2019-06-23

How Do You Cut Dowels Into Small Pieces For Your Toys?

Handmade Wooden Toy Dowel Cutting Jig With Japanese Pull Saw & Clamps
Handmade Wooden Toy Dowel Cutting Jig With Japanese Pull Saw & Clamps

For some reason never have understood many people want to use a complicated jig or some big power tool like a 12-inch sliding compound miter saw, table saw or bandsaw to cut dowels. The will go to a lot of trouble to build jigs to accomplish this without throwing pieces all over the garage or cutting their fingers off. You don't need to go to all this trouble.

Pictured above is the jig I use. I didn't make this jig for cutting dowels. Originally this jig was an experimental wrench rack for mechanics combination wrenches made from big box store plywood. One day I need to cut some axels for a toy car I was building and was looking around for an easy way to hold the dowel and cut it straight when I spied this in the scrap pile. Its been on my workbench ever since then.

To use it measure and clamp on a stop where the point you want to cut lines up with the edge of one of the slots. Clamp the dowel in place and cut away. Hold the saw against the side of the slot to keep it vertical and square. Rinse and repeat. That's all there is to it.

I can cut a lot of dowels with this pretty quickly with the 20 TPI Japanese pull saw in the photo. One full-length stroke is more than enough to cut through most dowels.

I build a lot of toys from reclaimed wood, and so I do a lot of cut-to-fit on my axels. It works great for this too. Clamp it in place and cut.

If I ever wear out my dowel cutting jig, I will build another one. I already have a couple of ideas on how to improve my jig.

Click here to see my Etsy shop.

2019-06-21

How To Make Blocks For Kids The Easy Way

I made some blocks after watching my grandson trying to build stuff from random chunks of wood. The best ones (the ones he likes and the most) are I cut from 2x4s. I sanded them smooth and rounded the corners with a belt sander. I didn't use a router for rounding over the pine because it tears out so easy I would need to sand them any after routing. I didn't use a pattern or plan. I reasoned that all you need to make a basic block set is to cut a square and use the square as the basic size and keep adding to it. For example, the second size block is exactly 2x the size of the square. A 2x4 is 3-1/2 inches wide. Trim the end to be sure you have it square and smooth. Now cut the blocks 3-1/2 inches long and you have your square blocks. Cut the next blocks 7 inches long yielding a rectangle 7x3-1/2 inches. Seven-inch double size blocks may be all you need. However, I cut a few 10-1/2x3-1/2. I cut around all the knots unless they are tiny and any pitch pockets or other defects. If you carefully pick you 2x4s from the better grades, you will get a much higher yield. Make a few fancier blocks to add some variety. By request, I bored som large (2-1/2 inch) holes in some of the blocks using a Forstner bit and rounded the corners with a router and sandpaper. One hole in the squares, two holes in the double squares and three holes in the longer pieces. I cut some lengths of closet pole for round pieces 3-1/2 inches long. You can make triangles, arches, or other shapes so long as you keep them based on the dimensions of the basic square. Other dimension lumber will work for blocks. To make small blocks cut a 1x2 the same way. A 1x2 will yield blocks based on 1-1/2 inch square. To make cubes, glue the squares together before sanding. I started with cubes. I had built a project that required me to laminate two 2x4s together. When I cut the pieces to size, the cutoffs were near perfect cubes. Within a day these had found a new home in my grandson's toy box. He loved to stack them. You could put some finish on the blocks. I don't think they need it. If my grandson wants to color them, then we get some shop time while he learns a bit about how to paint. MDF would make some excellent blocks. It's smooth and easy to use. To make blocks from MDF cut it into a square and make the other blocks as multiples of the square. If you size the blocks right, there will be very little if any waste. The only downside I can see to making blocks from MDF is that they have no moisture resistance. If MDF gets wet, it will swell up and fall apart. It should go without saying that you should not give MDF blocks to kids that like to chew on their toys.
I made some blocks after watching my grandson trying to build stuff from random chunks of wood. The best ones (the ones he likes and the most) are I cut from 2x4s. I sanded them smooth and rounded the corners with a belt sander. I didn't use a router for rounding over the pine because it tears out so easy I would need to sand them any after routing. I didn't use a pattern or plan.

I reasoned that all you need to make a basic block set is to cut a square and use the square as the basic size and keep adding to it. For example, the second size block is exactly 2x the size of the square.

