David Wakefield's Hungry Hippo

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Project by DaleMaley posted 03-24-2016 01:48 PM 907 views 4 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

After building David Wakefield’s animated Beaver toy, I went ahead and got his book with over 20 animated wood toys.

In his book, David said he has settled in on cherry as the best wood for his animated toys because it is light and strong. He dips the toys in food grade mineral oil when they are completed.

I had no cherry in my current inventory, but I had a few pieces of Brazilian Cherry I bought 4 years ago from Woodcraft. I thought this would be a good project to try it out. It is a very heavy wood, but worked ok, and I assume it turns a darker brown over time like American cherry.

There is a short dowel on the inside of each of the two front wheels. As the wheels turn, the dowels lift the mouth open, then it falls closed with a nice clunk sound. You can set how often the mouth opens by how you orient the 2 front wheels. You can get 1 opening per rev, 2 openings per rev, or 2 openings per rev with a space between openings.

This is a relatively simple animated toy to build. The only issue I had was that I did not follow his directions precisely, and drilled the two teeth holes at the wrong angle. This prevented the mouth from closing with it desired loud noise. I was able to modify the design and make it work, since I did not find this until after final assembly. To see my Trials & Tribulations of building this animated Hippo, see my woodworking web site.

Still pictures do not do these designs justice, you need to see and hear the model in action… I made a Youtube video:

The little ones in the family should really enjoy playing with this one!


-- Dale, Illinois,

5 comments so far

View majuvla's profile


11703 posts in 2776 days

#1 posted 03-24-2016 03:09 PM

Go for it! I like wooden toys very much, reminds me on childhood.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View helluvawreck's profile


30177 posts in 2775 days

#2 posted 03-24-2016 03:58 PM

This looks like a fun project and nicely done.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View htl's profile


3628 posts in 1068 days

#3 posted 03-24-2016 08:16 PM

I’ve made many of his toys and have his book that’s now way old.
Their great band saw projects and there’s some thing about building toys that have cams and the like that’s O so much fun.

-- Learn More About Making Wooden Models. An Index Of My Model making Blogs.

View DaleMaley's profile


416 posts in 2144 days

#4 posted 03-24-2016 08:28 PM

This latest book I just bought was published in 2014. In this book, he says many of the patterns have been in his previous books.

-- Dale, Illinois,

View SaintNYC's profile


10 posts in 1774 days

#5 posted 03-25-2016 03:24 AM

Nice job! It sounds like you got the sound right from the get go! I’ve done a few of Wakefield’s plans (seal, alligator and frog) for nieces and nephew. And I think I had more fun making them, than they did playing with them. My modifications have always been based on the axle hole size of the craft wheels I picked up at Michael’s and whatever size dowels I’ve had lurking around. But easy fixes.

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