Making Wooden Toy Cars For Charity

Toy VW Bug

The woodworking club I belong to Woodworkers of Whittier (WOW), makes wooden toy cars for charity each year at Christmas time.  They have to be easy and cheap to build, because we make 1500 of them. Each member decides how many they want to make and the club provides the wheels. Guys come up with different designs. Patterns are traded and modified. There are certain ones I like to make. VW Bugs, Sports Cars, Trucks- with variations on each. (click here for a plan of one)

The wood used is 1 1/2″ thick or thicker. Too thin and the axel pegs hit each other. They can be shortened, but 1 1/2″ works great and happens to be the thickness of a 2×4. Common 2×4″ lumber works as long as it is dry. The club gets donations of cut off wood from different places. Nice scrap hardwood can be got free from places that make furniture, mantels, cabinets. We get 2×4 scraps from job sites. The VW above is made of mahogany scraps with a thin piece of oak sandwiched between to give the stripe. Sometimes I use oak, mahogany, maple, walnut , depends on what we get for free. Hardwood is harder to finish though. Cutting out the blanks is easy. Sanding, drilling the holes, adding details, rounding over the edges, final sanding is what takes the time. We are not allowed to put any clear coat finish on the toys because of government bureaucratic BS.

Wooden VW BlanksWood toy sports car


Playing around with the shapes of a car you can get something different. Cut the top off the sports coupe- you get a convertible. A basic truck shape can lead to various models.

Wooden Toy Trucks


Add thin pieces of wood to make the bed. A donated piece of stair handrail makes a tanker truck.

Wooden Toy PickupWooden Toy Trucks


The night arrives when the members bring the finished toys to “wheels and axels” night. The members get busy glueing and tapping the axels through the wheels and into the cars. Makes a big change to see the wheels on.

Wooden tanker truck Wood Pickup Truck Toy


The wheels that the club buys are 1 1/2″ with 1/4″ hole. Like these on Amazon 50 Wood 1-1/2 Inch Toy Wheel W/1/4 Hole You also need to buy axel pegs too.
Drill a 7/32″ hole in car for the axel. Piles of cars arrive at the meeting and work commences with a lot of hammering and things getting done. Each year WOW gives cars and blocks to 22 charities. Some give out a toy with a Christmas meal and others let the kids play with the toys at the school.

It does not have to be done on a large scale. One person can do some  toys and give them away. Even better, an adult teaching a child to a make a toy and the child giving the toy to someone less fortunate. Now you have something special.

Wooden Toy Sports Cars Piles of Wood Cars


Assembling cars for charity

Building Funny Bird House

Miesel Creature Birdhouse

Miesel Creature Birdhouse

I bought these plans from Meisel and thought I would review building this funny birdhouse. My bird house is called “City Beatnik” and there are two different plans included for $15. They have many “old man” type plans. Even more animals. These are full size drawings.  Here is a book by the same designer on Amazon, but they are not full size drawings except for the smaller parts.

IMG_1401Plans Funny Face BirdhouseIMG_1403

I found the full size plans useful and they include a cutting guide to get the most from your wood. It can be cut from a 1″x 10″x 8′ piece of pine or cedar. I used rough-cut reclaimed lumber, which caused me a bunch of headaches, because it was cupped. I did like the rough surface.

Let me first say  I use power tools that I have acquired over the years. I understand that many do not have the room or money for these. I think this birdhouse can be built using a jigsaw. With it use a straight edge and a protractor to set the angle of the blade for the bevel cuts. Sandpaper, glue, nails and a way to bore the 1 1/4″ hole and you are set. It would great to build with a kid . I still remember building a birdhouse with my grandfather and that was long ago.

I started by cutting all my pieces to the correct length. Using a crosscut sled I made for my table saw made this easier. Remember to cut to the waste side. Then cut to width. Theses are your blanks to cut the required angles and bevels on. I used my miter gauge to cut the angles for the end pieces. I actually cut the first end, then traced it on the second blank, cut it on the band saw to save time. Since I made mine out of reclaimed lumber and had to glue two pieces together to get the width, I needed to keep the seam centered so it looked right. This made it more difficult.

