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Blocks and Holes

 
Blocks and Holes

I made this toy for my neghew for his first birthday. The blocks were finished on time, but I got the box done about a week afterwards. The shapes are designed to only fit into the matching hole. This turned out to not be a trivial task, but a little bit of sketching and adjustment is all it takes.

Blocks and Holes

The box frame is made from a piece of 3/4" Brazilian Cherry. I made three rip cuts to make three pieces of approximately 3/4" by 3/4" and then cut the pieces to length. Each piece has two 1/8" grooves made on a router table that the face pieces fit into. The face pieces were cut from 1/8" thick 5 layer birch plywood. I considered using solid wood for the faces, but expected significant warping from a 6x6 piece of only 1/8" thick.

Blocks and Holes

I made the shaped holes by taping a template to the plywood, then drilling a hole at each corner. This produced radiused corners to match the blocks which would also be rounded. I then cut the rest of the shape with a jewellers saw (like a miniature coping saw with a very small blade).

Blocks and Holes

The blocks were made from a 2"x2" piece of Zebrawood. I first cut five pieces of 2 1/4" length. Then taping a paper template to each piece, I cut the shapes on a well tuned band saw. The round piece had to be turned on a lathe to get it the right shape. The rest of the blocks just needed copious amounts of sanding. That includes rounding all the corners so no one gets their eye poked out.

My cute nephew

The coloring used an age old (and cheap) tradition in children's toys: food coloring. The process is similar to dying eggs, but you want to mix less water with the food coloring. This produces vivid colors that do not mask the beautiful grain of the Zebra wood. (Note that food coloring will fade in UV ... not for outdoor toys). The finish is clear urethane to protect the wood from abuse and drool.

See, it sure looks like he likes it!

 
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