Building blocks/ I get by with a little help from my dad

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Project by Luckybear posted 05-29-2016 09:10 PM 2448 views 4 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

These building blocks contain over TWO. HUNDRED. PIECES.
The building blocks were among the first things I ever made (in the distant past of 2013). They turned out to be so much harder than anticipated. I followed instructions from the book “Making Toys that Teach” by Les Neufeld, who emphasizes that all the blocks need to be square or at right angles, which is really hard when you’re a novice!
Anyway, I used beech, walnut and mahogany (with no thought to my long-suffering dad’s wallet, eek!) and surface treated with olive oil.

I called in dad in a panic when I realized that:

- I was afraid of the table saw.
- I was afraid of the miter saw.
- My plan of sawing by hand was not going to work.
- I didn’t know how to attach the right kind of hole saw bit to the drill.
- I could not physically lift the mahogany.

My dad did come and helped me out, and we ended up having a lot of fun. He patiently taught me how to use vernier calipers and measure accurately , how to find centers, how to sand with the sandpaper on the table so the little pieces would have straight edges and approximately five million other things that I hardly need to think about when woodworking now.

Through the making of these blocks I truly fell in love with woodworking, I think it was an off hand comment of my dad’s about “these blocks being solid enough to last for the great-grandchildren” that really reached me. The idea of making something to bring joy to generations brought a new kind of pride in the work, and I am indeed very proud of the final result. None of the blocks is anything less than perfectly sanded (no saw marks or scratches!) or perfectly angled – you can stack them up as high as you like and if they won’t even wobble.
Of course now the kid abuses the poor blocks. I shudder each time I hear her upend the basket they’re in or use the long sticks as swords!

17 comments so far

View JoeinGa's profile


7383 posts in 1429 days

#1 posted 05-29-2016 10:11 PM

Nice job. Looks like an awesome set of blocks. And if the little one doesn’t lose (or eat) them, they’ll be around for several generations to play with !

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View lew's profile


11266 posts in 3178 days

#2 posted 05-29-2016 11:41 PM

She’ll learn more from these simple wooden pieces than any computer, DVD or electronic game.

Way to go, Mom!

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View  woodshaver (Tony)  's profile

woodshaver (Tony)

3939 posts in 2775 days

#3 posted 05-30-2016 12:11 AM

Now that’s a wonderful story! I Love your title and getting to work with your dad… Priceless! Very nice work!

-- Tony C UAW, St Augustine FL, My high school shop teacher said "You can do it"... Now I can't stop!

View BB1's profile


421 posts in 270 days

#4 posted 05-30-2016 01:40 AM

How great…love the story…and great project

View oldrivers's profile


711 posts in 989 days

#5 posted 05-30-2016 01:57 AM

Quite a project, a lot of pieces turned out beautifully, congratulations.

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View BurlyBob's profile


3484 posts in 1688 days

#6 posted 05-30-2016 03:36 AM

Good for you and your Dad. I’m certain enjoyed mentoring you. Your blocks turned out wonderful.

View htl's profile


2037 posts in 582 days

#7 posted 05-30-2016 05:06 AM

Out standing tale and to hear of one’s coming to love wood working is priceless.
Can’t wait to see you next project and would love to see your dads too!!!

-- There's a hundred ways to do anything, alot depends on the tools at hand.

View robscastle's profile


3320 posts in 1627 days

#8 posted 05-30-2016 08:36 AM

Well after reading the skill set you started out with I am very impressed with the results that you have achieved,
A little skeptical maybe but impressed just the same.
Now you know why your dad is never seen in the Gym!

Looking forward to seeing your new found skills at work in your next project.
Dont forget to give your Dad a hug!

-- Regards Robert

View majuvla's profile


8714 posts in 2290 days

#9 posted 05-30-2016 10:16 AM

Those are toys of my chilhood, I used to play with.Very brave of you to dive into woodworking world and made such project, even with help of your father.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View david38's profile


2394 posts in 1766 days

#10 posted 05-30-2016 11:42 AM

very nice story

View Luckybear's profile


21 posts in 152 days

#11 posted 05-30-2016 01:07 PM

Thank you all for your encouraging comments and support! This site is possibly the nicest place on the Internet! And yeah, my dad is the best!

htl: my dad doesn’t actually do woodworking (apart from that one time he built a second floor to our old house with his carpenter friend), he’s a master steelworker who teaches welding. But because my dad is superman it never occurred to me that he wouldn’t be able to teach me to work with wood.

Robert: I should clarify that this took almost a month of me working on it most days (and into the night towards the end) and dad helped me a lot to get started and came in on weekends in between and then was around a lot to help me finish, and in the meantime I also had the support of my two woodworking teachers and several helpful more advanced students (I took the course “building toys” as a filler elective and switched to full time shop teacher path the next fall) ... So it wasn’t knocked out over an evening which I realize now it kind of sounded like. And don’t worry I’ll remember to hug him extra hard next time :D

Ivan : I think this project was the true start of my habit of taking on projects that are way harder than they look :p it is a practice that lends to a steep learning curve at least, lol

View bruce317's profile


191 posts in 246 days

#12 posted 05-30-2016 01:44 PM

Love your story. Could feel the love you & your dad share!

-- Bruce - Indiana

View a1Jim's profile


115177 posts in 2999 days

#13 posted 05-30-2016 01:58 PM

fun and cool,nice work

-- Custom furniture

View bushmaster's profile


1255 posts in 1705 days

#14 posted 05-30-2016 04:57 PM

Totally amazing project, better than the best in all aspects. Sounds like you are going in to be a shop teacher. With your skill and creativity you wood be tops.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View helluvawreck's profile


22697 posts in 2289 days

#15 posted 05-30-2016 06:50 PM

Congratulations on a nice project. It’s also a nice story of a father and daughter collaborating together on the project. I know your father enjoyed very much teaching you about woodworking and it certainly sounds like you enjoyed the learning experience. Now that you have a little experience you can start from where you are and go wherever you want to in your new world of woodworking. Don’t stop learning and enjoy the journey. May you always be happy in your work.

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

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