Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Fixing a Toy Carousel/Merry-Go-Round (aka Giraffe Surgery)

I learned a few things with the last carousel I had built.  I had done a few smart and few not so smart things. The best thing I had done was cut out multiple disks for future carousels when I had my jig set up. When I went to make the next one, all I had to do was reach on the shelf and half my cutting was already done. I had also swapped out the camel from  the plans in John R. Nelson Jr's amazing "American Folk Toys" and had replaced him (her?) with a zebra. That was the transition to saying "Hey, I can put any sorts of critters on this that I want!"

I had made a series of rookie mistake in cutting out the giraffe and in how I glued the animals in place. I simply didn't allow for how the grain ran in the wood for the giraffe. Specifically in its legs. If the grain had run vertically the legs would have been much stronger, however it ran horizontally which made them far too brittle. I know... Woodworking 101, Day 1. Now, in fairness to me, that's the way the grain is shown on the plans and maybe that makes it less likely to have his snout break off but because I don't run a pole through the animals bodies to make it look like a Merry-Go-Round animal, it means the legs are pretty easy to snap along the grain. Which is exactly what happened... twice.

So I briefly discussed "putting him down" and replacing him with another animal since no way would a giraffe make it the wild with one, let alone two, broken legs. However, the owner's mom made it clear that the patient had to live. I try to keep my toys as close to 100% wood as I can so I went with very carefully drilling 1/8" holes through the legs and then inserting dowels to complete the surgery. It was touch and go there but the patient never said a word and the procedure was a success.

Now for the second mistake. Initially several of the animals had come off of the spinning base and I think it was because I had used spray acrylic on the base BEFORE I glued the animals in place. (As a certain Crawfish reminded me.. it is called wood glue for a reason.) Okay. So I left the surgical implants in a bit long so that they could become pegs to insert in the base. Then I made a little template out of some scrap clementine box wood and drilled 1/8" holes so I could line up the pegs with the holes.

I made sure that I wasn't going to drill too deeply into the base by using a flag/tag of masking tape that is just a little bit longer than the pegs.

Then I drilled one hole in the base and pegged it in place so that the next hole would be the correct distance. This worked surprisingly well... almost too well... if that was a possibility. Which it isn't.

Last step was to trim the pegs up a bit so they would fit in nice and smooth. I also scrapped the acrylic off where the feet and pegs will be glued down to be sure there would be good adhesion. All fixed and truly "better than ever."

Ultimately, this ended up improving the toy for me. On the next one I built, I pegged all the animals to the base using the same method and it was very easy and resulted in a stronger toy.

Necessity is the mother of invention but I guess failure is the father of improvement.

  1 comment:

  1. Cute toy and helpful tips for fixing toys. Thanks for your share.


Just Saying...

While we don’t necessarily need more objects, we just might benefit from more making.
- John Dunnigan


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Regular guy who likes to make stuff who lives with a very patient wife, three daughters and three cats.