Thursday, December 29, 2016

Cab Over and Two Trailers

I think this is the final set in the semi-truck line.  I have the standard cab, the sleeper and now the cab-over.  Then in trailers there is the belly loader, flat bed, the car carrier and now the box trailer and the tanker.  I know there are many more that I can make, but I am happy with this set.  The box trailer is pretty much straight forward.  The only tricky part is the doors and that is just to make sure they fit.  I did try in the original design to have a roll up door.  I could not get to a simple solution and there were some crazy solutions. 
The tanker is also another box, but the angles were not that easy to visualize and cut.  There are three cuts at each corner: one 45 and two 22.5.  I then sanded the edges to round them out a little.  I thought about keeping the edges crisp but then thought these are toys and they are going to be beat up. The two trailers were a quick fun build for me. 
The cab was something that I wanted to do but did not know how to make it look right.  With the two piece grill from the sweeper the cab finally looked right.  I wanted to have the cab flip up on the garbage truck but just could not make it happen.  So I just moved it to this project.  I like it in concept.  I don’t know if I like it in the toy.  My complaint is that when someone picks up the cab the chassis will rotate.  I knew it would happen and we still caught off guard a few times.  The trailers are 18 x 8 x 6 inches and the cab is 12 x 6 x 7 inches.  The total length of the trucks are over 25 inches.

Street Sweeper

The street sweeper was a quick turnaround project.  My oldest actually did the preliminary sketches and showed me.  He told me that this was my next project.  I have to admit, a 7 year old is not the easiest client to work with.  It had to have brushes and a siren on top.  I can also say that it was not the easiest build either.  There were some angles and holes close to the edge that I was not that excited about. 
It is built on the same platform as the city trucks.  The size is about the same.  I struggled with the front wheels.  The size was easy but how I was going to recess them in was a problem.  The wheels are only a ½” thick so if I recessed them to the chassis the wheels would not look right.  This is why I grooved the side panels so that the chassis, back and roof all fit into the grooves in the side panels.  This way I could recess the wheels ½” and not have the hole in the cab from the dado.  It also made the chassis, roof and back all the same rip width. The grill is something that I tried and I like how it turned out.  It is a two piece grill.  This allowed for the vein lines and a solid top.  I like how it turned out.  The back side is a bock with an angle cut in the back.  The challenge is the underside.
I will start with the vacuum piece.  This has a top and bottom groove through most of the width of the part.  This is where grain direction becomes important.  The grain direction should run the parallel to the length.  There is not much material on the edges.  This is one reason I make two of everything.  I just doubled the width of the part making more stable.  The holes to put the pegs in are close to the grooves.  The brushes were the challenge of the entire project.  They needed to be angled because they had to rotate; requirement of a 7 year old. So I came up this this idea.  I took a 12 inch piece and cut the angle in each end.  Then I marked the location of the hole to be drilled.  With the part clamped in the drill press, I drilled the holes.  This way I had the holes at the right angle.  Then I cut the parts to length.  After gluing the pieces in, I used them as a drill guide to finish drilling the holes through the chassis into the container.  That is how the brushed got their angle.  The instructions for this are not going to be easy.
I really enjoyed doing this project and it came out better than I thought it would.  I had some really concerns because my oldest has quite an imagination.  The overall dimensions of the street sweeper is 10 x 5 x 5 inches

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Year in Review

It was another great year with a lot of fun projects and some challenging projects.  Business is going well, but did not make enough to fund this year.  I did not expect it to this year.  This year I added to my tool collection.  I purchased a sharpening system.  I realized not only, how dull my set of chisels was, but how cheap they are.  This year I had some trouble finishing some larger projects but that is now next year’s goal.  My Etsy shop is going well.  I cannot complain.  I have had some positive reviews and some things that I need to improve upon.
This year’s highlights included:
·         Finished the car carrier.  This is probably the biggest undertaking I have done with a toy.  There was a lot of scroll saw work and sanding.  I liked how they turned out and I had a couple of orders for them.  The commission pieces came out even better.  It was a good way to start out the year.
·         I purchased a sharpening system to sharpen my tools.  It does a great job sharpening knives.  I have also sharpened my chisels.  I sharpened a couple of plane irons but I don’t know how to setup a hand plane so I was getting frustrated.  I will wait until I can learn proper techniques before I completely give up.  There is value to learning how to use a hand plane.
·         Finished some modular toy cabinets.  These replaced my first project that I ever made.  It was a little different having a large project in the shop.  I kept it flat as long as possible.  These are also able to convert to desks as the kids grow older.  I really liked how they came out.
·         I think I had two major learning/accomplishment projects.  The first was the airplane.  It was small and seemed easy but there were a lot of issues that I needed to overcome.  The angled wings and the sequence of cuts were two of the major learning moments.  It was also on this project that I realized I need to take more pictures of the process.  The second stepping stone was the temple portrait.  This was the most detailed scroll work that I have done.  This was a confidence builder more than anything. 
Goals I had for this year:
·         I released about seven plans this year and will have another three to release early next year.  I am happy with the amount of projects I did this year.
·         I want to finish the camping boxes I started this year.  The carcass is complete.  I need to put in the shelves, hang the doors and finish all the internal storage.
·         I did not do as well on having more kids over to play with the toys.  Something to work on this year.
My favorite projects this year:
·         One of my favorite projects this year may be a surprise to people.  It was the planters.  It was an extremely simple project that did not require a lot of planning except for the activities of the day.  It was nice just to do something simple with the family.
·         The other project that I enjoyed was the scroll saw stand.  This was a simple project especially since most of it was done a CNC router.  It wasn’t the project that thrilled me; it was the design part of it and improving on a previous design.
·         As for toys it would be a tossup between the garbage truck and the skid loader.  The garbage truck because it was a difficult design that went through multiple iterations.  The skid loader because it was an improvement to another design.  I am happy how sturdy it came out.
·         I just finished this one before posting this.  The street sweeper, soon to be on the blog, is one that fired me up to complete before year’s end.  It was designed by my oldest and we worked together to get a working design.  The brushes even move with the friction of the carpet.  Can’t wait to see his face on Christmas.
Goals for this year:
·         This year the toys are going to be either for the younger group, 2-4 years old.  I also hope to do some toys that are traditionally for girls.  My wife and I discussed that our kids no longer have room for more toys so I am going to be making some that are better suited for a younger crowd.  I also know that I have a huge hole in my offering because I exclusively made toys that my kids wanted to play with.
·         I want to do at least one craft fair.  The Etsy shop is going as well as I hoped but I want to have the experience of a craft show.  I will probably go in with someone for help.
·         From a business stand point I want to make enough money to buy some sharper tools.  I need to maintain and replace some of my dull blades and bits.