Creating an Heirloom Toy for Your Kids, Part 2

Geek Culture

Last week I wrote about my desire to build a handmade car similar to the one from Auditorium Toy Company. I spent some time this past weekend doing some preliminary work and things are rolling. Well… not rolling yet, but you know what I mean. (My goal isn’t to build an exact duplicate but something similar in look and style, so you may notice some changes in dimensions as the project progresses.)

Birch Plywood

I started out with a single scrap piece of red oak. Let me tell you — that’s hard wood. As in hardwood. I got as far as cutting and drilling the two side pieces (I’m calling them fenders) but when I began to try to shape the ends, I quickly discovered that red oak is not the best material for this project. So I had to start over.

I found a nearby company willing to sell me a smaller 3/4″ piece of 13-ply birch (furniture grade) just like the one from ATC and recommended by commenter Jay S — thanks, Jay! The smallest piece I could buy was 12″ x 30″ for $13.99. Yikes. But it’s finished on edges and surfaces and so pretty! And I’m building two of them, so I’m still a million miles from the $350 price tag of the original.

I cut four fenders with dimensions of 8-3/4″ long x 1-1/2″ tall x 3/4″ thick. I drew a center-line down the length of the piece (3/8″ for those keeping score) and marked for drilling at 1-1/2″ from each end (on the center-line). I should note that I used painter’s tape to hold two pieces together — be sure to pick the nicest sides and have them facing outwards before you drill through both pieces. Put a scrap piece of wood under the bottom to prevent tear out (damage to the exit drill hole).

Four pieces – two fender sets

Next, I marked the halfway point on a piece (still taped together) and then marked two holes, each 3/8″ (on the center-line) from the halfway point. These will be used to secure the fenders to the center piece of wood (the car’s body) with two machine screws. I counterbored these holes (1/2″ Forstner bit) on both sides so the two machine screws and nuts used will be hidden (I’ll explain this in a later post).

My next steps will be to counterbore holes on the insides of the fenders — these will be for the 3-1/2″ machine screws that I’ll be using along with a combination of unique hardware pieces, spacers, nuts, wheels, and acorn nuts — and rounding the edges of the fenders. I’m also going to try to cut the initial shape of the main body. But all of this will have to wait a bit as I’m leaving for Maker Faire this weekend. I’ll try to have Part 3 of this series done next week.

1/4" holes plus counterbores

If any of you are coming to Maker Faire, remember that GeekDad has a booth, so come say hello and play some games, meet the crew, listen to some music, and more. I’ll be located in the MakerShed tent at my own booth where I’ll be demonstrating the 3D printer featured in my new book, Printing in Plastic: Build Your Own 3D Printer (with co-author Patrick Hood-Daniel). Come say hello!

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