Author Topic: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards  (Read 48155 times)

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Offline Frank Pellow

  • Posts: 2748
  • Toronto, Ontario and Lake Pivabiska, Ontario
This is very much an ongoing project.  My grandchildren Isla and Ethan have built some parts any we have lots of ideas for additional parts.  As usual, I will write this by extracting notes from my journal.

8 July 2007:

Isla, my 7 year old granddaughter, is very interested in the construction of buildings and, while she and I were sitting in our refurbished garden this week, it struck both of us that she could use the old cedar boards from the fence that I recently tore down to make "forts", "playhouses" and other such structures. We put together a quick prototype in the shop and it worked.  Here is a photo of a portion of the fence taken earlier this spring before I tore it down:

34504-0
 
The fence is 33 years old and the boards are cedar. They are in reasonably good shape.

I decided to make a 'construction kit' of parts that could be put up and torn down at will. The basic idea for the parts comes from my Pan Abode cedar cabin that I assembled on Pellow's Island thirty one years ago.  Thirty three years has resulted in some wear and tear and there are some cracks, missing knots, and nail holes, so I decided to glue and screw two boards together to make the parts. The boards were planed on one side then glued with waterproof glue and clamped:
    
34506-1   34508-2   34510-3

Next the boards were planed on the exterior to a uniform depth (32 mm), to a uniform width (130 mm), and to one of several "standard" lengths. Then, two or four notches (depending on the part) were cut into each part using a jig saw. Depending on the parts, one to three stainless steel screws were inserted. The notches are 38mm wide which gives some play allowing children to easily put them together and take them apart.
 
34512-4

The next steps were:
  • 1)   to fill various holes in the part with Bondo auto body filler  
  • 2)   round all the edges with round-over bit  
  • 3)   sand it then  
  • 4)   paint each board with a couple of coats of spar varnish

But I have not yet done steps 2,3, and 4. Here is a photo of a typical part:
 
34514-5

Here are the parts that have been produced so far:
 
34516-6

And here they are assembled into a couple of typical configurations:
 
34518-7   34520-8

I need to make a LOT more of the parts that have already been designed and Isla and I have to design something for windows, doors, and the roof.


9 July 2007 (From Art Mulder):

I started a thread on this topic on the Canadian Woodworking forum and Art Mulder made this suggestion for a roof:

As for the roof... that's an interesting idea. I'm assuming you are looking for play value, and not serious weather protection. As well, a large solid roof would be too heavy for a 7 year old, and would also darken the interior.

How about something like this... just make a gable board, and put angled notches in it. And then Isla can just slip in the regular wall boards to make a roof, which is still open, light, and airy.


34522-9

My response to Art was:
Thanks Art, I showed Isla your drawings and she said that they were "neat". We cut a cardboard "prototype" of a top board at the gable ends and tried it out:
 
34524-10

The rafters are the same as the half long logs. I want to minimize the different pieces in the "kit" and these work well for both purposes.


10 July 2007:

OK, I have now made two top wall pieces for the gable ends and attached are a couple of pictures of them being tested:

 34526-11

The gable end pieces are made from overlapping fence pieces in order to obtain the additional width needed.  Also, my next door neighbours gave me some acrylic panels which I will (somehow?) frame to close in the roof should that be wanted:

34528-12

11 July 2007:

Now back to the more mundane routing and sanding of the parts that have been cut so far:
  
34530-13    34532-14


15 July 2007:

Early this week, my Delta 15 inch 240 volt planer started to trip its 20 amp circuit breaker. I am not sure what the problem is and, thanks to Rick Thom, I can put off solving it until later. Rick knew that I wanted to get sufficient parts made this week so that some interesting structures can be built. I am leaving Toronto in a couple of days to go to our camp in Northern Ontario and I want to take the log kit with me. Tuesday morning about 8:30 Rick Thom arrived unannounced with his DeWalt 13 inch portable planer. I made good use of it during the rest of the week:
 
34547-15

I made a lot more of the same parts shown earlier. In addition, Isla and I designed windows and doors. I made two windows and one door frame. Both the window and door frames are the same width and are used in the middle of a wall with the short wall pieces stacked on each side and embedded in the envelope formed by the frame. Below are a couple of pictures showing a window under construction.

First acrylic is installed in slots cut into the frame:
 
34549-16

Then, molding is glued and screwed on all four edges of both side of the frame, forming and envelope that will surround a portion of the adjacent logs:
 
34551-17

The space between the molding is slightly (about 5mm) wider than the logs so that the window can easily be put in place and subsequently removed by children.  The following series of three pictures shows a (very low) wall with a window being built:

34553-18  34555-19   34557-20

Observe the log above the widow. It does not appear very well in this photo but the log has been decorated by Ethan. I plan to have each of my five grandchildren decorate one or two logs. The decorated log has also had one coat of Spar Urethane applied over the drawing. All the logs will eventually have Spar Urethane applied.