IMG_1407Cutting Birdhouse RoofIMG_1408


To cut the bevels on the sides, I set the bevel on my saw and used the sliding mitre gauge with an extended wood fence to get the piece close to the gauge while keeping my hand far away. Since the piece was already the correct length, I gradually cut the bevel with repeated passes until the bevel was completed.

I found it easiest to work directly off the main drawing. I got a bit confused how they     measured the angles, so I just used a protractor to measure them.IMG_1433

Assemble the sides and ends. I used 18 gauge nails and glue. Titebond II is weather resistant. As you can see my sides are cupped. Custom fit the bottom. If you are going to actually use it for birds to live in, then you need to be able to remove the bottom to clean out the old nests. I put a screw in each side to hold it in place. In the picture, the bottom is square, the sides are not. Drill the hole next.



Next comes the part that makes this more than just an ordinary birdhouse–adding the face. I had read about using Glad Press’n Seal to transfer patterns to wood and gave it a try. It worked great! Posted about it here. Using a scroll saw, I cut out the pieces, sanding them smooth on a 1 inch belt sander.

Transferring image with PressnSealIMG_1448IMG_1449

After I had all the parts cut, I rounded the edges slightly. I used a 1/4″ router bit to round over the nose. Looking back, I wish I had rounded it over more. A file and sandpaper can get the same results. Now it is time to attach the face. I had an uneven surface to attach the pieces to. I glued the nostrils and the bottom of the eyes to the nose first. I actually drilled two holes and used screws and glue to attach the nose. I worked from inside the house using a stubby screwdriver. If you have a smooth surface, the screws probably are not necessary. Attach the rest of the parts as in the plans. I didn’t use the ears, because I did not like them.

IMG_1453Attaching face to bird house

After the glue has set, attach the roof. I found it easier to join the two roof pieces before putting them on the house. Lastly, attach the two acrylic eyeballs. These you have to buy from Meisel when you buy the plans.

IMG_1447Funny Face Birdhouse

In the end I am pleased with the results. The plans include a second birdhouse. I will make that one too, using new wood, saving me a lot of headaches.

Hope this has been helpful. Please post comments below. Especially if you have built a character birdhouse.

Easy Transfer of Patterns to Wood


IMG_1464This is an easy way to transfer cutting patterns to wood. Instead of using carbon paper, use something you may already have in your house, Glad Press’n Seal plastic wrap. I think this was a reader tip in Wood Magazine. I filed it away in my brain for future use. I used it when building a Funny Birdhouse.

Take a piece of Press’n Seal and smooth it down on to a dust free drawing or picture you want to transfer. Make sure the sticky side is down.  If the print on the film is readable you have it right. Really smooth it down using some pressure so it sticks. Now using a Sharpie, trace the pattern. When you are done peel it off.

Transfer it to the wood. Make sure the wood dust free so the film will stick. Smooth it downIMG_1463 using pressure. Work from the centre out. The film has a texture to it that acts like suction cups. When you have it down, cut off the excess with a razor knife.

Using a scroll saw or band saw cut out the pattern. I haven’t tried a jig saw. The film sticks well, but I don’t know if dragging the base of a jig saw across it would peel it off.

Don’t forget to peel of the film before gluing up. Like I almost did.



Oneida Dust Deputy Review

Ridgid WD1450 and Oneida Dust Deputy

Ridgid WD1450 and Dust Deputy

Oneida Dust Deputy Review. As mentioned in my previous post on the Home Depot  Ridgid 14 gallon shop vac, it is great except for the filter clogging rapidly. I needed a way to pre-filter the air. I decide upon hooking up an Oneida Dust Deputy to my Ridgid Wet/Dry Vacuum. This dust separator was the solution.

