Building a Bird House with My Daughter

My daughter has wanted to build a birdhouse for a while. I told her first she needed to figure out what type of bird she wanted to build it for. She decided to make a house for one of the Blue Jays we always see in our back yard. Googling Blue Jay house, I found some decent plans at the ShopSmith Hands-On website, I liked the fact they had a nice set of plans and a cut-list.

While building the house was fun, it turns out that this wasn't the best project for a six year old. While she did well with the measuring and gluing, there wasn't much else she could help with. She didn't like the noise my miter and table saw made. She wasn't necessarily afraid of the machines but couldn't even help me support the boards because she had her hands over her ears. Unfortunately I didn't have a set of clean earplugs and my muffs hurt her head. Drilling holes and using a screwdriver were also beyond her dexterity.

I think I am going to look for a hand miter box with a pull saw rather than the push style saw. She loves to saw with my pull saw and it would be nice if she could actually make cuts accurate enough to build things. Maybe I'll look for a small brace too, I'm sure she would love drilling holes.

Tools: drill press, hand saw, miter saw, table saw

Tags: bird house, daughter

Materials: cedar, glue

Creating a Male Connector

Since you're not just making a train track with one big loop, sometimes you need special pieces. In my first go at crating wooden train track I created a piece with two female connectors because that was the exact piece we needed to finish a track layout. Other times you end up needing to connect two female ends together and you need a male-male track connector. The Imaginarium tracks did come with one male-male track connector piece, but with the roundhouse only having female connections, sometimes you need more. Read more »

My Daughter's Barbie Table

Previously I mentioned that I had showed my daughter how to use a pull saw. But after a while, just sawing for sawing's sake wasn't enough. We glued some of the pieces she had sawn together to make a "layer-cake," but she wanted more. Read more »

Tools: hand saw

Tags: Barbie, table

Creating Wooden Train Track

We bought my son an Imaginarium train table for his birthday this summer.   We've all had fun playing with it and making new and interesting track configurations, but the table was missing one critical piece to finish many of the layouts -- a female to female piece.  Usually are you progress along the track all the pieces got from male to female or vice versa, but if you use the roundhouse, or switches sometimes you end up trying to connect to male or female ends together to complete the loop.  The set came with a male to male piece, but no female to female piece.

Now I know that i can buy specialty pieces either online or at the store, but I though it would be fun to try and reproduce a piece of track.  Companies like MLCS, Rockler, and Hartville Tool sell special bit sets, but they cost quite a bit and would be overkill for producing one piece of track.

On the following pages you'll see the process I went through to build the special piece.

Update: Making the double female track is now just one section of this project; I've added a new section about creating a double male track connector.

Tools: router, table saw

Tags: Hartville Tool, Imaginarium, MLCS, Rockler, Thomas and Friends, toys, wooden train