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  project  
by Art Mulder
photos: Roger Yip
illustration: Len Churchill
PUSH & PLAY
This noise-making mower is sure to be a hit

I’ll warn you right up front: this push mower makes lots of noise, but it was fun to build and kids love it. That said, in my experience, noise is exactly what all kids like in a good plaything. As they push it across the floor, the noisemaker blocks swing back and forth, knocking on the dowels, making a rhythmic “clack-clack-clack” sound. Its unique character draws lots of attention. Young visitors, as well as the young-at-heart, often want to have a look, a push and a listen. The curves, the wheels, the contrasting wood colours and the complex appearance of the mechanism all work together to make it a nice project. And because I’ve used an “old-fashioned” reel mower to cut my lawn for years, it only seemed appropriate to make a push toy in the shape of such a mower for my son.
project
Contrasting wood highlights the mower's mechanism. It is an intricate work of art

Choose Your Materials

The biggest piece of lumber you will need for this project is only three feet long—most are under a foot. That means this is a good time to raid your stash of “too good to toss” wood scraps.
     Using different types of wood for the project’s parts dramatically affects the look of your toy. I used maple for the uprights and darker woods for the noisemakers. Using walnut uprights with maple noisemakers would give you a completely different appearance.
     When you prepare your wood, leave the upright strips about six inches longer than the finished length to allow for slippage when you laminate them together. The noisemaker dowels should also be left a bit long and trimmed to their final length as part of the building process.

Construct a Curve
The first step is to build the clamping jig for making the curved uprights. Fasten three pieces of scrap 3/4" particleboard together and transfer the curve to this wood, then cut your stock to shape with a jigsaw.
     After you sand this lamination nice and smooth, fasten it to another scrap piece of particleboard to serve as a backing. Lay some waxed paper over the clamping jig to prevent the uprights from sticking to the jig during glue-up.
     Next, soak the curved upright strips in warm water for about an hour to increase their flexibility. Take three of these strips and coat them with cold-cure epoxy to make one finished upright. This type of adhesive even cures underwater, making it a good choice for working with wet wood. Polyurethane glue is another excellent water-tolerant adhesive option. Place three strips on your clamping jig, add another layer of waxed paper and three more pieces of wood before clamping everything tightly to the jig. Both uprights will be laminated and curved at the same time using this method.
     Once the glue has cured, use an oscillating spindle sander to clean any glue squeeze-out and leftover bits of wax paper from the uprights. Set them aside to allow all the water to dry from the wood.

YOU WILL NEED
PART MATERIAL SIZE QTY
Curved upright strips maple 3/16" x 1 7/8" x 28" 6
Handles hardwood 1 1/4" x 5 1/8" 2
Crosspiece cherry 7/8" x 2 1/2" x 9 1/4" 1
Crosspiece dowels bloodwood 1/4" dia. x 1 1/2" 4
Wheels birch 7/8" x 6"-dia. 2
Noisemaker dowels maple 3/4"-dia. x 8 3/8" 4
Thin noisemakers purpleheart 3/4" x 2 1/2" x 4" 2
Medium Noisemakers cherry & birch 7/8" x 2 1/2" x 4" 4
Thick noisemakers walnut 1" x 2 1/2" x 4" 2
Reinforcement dowels bloodwood 1/4"-dia. x 1" 4
Axle pins hardwood 5/8"-dia. x 2 3/4" 2

PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3

 



 

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