A similar approach was used to build a door frame:

34559-21

The door frame has a built-in sill that fits over the half log below and rests on the ground. We have yet to design a door. It must be something that a child can easily install into the frame and remove from the frame.  I have seen some ?lift on and off? hinges at Lee Valley that I know will do the job.


17 July 2007:

Margaret and I are leaving for Pellow's Island north of Hearst Ontario tomorrow morning and I just packed all the parts made so far into the trailer:

34561-22

They leave a lot of room for my tools and other stuff. There are sufficient parts to construct a small building with two windows, a door and a roof. Sometime in the future, I will make at least as many parts again and then we will be able to make some really interesting structures.


22 July 2007:

We are now at Pellow's Camp.

I thought that I had manufactured sufficient pieces back in Toronto to build something interesting but, when I assembled the part in the play-yard at camp, I found that I had not done so.

34573-23

I wanted to have a fuller set for my grandchildren Isla and Ethan when they arrive in August so decided maybe I would build some after I completed last years dock project.   I can tell you that the adult visitors we are having at camp for the first week or so are really enthusiastic about the project. Lorna, my sister-in-law, seriously thought that I should market it and was persistent in this assertion. I told Lorna (and others) that at the rate I build things I would quickly go broke and that she or anyone else was quite at liberty to copy my ideas. Also, I used free scrap wood and paying for the wood would, I believe, put the price out of most folks reach.

29 July 2007:

I decided to make 9 logs for the log construction kit out of three 16 foot 2x6s from the reserve lumber pile:
 
34575-24

This is the large reserve store of pressure treated spruce wood that I keep on hand for projects that come up from time to time because I want to minimize the trips to town for supplies. Every few years, I get in a large stock of wood on spec. The wood is o good quality and seems to last well in spite of the ad-hoc way in which I store it. The wood that I picked is nice and straight with some small tight knots. It is quite a bit heavier than the cedar but I think that most children should still be able to manage the logs ?particularly if they are placed near the bottom of structures and I will encourage that practice. Here are some photos showing some steps taken to prepare the logs:

01) Planing to desired thickness:

34577-25

02) Trimming to desired width:

34579-26

03) Cutting to desired length:

34581-27

04) Cutting notches with jig saw:

34583-28

05) Rounding the edges:

34585-29

06) Sanding:

34587-30

The notches had to be sanded by hand.

07) Painting:

34589-31

The paint that I used is so old that it was still sold in 4 litre cans (from the good old days when we succumbed to soft conversion of US gallons for our paint). It has survived freezing and thawing for at least 15 winters but it still works well. I love Tremclad paint!

I also painted the door frame and a few of the cedar pieces green in order to be able to build a house with a green foundation and trim. I tried the logs out and I think that the green foundation looks very good!

34591-32

That worked so well that I decided to make a number of different pieces from wood that I salvaged from our old dock. That wood, too, was pressure treated spruce. There was enough scrap to make 15 of the pieces shown in the picture below as well as a few miscellaneous smaller pieces.

34593-33

These, too, were painted green.


3 August 2007:

Today, I finally finished sanding the cedar log pieces and getting one coat of spar urethane applied. This was none too soon for Isla and Ethan?s arrival on Saturday. Here I am sanding all the notches by hand:

34595-34

Here are some freshly varnished parts drying in the sun:  

34597-35

I love the colour variations that one gets with old cedar.


Aug 5 2008:

I constructed a typical building for the children to discover upon their arrival and they certainly were surprised:

34599-36  34601-37

But, they did not show as much interest as I hoped for. I expected that they would want to tear it down right away and build something else, but they simply looked at what had already been built.


9 Aug 2008:

A few days after their arrival at camp, Isla and Ethan finally got around to building something of their own with the logs. They decided that it would be good to build something on the deck rather than in the play-yard and spent considerable time taking apart the structure that I had build, carrying the pieces down to the deck and neatly arranging them their by type and colour. This was entirely their doing ?I helped but did not organize the task. Both Isla and Ethan required some instruction when assembling their own building, but not very much instruction and they both remembered well. Here are a few pictures of their activities:

34603-38   34605-39

I had not anticipated that the children would want to build furniture, but they did. They used some log parts and well as some other wood that was lying around and even borrowed some dish towels for table cloths and curtains.  And then they invited both me and Kathleen (their mother and my daughter) to visit them in their house:

34607-40    34609-41

It turns out that I need not have worried about their interest. I should have remembered just how many great competing activities that children have at Pellow?s Camp. After all, I did spend a great deal of my childhood here.   [big grin]


12 Aug 2007:

We are leaving camp tomorrow and I will take the logs back to Toronto.  Here they are packed into the boat and ready for the first leg of the trip:
  
34611-42


2 Dec 2007:

No, I have not yet done any more work on the logs.   Rather, this entry is to report continued use.