A 2x4 is 3-1/2 inches wide. Trim the end to be sure you have it square and smooth. Now cut the blocks 3-1/2 inches long and you have your square blocks. Cut the next blocks 7 inches long yielding a rectangle 7x3-1/2 inches. Seven-inch double size blocks may be all you need. However, I cut a few 10-1/2x3-1/2.

I cut around all the knots unless they are tiny and any pitch pockets or other defects. If you carefully pick you 2x4s from the better grades, you will get a much higher yield.

Make a few fancier blocks to add some variety. By request, I bored som large (2-1/2 inch) holes in some of the blocks using a Forstner bit and rounded the corners with a router and sandpaper. One hole in the squares, two holes in the double squares and three holes in the longer pieces.

I cut some lengths of closet pole for round pieces 3-1/2 inches long.

You can make triangles, arches, or other shapes so long as you keep them based on the dimensions of the basic square.

Other dimension lumber will work for blocks. To make small blocks cut a 1x2 the same way. A 1x2 will yield blocks based on 1-1/2 inch square.

To make cubes, glue the squares together before sanding. I started with cubes. I had built a project that required me to laminate two 2x4s together. When I cut the pieces to size, the cutoffs were near perfect cubes. Within a day these had found a new home in my grandson's toy box. He loved to stack them.

You could put some finish on the blocks. I don't think they need it. If my grandson wants to color them, then we get some shop time while he learns a bit about how to paint.

MDF would make some excellent blocks. It's smooth and easy to use. To make blocks from MDF cut it into a square and make the other blocks as multiples of the square. If you size the blocks right, there will be very little if any waste. The only downside I can see to making blocks from MDF is that they have no moisture resistance. If MDF gets wet, it will swell up and fall apart. It should go without saying that you should not give MDF blocks to kids that like to chew on their toys.

Get busy and make some blocks. Blocks are easy to make and cheap to make, and the kids will love them.
Get busy and make some blocks. Blocks are easy to make and cheap to make, and the kids will love them. I made some blocks after watching my grandson trying to build stuff from random chunks of wood. The best ones (the ones he likes and the most) are I cut from 2x4s. I sanded them smooth and rounded the corners with a belt sander. I didn't use a router for rounding over the pine because it tears out so easy I would need to sand them any after routing. I didn't use a pattern or plan. I reasoned that all you need to make a basic block set is to cut a square and use the square as the basic size and keep adding to it. For example, the second size block is exactly 2x the size of the square A 2x4 is 3-1/2 inches wide. Trim the end to be sure you have it square and smooth. Now cut the blocks 3-1/2 inches long and you have your square blocks. Cut the next blocks 7 inches long yielding a rectangle 7x3-1/2 inches. Seven-inch double size blocks may be all you need. However, I cut a few 10-1/2x3-1/2. I cut around all the knots unless they are tiny and any pitch pockets or other defects. If you carefully pick you 2x4s from the better grades, you will get a much higher yield. Make a few fancier blocks to add som variety. By request, I bored som large (2-1/2 inch) holes in some of the blocks using a Forstner bit and rounded the corners with a router and sandpaper. One hole in the squares, two holes in the double squares and three holes in the longer pieces. I cut some lengths of closet pole for round pieces 3-1/2 inches long. You can make triangles, arches, or other shapes so long as you keep them based on the dimensions of the basic square. Other dimension lumber will work for blocks. To make small blocks cut a 1x2 the same way. A 1x2 will yield blocks based on 1-1/2 inch square. To make cubes, glue the squares together before sanding. I started with cubes. I had built a project that required me to laminate two 2x4s together. When I cut the pieces to size, the cutoffs were near perfect cubes. Within a day these had found a new home in my grandson's toy box. He loved to stack them. You could put some finish on the blocks. I don't think they need it. If my grandson wants to color them, then we get some shop time while he learns a bit about how to paint. MDF would make some excellent blocks. It's smooth and easy to use. To make blocks from MDF cut it into a square and make the other blocks as multiples of the square. If you size the blocks right, there will be very little if any waste. The only downside I can see to making blocks from MDF is that they have no moisture resistance. If MDF gets wet, it will swell up and fall apart. It should go without saying that you should not give MDF blocks to kids that like to chew on their toys. Get busy and make some blocks. Blocks are easy to make and cheap to make, and the kids will love them.

2019-06-12

Tape, Adhesive, and Patterns - What tape do I use and how I stick my patterns to the wood?