Their are quite a few dust separators on the market, including one that Rockler sells. Kits are also available to make your own. Fortunately, I saw a video by Marc Spagnuolo the   “Wood Whisperer” where he did a comparison of four brands. The Oneida looked like the one for me. I ordered one and it arrived on my doorstep. The Dust Deputy sold on Amazon is basically 2 heavy duty 5 gallon buckets with a cyclone separator on top. The bottom bucket is used if you want to put wheels on it and attach it to your shop vac like I show above. Then you

Oneida Dust Deputy Attached WD1450

Dust Deputy Attached WD1450

slide the top bucket into it. This is for easy removal when you need to empty the dust and chips. Oneida gives you the parts to physically attach it to your vacuum (bolts, foam spacer block, wheels) So it rolls along with your vac. I did not do this right away. Oneida also includes a good quality  hose to hook the cyclone up to the vacuum. If you want to attach it to your vac, cut the foam block to the vacuum’s profile and run the 2 bolts between the bucket and the vac. Yes you have to drill two holes in your vac.

How good does it work? It works great! I emptied my vacuum and attached the Dust Deputy. After vacuuming up a bunch of sawdust and chips, there was just the tiniest bit in the shop vac. Like a teaspoon full if that. Good news for me, I could then install filter bags since they would not fill up quickly. Now the suction remains constantly strong. I move the unit to the power tool I am using, but usually have it hooked up to my table saw. I also use it to clean up the shop.

The unit does build up a static charge. Oneida gives you some copper tabe to attach to the cyclone to dissipate it. You then attach a wire to a washer that drags on the ground to “ground out” the charge. I did get a good jolt one time, though not exactly sure how. Regardless, I am very happy with this product and would buy it again.

Oneida Dust Deputy Dust collection bucket

Dust Deputy Dust collection

Ridgid WD1450 Wet/Dry Vac Review

Ridgid WD1450











This is my review of the Ridgid WD1450 wet/dry vacuum. I was tired of the dust coming from all my power tools and flying all over the garage. I did not want to pay for a shop dust collection system, so I decided to get a good shop vac and see what it could do. I settled on one from Home Depot after reading many reviews. The Ridgid WD1450 is about $100 and gets you a well built, 14 gallon, relatively quite, powerful wet/dry vacuum. It comes with a hose, 2 wands, a surface cleaner attachment, and a bag that carries attachments on the vac. There are many additional attachments available at Home Depot. I like that it comes with a long power cord. I have been happy with all  the Ridgid products I have purchased.

This thing is powerful. Keep small children and pets away when using! OK that is a joke, but it is strong. I needed a lot of suction because I wanted to use it on shop tools like a table saw. It does the job with my table saw. It doesn’t get all the dust, because my saw isn’t designed for efficient dust collection, but it really helps keep the small stuff out of the air. I think it is a real bargain for the price.

The one complaint I have with it, is the suction is so strong, it lifts most of the collected dust into the pleated filter instead of leaving it on the bottom of the vac chamber. This clogs the filter quickly cutting down on the suction. I hate cleaning filters and I had to do it often. Home Depot does sell bags to use with this vac. They work well and the suction doesn’t fall as quickly with them. With as much saw dust that I collect, this can get expensive real quick. So I found a solution I will share in my next post. Dust Deputy

Ridgid WD1450 Filter Bags

Ridgid WD1450 Pleated Filter and Filter Bags

Kreg Rip-Cut Review

Kreg Rip-Cut Circular saw Cutting GuideOver the years I have had trouble with handling full sheets of plywood. Cutting them down to size is necessary. They are too heavy and big for my table saw, as it may be tipped over. I needed a safe way to rip them down to size. I was glad to see a you tube video where the Kreg KMA2675 Kreg Rip-Cut
was being used. The Rip Cut looked like it would solve my problem. I ordered it from Amazon.

