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Creating Wooden Crossover Track

Crossover tracks are the most complicated wooden tracks I have made to date. I started with making a straight-line crossover track where the connecting tracks are just straight lines between the two sets of parallel tracks.

After successfully creating a straight line crossover I set my sights on a curved crossover where the connecting tracks curve gradually away form one set of tracks and then switch directions to curve gradually back into the other set of tracks. Read more »

Tools: air compressor, Colt, pin nailer, router, router table

Tags: toys

Notes from the Workshop: Dumb-Ass Edition

Maybe the cold has frozen my brain or the stress of the Holidays has made me crack, but I've done some dumb things in the shop this week.

Mold

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I found some mold under a piece of plywood on the shop floor.  What I didn't mention was that I also threw away a drawer that had been sitting on the floor.  It too had developed some mold on the exposed chipboard bottom.  After I a while, I dug it out of the trash because I had thought of a use for it.  So I cleaned it up and hit it with some Concrobium to take care of the mold.  Evidently, Concrobium doesn't work so well on porous surfaces.

A few days latter I went back into my shop and noticed the mold smell again.  I had left the drawer sitting on my workbench for several days, probably still slightly damp.  When I picked it up, I discovered mold had transferred itself to the top of my bench, Ugh!  Well the old bench needed a little resurfacing, so I grabbed my jack plane and hit the bench top with a few passes then went back over it with some sandpaper.  I made sure that I vacuumed up the shavings and the sawdust, lest the mold find somewhere else to grow.  I threw out the stupid drawer.

Flying Debris

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Tools: jig saw, router table, safety glasses

Tags: notes, toys, wooden train

Notes from the Workshop: 20101207

I've found that blogging about my time in the workshop helps keep me focused on a project.  Documenting the process as you go slows you down, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.  Slowing down makes you think more about each step, working it through in your head and figuring out how you're going to explain it.  Also years down the road when you wonder how you did something, you can come back to the blog.

It's still hard to stay with a project to the very end.  Often once you've figured out how to do something, it loses it's challenge and becomes busy work -- especially the sanding and finishing stage. Trying new techniques and products during this stage helps, but it's still no substitute for discipline.  I still find myself starting new projects before I finish the ones I'm working on.

Talking about new projects:

Domino Setter


I've been playing dominoes with my daughter lately, because they are using them in school to teach adding.  Although how my daughter's Dora Dominoes which only have pictures help in this respect is beyond me.  It's still a good game to learn because you need to plan ahead.  Once we get bored with the game, we like to set up the dominoes and knock them down, which is where my son starts getting interested in what we're doing.  Both my son and my daughter have a hard time setting up more than a few dominoes in a row before they accidentally knock them down, so I'm always the one setting them up.  I thought there had to be a quicker way. Read more »

Tools: table saw

Tags: dado, domino, notes, Rockler, toys

Materials: bloodwood, cumaru, red oak

Blocks and Marbles Set in Action

See video

I've completed all the machining operations on my block and marble set including relieving all the edges with a chamfering bit. Now I just have to sand and finish the set, which is going to take me a while. I experimented with a few pieces and just to hand sand one piece to a finished grade took me about 10 minutes. Multiply that by 24. I'm sure I'll get more proficient as I do more pieces, but still that's a lot of time.

Being the big kid that I am, I couldn't wait that long. I had to play with the set for a while. You'll notice in the video that the balls can get stuck on the bottom track. I'm not sure if it is slowing down due to imperfections in the finish of the track, fuzz on the blocks, or some other reason. Maybe I should have made the spacer blocks slightly taller to impart a gentle slope. Well have to see how well the set performs after I've applied a finish.

Tags: sanding, toys, video

Notes from the Workshop: 20101027

RSS Feed

I really hate sites that put a teaser or even just a link in their RSS feed rather than the whole post, so you have to click though to the website.  I understand the reasoning, that they want to drive more people to their site so they get more hits, but I think there are better ways to drive people to your site like offering good content.

Imagine my horror as I looked at my feed and discovered I was doing it!  Oops.  So sorry to all of you who are following my site via RSS.  I have it fixed now. 

Block and Marbles

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Tools: table saw

Tags: notes, Rockler, RSS, toys

Materials: bloodwood, mahogany

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