With the break point in my dresser rehab project (waiting for a day when I can spray the paint top coat on the dresser), I got started on my daughter’s birthday party activity. Inspired by the Grasshopper pull toy posted by Marc Spagnoulo, I decided to adapt the idea as a birthday party activity for my daughter’s 3rd birthday. My wife and I are a more of the hands-on “make it” type amongst a pool of not so hands on friends. I suggested the idea to my wife that, “the kids could paint them, and the dads can figure out how to assemble them”. She chuckled and liked the idea.
After mulling it over a bit, I decided that the design Marc had would be far too complicated to batch out large quantities of them in the next few weeks. I lieu, I opted for a simple duck push toy instead, with a body, 2 wheels and a dowel rod as the stick to push it. This project was a great opportunity to use up a large pile of pine and poplar thins or shorts, leftovers from other projects or salvaged from some Ikea furniture I dumpster dove and found. The project is certainly a test of patience as there was a lot of repetitive tasks to cut matching parts, and I suspect it will be 100% hand sanding. All in all, I estimate that each duck will cost at most $1 for the dowel and parts needed to finish the project.
Wheels – The wheels were cut out on a drill press and a hole saw. My first few wheels were nothing short of a disaster, as I wasn’t proactive enough to clear out the chips. Not only did the hole saw get unbelievably hot, but it clogged and required a lot of effort to push the wheel out. Eventually, I found cutting 75% of the way through so the the center drill bit clears the wheel, then flipping the board to finish the cut made a whole lot more sense. I’m pretty sure this meant more than half my time cutting wheels was spent on the first 4 out of 40 wheels. I increased the hole size to 3/8” before moving onto sanding…lots and lots of hand sanding. With parts this small, there really isn’t a good power tool option (OK maybe a drum sander). To make my life a little easier, I stuck on 100, 150, and 220 grit paper onto a spare sheet of MDF. Probably 4 hours (averaging 5-6 minutes of sanding per wheel to clean up all faces and break edges) of YouTube videos over the course of the weeknight evenings (while sanding) and I have 40 nice and smooth wheels.
The sand paper board
The sanded stack of wheels
Duck Body – I was gearing up to look online for a pattern to follow when I happened to spot a duck-shaped picture frame in my daughter’s room. It turned out to be a great size for the duck bodies. After rough cutting on the bandsaw and smoothing the edges on the spindle sander, I had a blank will serve as the template for the other 19 duck bodies. I chucked up a flush trim bit and got to work. Didn’t take too long to knock out 4 extras before I realized I was in the shop a little too late last Saturday night. One of the ducks is quite heavy, and I believe it is a scrap piece of ash I somehow acquired.
Still a few more bodies to make this coming weekend. I stopped by HD to pick up a dowel (glad I did, since it led to 2 unplanned but awesome new additions to my tool arsenal), so that I could do a dry assembly. I think the final customer is happy with the to be product.
Next up, cutting and template routing the rest of the duck bodies before (you guessed it) more sanding.
PS: I just realized that the dress my daughter is wearing is also handmade by my wife. It’s called the triangle dress.