I use 3m ScotchBlue Painters Tape. Yep, it sticks tight. I used to use a cheap knock-off tape that didn't hold so tight. I can't find it anymore around my local area. When I first started using the cheap blue tape, I had to use a roller on it to get it to stay in place. Out of habit, I rolled the 3M tape. Not a good idea. It pulled chunks out of the pine when I removed it. I learned that you need to rub it lightly to get the bubbles out, and that is it. The adhesive on the 3M tape is pressure sensitive the harder you press, the tighter it sticks. I spent $80 US on tape last year.

3m Scotch Blue Painters Tape
3m Scotch Blue Painters Tape


I cover the top wood entirely with the tape neat and trimmed. I don't want any tape hanging or sticking on anything while I'm cutting. I can mess it all by myself I don't need a poor taping job to help me.

Patrick Speilman talks about using tape for lubrication of the saw blade in one of his books. According to Patrick, the manufacturers put silicon in or on the top of the tape to keep the layers from sticking together. It should be evident that adhesive isn't a lubricant, yet you will not need to look far to find someone who claims the adhesive on the tape is what lubricates the blade. I'm not totally convinced that lubrication is what is going on, but I do know from personal experience that it helps keep the wood from burning. I don't use tape for its lubricating properties. I use tape so I can get the pattern off with as little drama as possible.

I attach the pattern to the tape with 3M Super 77 Spray adhesive. It only takes a tiny bit, and you better be sure of where you are going to put the pattern because you are not going to remove it. This stuff sticks tight even the edges. I have never had it come loose while I was cutting. I started out using rubber cement many years ago and tried just about everything all of them come loose but this one.  For me, not coming loose while I am cutting trumps everything else. A can lasts me a long time. I remove the nozzle from my spray adhesive and store it in a jar in mineral spirits. I always start with a clean, unclogged nozzle. I use this for my shipping labels too. Steve Good Recommends 3M 45 General Purpose Adhesive. I haven't tried it. It is cheaper.

3M Super 77 Multipurpose Adhesive.jpg


I use double-sided carpet tape to hold wood together for stack cutting. I don't know what brand it is. I wish I did. This roll of tape must be 30 years old, and it still works great. I use four tiny 1/4-inch square pieces, one in each corner. After everything is in place, I squeeze each section where the is tape in my vise. Remember pressure sensitive, the harder you squeeze, the tighter it sticks. I have never had one come apart. I've had it stuck in the wrong place before; you don't want to do that. It is challenging to get it off.



2019-06-09

Etsy Shop Listing - Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car from the Play Pal Series 573778337

Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs
Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs

I made this wooden toy car from a piece of wood I save from somewhere in the distant past. I'm not sure what kind of wood it is, but I think it is spruce. It looks like spruce and smells like spruce.

Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs
Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs

I finished the body with several coats amber shellac sanding with fine sandpaper between each coat until I get a finish I am happy with. The first few coats are simply to get rid of the fuzzies, wood fibers that are sticking up form the first sanding. After the first coat, the body of the toy will fill like sandpaper because the shellac makes them stiff.
Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs
Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs

After the first coat or two has been sanded, the toy will feel smooth to the touch. You can feel things with your fingers that your eyes can't see.

Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs
Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs
After the finish is smooth, the rest of the coats are applied to smooth out the shellac and get the color you want. Sanding between coats is not required unless you are going for a glass smooth finish or need to remove some imperfection.

Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs
Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs
I coat the inside of the windows with a brush. It is almost impossible to get a good coat of shellac inside toy car window openings any other way.

Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs
Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs
I usually do not spend a lot of time with the inside of the window opening. You can't see in there very well, and the chance that the corners of the window openings will be damaged is high.

Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs
Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs
The rest of the body I sprayed with an airbrush. The shellac I use can be sprayed directly from the can in my airbrush.

Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs
Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs
I don't always use the airbrush. I don't have a spray booth, so any spraying has to be done outdoors. Shellac, paint or any finish requires proper weather conditions to spray. I learned the hard way the alcohol solvent in shellac will pull water right out of the air when the humidity is high. The car looks like it is covered with dew.

Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs
Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs

The wheels are finished amber shellac. I like to spin the wheels slowly with a drill while applying shellac with a brush until the wheels are thoroughly saturated with shellac. Because the wheels are cut across the grain, they soak up a lot of shellac.

Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs
Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs
The ends of the axle pegs are hand painted with a brush and acrylic paint. I have special jigs made to hold these tiny parts while the paint cures. I like to paint the hubs on these cars. The bright colors are attractive to kids and adults all seem to like them too.

Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs
Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs
After the paint is cured on the toy cars axel hubs, I apply a coat of clear shellac. The shellac provides an extra bit of protection to the hubs, and in many cases, it will make the colors pop.

Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs
Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs

During assembly, I apply a bit of wax to the inside of the wheels to provide some lubrication and keep any excess glue from sticking to the wheel.

Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs
Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs

You can't see them in any of the photos, but there is a nylon washer installed between the wheel and the car body. This serves several purposes.  The washer helps to prevent any escaping glue from sticking to the wheel, and it acts as a bearing or spacer between the car body. With the nylon washers, the toy car will roll faster, further, and smoother than a toy car that doesn't have the washers. It does this by keeping the wheels from rubbing on the sides of the body, and nylon washers are very slippery. Because the wheels are not rubbing on the body, the finish is also protected.
 
Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs
Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs




Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs
Handmade Wooden Toy Bat Car Amber Shellac with Pink Hubs



2019-06-08

How to Score Etsy Tags Using eRank


If you don't use eRank this is probably useless to you. If you have an Etsy shop you need eRank.

This isn't a question. It's a statement of understanding of how Etsy search works and a system for scoring tags. I've studied every Etsy document I can find on the subject, and this is my conclusion. I can't quantify it with numbers.

If I have a tag "Home Nursery Decor." In Etsy search, this will match Home, Nursery, Decor, Nursery Decor, Home Decor, and Home Nursery Decor. They will also combine with keywords in other places in the listing with exact phrase matches ranking higher.

If I plug "Home Nursery Decor." into the keyword tool, I see, "Sorry, we could not find any Etsy or Google search trend data for the keywords provided." So this tag, as a whole, scores 0. If I break out the top relevant scores using Etsy search counts for the score and total, then I get a score for the tag.

    Home Nursery Decor 0
    Nursery Decor 15,520
    Home Decor 22,650
    Nursery 3,390
    Decor 0
    Home 69,102
    Total  110,662


So now I have a score for my tag. In this case, there 110,662 Etsy searches that matched something in this tag. This seems like a very good tag to me.

The keywords in this tag will also combine with other keywords in other tags, but I don't go that far scoring my tags. However, I do consider if I want to use some of the same words elsewhere for exact phrase matching.  For example, if I use the tag "Dragon Home Decor," I can get an exact phrase match for "Home Decor" and "Dragon Home Decor" as well as a match for Dragon and "Dragon Decor. 

You could also do something similar for google searches. I messed with it a little, and to my surprise, some search terms on Google get lots of searches that get near zero on Etsy. Misspelled words on Etsy will get 0 or near 0, but get a large number of searches on Google.

Like I said before I can't give you numbers of sales or views for this method al I can do is tell you that for me it seems to be working and the numbers give me a method of picking tags that I can wrap my brain around.

2019-06-01

Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex

Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex
Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green & Blue
I made these for my grandson more than 3.5 years ago at his request after he saw a picture of one in a book. They are about three years and 8 months old in these photos. They have survived many a dinosaur fight and even being used as a hammer. The tail makes a near perfect grip for a hammer.

I don't have any of these in my shop. Perhaps I should. They are quite easy to make and would look good made from some contrasting hardwoods, or maybe I could find some green poplar. We all know that T-Rex is green.


I did not go to a large amount of trouble to make these look nice. Ths turned out to be a good thing since the first thing my grandson did was use them like a hammer.

In the photos, you can see some places where chunks of wood were broken off. This happened on several occasions and the pieces were glued back on some bits were lost, and so we have some chunks missing. I made thes from some reclaimed plywood I had in the garage that just happened to be the right thickness. The colors were chosen by my grandson. They are painted with Behr Oops paint I got at home depot.

For some reason, that I was never able to determine he kept breaking the toy dinosaurs right arm off. After this happened several times I drilled and pinned the arms. It's been about a year since the and no more broken arms. The right arms were never broken.

Today after three years and  8 months, my grandson still plays with these. His interest in dinosaurs has never diminished, and I continue to make more and different dinosaurs for him.

Click here to custom order your T-Rex.

Scroll down until you see the custom order button. Click the custom order button and tell me what you need.

Click here to see my other dinosaurs that are in stock. 




Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green & Blue
Add capHandmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green & Blue


Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green & Blue
Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green & Blue


Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green & Blue
Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green & Blue

Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green & Blue
Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green & Blue




Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green
Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green

Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green
Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green

Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green
Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green

Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green
Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green

Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green
Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green

Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green
Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green

Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green
Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Green

Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Blue
Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Blue

Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Blue
Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Blue

Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Blue
Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Blue

Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Blue
Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Blue

Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Blue
Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Blue

Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Blue
Handmade Wooden Toy Dinosaurs T-Rex Tyrannosaurus Rex Blue