, it still looks good.

The wheels were seriously my hold up.  It is not that they were that hard.  It is up my ally of cut and sand smooth.  Here are my issues with them.  Each wheel takes two pieces of 3/4" walnut multiplied by four for each truck (16 wheels in total).  Each wheel was cut out using a 2 1/2" hole saw.  It was then sanded down because the hole saw leaves a nasty edge.  The table saw was then set up to make the grooves in the tires.  There were lefts and right for both inside and outside parts. So I had to keep them straight.  I am amazed that I even kept them straight with only a couple of mistakes.  With the cutting the grooves there was a lot of blow out.  I was told that these would be sanded out.  Some blow out was a little deep.  Then each groove had to be hand sanded. When gluing the two parts together I needed to make sure there was no squeeze out because there was no way to sand it out.  Now that they are all done I have to confess, I only made wheels for three of them.  The fourth received manufactured wheels that I purchased.  My wife says it makes the truck look wimpy and she is right.  I could not make another set of wheels.

Here are the cool things that came out of this build:
  • I actually made these trucks
  • I had a lot of practice sanding and shaping
  • I made a circle sanding jig for my belt sander for the wheels
  • I got a good after market miter gauge for the table saw
  • I have happy kids for the current time
This was a fun build  I really do not anticipate me making any more.  These are almost solid lumber.