Wooden Sled

Will it be his rosebud?  I decided that the boy needed a great sled.  I looked for a Flexible Flyer and they are not the same as the one I had when I was little. So, per usual, I headed into the shop.  Here are the results:

You can click on the pictures to make them larger.

The deck and ski’s are ash, the rails are cherry, and the supports are walnut.  I added a aluminum rub rail on the bottom of the skis.

If you have made a sled or you would like to make this one, I would love to hear about it.

Leave a comment on the post or email me at jim@makestuffwithyourkid.com.

Happy sledding!


One of our readers (Cullen) built a great looking sled from drawings I sent him. Here is a photo:

Thanks for the update Cullen.



Let’s make a paddleboat Pt. 3 all done

I had a bunch of part cans of spray paint around in the basement and I got rid of three of them painting this boat…

For the base coat, I emptied a little can of red spray paint.

Once that dried, I put a couple coats of yellow on one side and a few coats of blue on the other and here it is. (Guaranteed the fastest boat in any bathtub!)

The high powered engine is the rubber band off a bunch of asparagus. (Even boat builders need to eat their veggies.)

Thanks for sticking with me through this project. If you have a specific project you would like me to make or if you have any questions or would like plans of this boat to print, send me an email at jim [at] makestuffwithyourkid [dot] com. I can also get you more information on the more complex boat pattern from the first post.


Let’s make a paddleboat Pt. 2

Last time, we had just started drawing our boat pattern on a board. Now we will finish laying it out. When you are done, it should look like this picture.

If you want a full size pdf that you can print, cut out, and trace on your board, email me at jim [at] makestuffwithyourkid [dot]com.
After you have everything drawn out, go ahead and cut out the boat and paddle pieces with the coping saw.

Before you cut out the pieces, think about which parts you are going to leave and which parts you are going to remove. It is really easy to cut off a part that you meant to leave on. I have a lot of experience at this… A trick to help you remember what to leave is to draw squiggly lines on the parts that you want to remove. Be careful when cutting out the notches in the paddle pieces to keep them tight. The notch should be just barely wide enough to allow the other paddle to slide into it. If you have any question, cut tighter and sand until they go together. It will be much harder for you if you cut it too large.

Here is a shot with all three pieces cut out.

In the pic, I have placed the paddle pieces so that you can see how they will be assembled.

All that is left to do is sand, finish, and start playing.

Any sandpaper made for sanding wood will work fine but I think that one of the best inventions of all time is adhesive backed sandpaper.

As you can see in the picture, I tore a piece of adhesive backed sandpaper off my roll and stuck it on a scrap. For me, moving the boat over the stuck down sandpaper is easier than the other way.

Once you have sanded off all the pointy ends and sharp edges, you are ready to assemble, paint, and play!

Put a drop of glue on the inside surfaces of the paddles where they will touch and press them together.

Right now, I am going out to paint the boat with spray paint.

Tomorrow, after the paint dries, I will put up a pic of the boat all finished.

Lets make a paddleboat Pt. 1

Rubber Band Powered Paddle Boat

This last week, I got really interested in toys that you could take to the pool. I made a couple of these boats (seen above) and they are a blast.

The only problem was that I used quite a lot of expensive tools from my wood shop and I wanted to find a way that anyone could make a working toy boat – so here we go.

basswood board

You need a four dollar board that you can get at the hardware store or a hobby shop. (I bought this 1/4″ thick piece that is 2′ long and 4″ wide in the bin at Cottin’s Hardware.) and an eight dollar coping saw like the one in the picture and you are in business…

Coping Saw and blades

Coping saw and blades

The first step in laying out the boat is drawing a curved bow (or front end of the boat) on our new board. In my shop, I had a paint can that was about the right width but you could use anything that is near 4 inches. If you are feeling adventurous, you could also mark out a more traditional pointed bow like the boat at the top of the page.

When done, this particular boat is going to look a little like Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder.

marking bow of the boatmarking bow of the boat

In part 2 of this post (coming this Saturday), we will finish marking out the pattern, cut it out, and assemble it.

Lets make a wooden fishing lure

I remember digging in my uncle Doug’s tacklebox as a kid and being mesmerized.  I was none too fond of the smell of his catfish bait, but to this day, I still love the look of those old wooden lures.  I think that some of the lures in that old brown three tray tacklebox were home made.  It is possible (and pretty fun) to make a few simple lures without expensive tools.

You will need:

  • A 5/8″ dowel from the hardware store
  • The smallest screw eyes you can find, also from the hardware store
  • Sandpaper (60, 100, 150 grits or close would be fine)
  • A wood rasp can also help speed up the shaping
  • Paint of your choice (I like the inexpensive acrylic stuff from Hobby Lobby)
  • An awl or sharp nail to poke starter holes
  • Some split rings and fishing hooks from a sporting goods store
  • A saw that will cut cleanly through a small wooden dowel

Lets get started. First, measure off a 3″ piece of your dowel and cut it off.

Not too hard so far… Next, find the center of both ends the ends of the dowel, mark it with a pencil, and poke a starter dent in the center.

Screw an eye into these dents in both ends.

Next comes the shaping. Take the screw eyes back out, lay the 60 or 80 grit sandpaper on a flat surface, and drag the dowel toward you while slowly lifting the back end up.  Rotate the dowel a bit and continue.  The idea is just to round over the dowel until it looks like a cigar.

After you have the ends of the dowel roughly rounded, pick it up, grab your sandpaper and do as much or as little as you like in the sanding.  To be honest, I do not think the fish care how beautiful your lure is. Use the finer sandpapers until you have the lure as smooth as you would like.

Here are two lures, the one from the pictures above and another that I sanded into a different shape.

I have the lures hanging from a bent up coat hanger because I like to use spray primer. When you are working with kids, you do not need to use spray paint. If you are going to use any paints, read and follow all the safety instructions.

I wanted my cigar lure to have a fish scale pattern, so I wrapped it with tulle fabric.  This is what you might make a butterfly net out of. I got mine at Hobby Lobby.

I hold the lure by one of the screw eyes with a clamp or some pliers. Next, I lightly spray paint the lure over the mesh. After the paint dries, you get a scale effect.

One other traditional way to paint lures is all white with a red head.  The trick to getting the straight line on the red is by dipping instead of brushing or painting. First paint your lure all white. I used the non-toxic acrylics for this. With the acrylics, a hair dryer can shorten the time between coats.  I would not use the hair dryer with any paints that are solvent based.

Once the lure is all white, dip the end of the lure in the red paint.

The last cool bit of the painting is the eyes. There is a great trick for painting the eyes. I use a small piece of a dowel and a small nail. You dip the dowel (or a larger nail) in white paint and make a dot where you want the eye. Let this dry and dip the smaller nail into black paint and put a dot for the pupil.

Here is a pic of the two lures after the painting is done and I have clear coated them. You can use several coats of clear spray paint or polyurethane to get that nice shiny look and help the lures last longer.  Professional lure makers use a two part epoxy to coat their lures but I am not going to get into that here.

The last step is to put on the hooks. Poke a small starter hole about 1/3 of the way back from the head on the bottom of the lure. Put another screw eye in this hole. To hang the hooks, I like to use split rings. You can get them in the fishing section of sporting goods stores. These rings let you change the hooks easily if you break them.  The split rings are a little fussy to get on.  You can buy special split ring pliers (also in the sporting goods section) or you can just pry them open with the tiny screw driver that comes in a glasses repair kit. I will say, if you are going to do several lures – spring for the split ring pliers.  They make it easier to get the hooks on without getting poked.

Here is the finished lure.

Good luck and let me know how they turn out!