So the requisite history part...
|FYI - Carousels in Europe go clockwise.|
Carousels in the US go counter clockwise.
This toy has neither of those. (D'oh!)
And you may ask yourself... Is there a difference between a Merry-Go-Round and a Carousel?
Short answer... nope.
Just multiple names for the same thing like roundabout/traffic circle/rotary or dad/father/automatic daughter embarrasser.
(And you may ask yourself "Where is that large automobile?" or even "Am I right, am I wrong?" - sorry, can't help you other than to say "Same as it ever was..." However, if you ask yourself, "Well, how did I get here?" my guess is The Google or The Bing.)
American Folk Toys" I highly recommend that book and have built a lot of great toys thanks to it. I've made some changes to the plans in that book for this project and I'll point out the differences as I go along.
The most difficult part of the build is getting the disks cut out. You'll need a total of three of these disks. Two that are 7" in diameter and one that is 5". The 7" disks form the base and the rotating platform. The 5" disk is used as the top of the carousel. The plans called for 3/4" pine but I went with 5/8" since I had a supply on hand.
You can use a coping saw to cut out the disks but I chose to bite the bullet and make a jig to do this with my band saw. Basically, you need a center pivot point so you can rotate the wood blank as the saw blade cuts. The edge of the blade needs to be perpendicular to a line running through the center of the pivot point.
I made a quick video to describe it:
In drilling the four holes I took advantage of the 1/4" pivot and used it to mount the the two disks together so that the holes would be perfectly aligned. I also made a discrete reference mark on the two disks so I could be sure to align the four holes with the correct corresponding hole once the disks were painted.
At this point, I tried a little something that ultimately didn't work out but was worth a try. In the plans (and in the way I ultimately made the toy) the four strings are all individual lengths. So that means all four pieces have to end up the exact same length for the toy to hang and spin properly. Four strings = eight knots. Not that big a deal but I decided to try and make it so that it was only two lengths of string, strung as big "U's." That way only the last of the four needed knots would be critical. I carved groves on the bottom of platform so the base of the string U's would be out of the way. In short, it worked but it allowed too much play with the platform and it didn't always stay level. So ditched the idea and the"mistake" is hidden anyway so no harm.
The plans called for a 5/16" dowel as the center post. I went with 7/16" to add a little more strength to the structure. This probably results in a few less spins each time it is wound up but, that was a trade off I was okay with.
The dowel needs to fit squarely into the base disk and into the top disk. The hole in the platform disk needs to be larger than the dowel to allow it to freely spin around it. I went with a 1/2" hole on the platform. One other bit of advise - Just because the dowel says 7/16" or 1/2"... don't trust it. Measure it and fit it into some test holes in scrap before you drill the holes in the top and base and permanently attach the dowel. Just saying that in addition to quality, there is considerable variation in how the dowels are made and labeled.
Here is the order of assembly I used for the three disks:
Last bit for the top was a ball to attach to the center post and some store bought "buttons" or plugs to fill the holes. I was going for an outside look with the green grass, blue sky, yellow sun and tiny white clouds.
The plans call for 1/4 dowels to go through the animals and into the platform so that it looks like the posts through the animals on a merry-go-round. While it would help secure the animals, I chose not to do it. I prefer the looks of the animals without the posts. They seem more alive. I ended up using super glue to attach them. The wood glue wouldn't adhere to the gloss acrylic finish of the platform disk.
So that was it. Time to take it for a spin. You just rotate the platform around the center dowel and the strings wrap around and then wind an unwind. It will run for about a minute. This is the second one I've built. Now that I have the jig built, I think more are in the near future.