|Project by SchwartzTheYounger||posted 07-18-2012 08:59 AM||2547 views||5 times favorited||16 comments|
This was a project full of firsts for me. This was my first toy build. My first project that wasn’t fixed in place (ie cabinets, book shelves, etc.) I created my first dovetail joint on this project. It was my first project that involved shaping, and the first time I used a finish other than paint. And, I think it was quite appropriate that what I built was for my first child.
I had just finished building a wall of bookshelves to create a baby’s room (I intend to submit that project when I’m done painting it), and I had some scrap left over from the poplar I used to trim it out. I was thinking about what I could use the scrap for when I came up with a simple design for a baby rattle. It didn’t require much material, and for a budding hobbyist with a small tool arsenal it was within my ability to create (although I had to use some inventive techniques).
NOTE I should clarify that when I say I came up with the design I don’t doubt that others have done this before me. But, I did not consult any plans or the internet when it began forming in my mind. :-)
As seen in the SketchUp pic, the construction is very simple. Three disks are glued together, with the center disk hollowed out to house a noise maker (I used popcorn kernels because that’s what I had on hand.) The handle is also attached to the center disk using a dovetail joint. Thankfully, the dovetail is hidden by the two outer disks because it ended up looking like something Pablo Picasso would’ve made. But, it was a real snug joint which is what really mattered for this project. I don’t have a band saw or even a jig saw yet, so I cut out the three disks using a cordless drill and a Lenox 2 3/8” hole saw with the guide bit removed. I know what ya’ll are thinking, and yes I tore up some boards trying to get the saw to grip and cut a smooth circle. But, I was eventually successful. Although, I did put the guide bit back on for the center piece because it didn’t matter if there was a hole through the center, it was going to be hollowed out anyway. When I had three pieces that were good enough to glue together I cut out the middle of the center piece using a coping saw. I also used the coping saw to cut the dovetail joint because that was the best option I had. Once I had all the pieces cut I did a dry fit testing different types and quantities of noise fillers I could find (I settled on popcorn kernels). Then I glued and clamped it together (remembering to put the popcorn in) using Titebond II. The 4th picture shows the rattle fresh out of the clamps.
Next came the fun part…shaping. I didn’t have a rasp to start with so I used an old technique I discover when I was a boy. My brother and I used to make spears for forts and war games when we were little. But, we had to come up with inventive ways to whittle the points because our mom didn’t want us to have sharp knives (do you see the irony in this?) We discovered that when you rubbed a stick on concrete you could shape it into a point. I started using this technique, followed by sandpaper, to shape the rattle. But, I only shaped one half of the rattle before I broke down and bought a 4-in-1 rasp from Woodcraft on the tail end of a Father’s Day sale (Happy Father’s Day to me!) All that to say, that just because you don’t have a lot of tools doesn’t mean you can’t create something; it’s just a lot easier when you do have the tools. So, with a rasp in hand I finished up the shaping and made the handle thinner to suit a baby sized palm. Then I prepped it for finishing with a lot, A LOT of hand sanding (this thing was basically all end grain).
For a finish I used 5 coats of amber shellac (because a baby toy will eventually go in a baby mouth) wiping it on with a cloth. I gave it a light sanding with 220 grit after the 1st & 2nd coat, and 320 grit after the 3rd & 4th coat. After the 5th coat I buffed it with a paper grocery bag. I think it turned out pretty well. When I look at it I see plenty of things I would like to improve upon, but as a project full of firsts I am thrilled with the results. I hope ya’ll like it.
PS I just had to throw in a second picture of my son (because I thinks he’s so awesome and cute). ;-)
-- Eric Schwartz (Versailles, KY), Bliss is teaching your son to use a tool.