Using my plywood cutting table with a circular saw worked well. The table supports the plywood while using a cutting guide. You can use a straight edge (a straight board will work) to guide the saw while ripping. It works OK, but it takes awhile to set up for each cut. It has to be determined how far the blade is from the edge of the “shoe” that the straight edge will rub against. Add this to the dimension that has to be cut. If it is two inches from the blade to the edge of the saws shoe, and you want to cut a 24″ strip, the straight edge has to be clamped down at 26 inches. Don’t forget about the 1/8th inch the saw blade kerf takes up too.

Using the Rip-Cut, all this is done automatically. It can rip up to 24 inches. It clamps to your circular saw using two clamps. After it is assembled the first time, iSetting Kreg Rip Cutt can be removed and reattached quickly.  I would re-zero the pointer each time though. This is easily done by sliding the Rip Cut’s edge guide up against the saw blade and adjusting the measuring pointer to zero.  Be advised that you do have to assemble the Rip Cut and adjust it to your model of saw the first time. Just snug down the clamps. They have pointed tips to grab on to the saws plate. It can be adjusted for right or left handers.To adjust the cutting width, just pull up on the grey lever and slide to the desired measurement. Push the lever down to lock.

Using Kreg Rip-Cut Plywood

Place the edge guide against the panel you wish to cut. Start the saw and cut keeping the edge guide firmly against the edge. I hold and push the saw with my right hand, while pushing the guided against the edge with my left. I have the plywood slightly over hanging the table so it doesn’t interfere with the edge guide. The guide is a little thicker than 1/2 inch.

 It works best for long rips. For shorter cuts it doesn’t work well, as the guide edge is not long enough. Kreg does sell a tool for crosscuts, but I do not have it. I use a cross-cut sled on my table saw. You can make a cross-cut guide easily. If I see a good plan I will post it.

I am quite happy with my purchase of the Rip-Cut. It allows me to quickly cut down plywood to a workable size. The only complaint I have- I wish the cutting guide was a bit longer. As you get to the end of a cut, the guide stops supporting the cut before the blade is all the way through. I have to learn to “follow through” with the cut. It hasn’t been a problem. I do my finish cuts on a table saw . If you don’t have a table saw, you could use this with a cross-cut guide to make shelves and simple cabinets.

If you are interested, please use my Amazon link to look at the Kreg KMA2675 Kreg Rip-Cut. It doesn’t cost you anything and helps pay for my web-hosting.

Cutting with Kreg Rip-Cut


Wooden Hat Stand

Straw Hat on Stand

DIY Wooden Hat StandDIY wooden hat stand? Yes you can! I was asked to make hat stands out of wood as a Christmas present. They were to be made different heights so they could be put on a closet shelf. Hats with brims could be put closer together as the brims would not touch each other, because they are at different heights.

Simply made out of 15mm (9/16″) baltic birch ply. 2 disks- 4″ top and 7″ bottom with a 3/4″ dowel center.

Start by cutting the disks. I have a bandsaw and made a circle cutting jig inspired by one I saw on youtube. You can use a jigsaw, if that is what you have. Easiest on a bandsaw to cut out square blanks to start. With a jigsaw, cut to the circle you have drawn. Mark the center of the circle to make it easier to drill the dowel hole.Circle Cutting Band SawCutting Disk on BandsawBandsaw circle cutting

Hopefully the edges are relatively smooth. Use sandpaper to get them smoother. Sand the dowel too.  To round over the edges I used a 1/4″ round over bit in a router mounted in a table. Rounding over both sides. Sand both faces.

Router TableIMG_1351IMG_1353

Measure the diameter of the dowel you have. Sometimes they vary. Drill a hole for a snug fit. I used a Forstner bit to make a smooth bottomed hole half way through. You can drill all the way through using a spade bit (cheaper).  I finished them using water based polyurethane taking care not to get it in the holes. Apply the finish to the dowel before cutting it up.

Bases and tops for hat standIMG_1354


Cut the dowel to the lengths you need. I found a friction fit worked fine. Put your hat on the stand. Smile, because the brim of your fedora is protected.

Hatstand done