Last Friday, Ethan had the day off school and spent the day with us. He wanted to build a cabin, but it wasn't very nice outside, so he asked if we could build one in our basement recreation room. I figured that was a good idea so we moved all the parts of the kit inside.  Ethan had another idea and that was to build a deck outside the cabin. Here he is sitting proudly on that deck:

34613-43


29 March 2008:

Over the last couple of weeks while Isla and Ethan were visiting we have spent considerable time in the shop.  They are both working on extensions that they want to make to the life size log building kit.  Isla is interested in the internals and wants to make furniture.  To that end, we designed and built this folding table together:
      
34615-44  34617-45  34619-46  34621-47

If course, it has been constructed from left over and restored wood.

Ethan has ideas for the additional parts he needs to build a castle with, among other things, a crane.  Here is our start on that crane:

34623-48 


20 April 2008:

I got a start on converting another bunch of old fence boards to play building logs.  To the right is a picture of a big stack of boards planed on one side with a pair of boards in the background being glued together.

34625-49


Looking to the Future:
I will post further progress in this thread as progress is made.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2011, 08:47 PM by Frank Pellow »
Cheers,   
               Frank (Festool connoisseur)

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Offline Matthew Schenker

  • Posts: 2620
Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2008, 07:56 AM »
Frank,
Amazing on all fronts -- the idea, the fun of it, the connection with the kids, and the way you explained it all!
Keep going man!
Matthew
FOG Designer and Creator

Offline Festool USA

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Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2008, 08:37 AM »
What an innovative way to recycle old building materials. Very nicely done, Frank!  I would have liked one of those kits when I was a kid :D

Offline patrick anderson

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Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2008, 09:43 AM »
Well done mate....great idea!
patrick anderson
www.neoshed.com
may the festool be with you.....always

Offline Roger Savatteri

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Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2008, 09:56 AM »
Dear Dad of the year..........

Beautiful Frank.......

great reading first thing in the morning.
Los Angeles, California

Offline Dovetail65

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Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2008, 10:08 AM »
Nice work Frank, reminds of my Lincoln Logs when I was a kid!

Nickao
The one who says it can't be done should avoid interrupting the person doing it.

Offline Scott W.

  • Posts: 333
Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2008, 03:20 PM »
Frank

Great Idea and Great Job!

Will you adopt me? :D

Scott W.
PA, USA

Offline Frank Pellow

  • Posts: 2748
  • Toronto, Ontario and Lake Pivabiska, Ontario
Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2008, 07:46 AM »
Michael,  Shane,  neoshed, monte, Nick, and Scott, I thank you your responses.  The appreciative reaction that we have received from others when they see and/or read about this kit, makes this project even more rewarding for Isla, for Ethan, and for me.

Speaking for myself, I have enjoyed this project more than any other since my retirement five years ago (is it 5 years already?  ???).  The only one that comes close is the planning and building of my workshop.  This project contains so many enjoyable aspects:

  • I get to work with children on the planning and building.
  • There is always something new that we can dream about and experiment with.
  • I (mostly) get to work outside when making the parts.
  • I have been able to do a lot of this project at the best place in the world:  Pellow's Island.
  • It's a fun project to write about and to talk about.
  • I get to play with children once things have been built
.


« Last Edit: May 25, 2008, 09:01 PM by Frank Pellow »
Cheers,   
               Frank (Festool connoisseur)

Offline greg mann

  • Posts: 1880
Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2008, 08:36 AM »
Frank, I nominate you for North America's GrandPa. This title used to the property of Will Geer from the Waltons.  ;D
Greg Mann
Oakland, Michigan

Offline Dovetail65

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Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2008, 11:11 AM »
This project, Charles desk and Eiji's Doors are my top three, with Eiji a little ahead. Bill Wyko is in there somewhere with his amazing vases and boxes too..

Anyone want to convince me otherwise?

Nickao
The one who says it can't be done should avoid interrupting the person doing it.

Offline Per Swenson

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Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2008, 01:38 PM »
Frank,


Darn fine, noble even.

Any project in my book, built outa love trumps all.

Period.

heck, all I ever make is excuses in this department.

Bravo.
Party like its 1929. It's the American way.


There outta be a law banning sesquipedalianism on

internet forums.

www.swensonz.com

Offline greg mann

  • Posts: 1880
Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2008, 01:46 PM »
This project, Charles desk and Eiji's Doors are my top three, with Eiji a little ahead. Bill Wyko is in there somewhere with his amazing vases and boxes too..

Anyone want to convince me otherwise?

Nickao

Well it looks like Charles has two serious entries with his bookcase thrown in. I do think Eiji's project is more attainable for us mortals than first impressions would indicate; precisely because he has posted so much useful info on how he attained them himself.
Greg Mann
Oakland, Michigan

Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 4450
Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2008, 02:43 PM »
Michael,  Shane,  neoshed, monte, Nick, and Scott, I thank you your responses.  The appreciative reaction that we have received from others when they see and/or read about this kit, makes this project even more rewarding for Isla, for Ethan, and for me.

Speaking for myself, I have enjoyed this project more than any other since my retirement five years ago (is it 5 years already?  ???).  The only one that comes close is the planning and building of my workshop.  This project contains so many enjoyable aspects:

  • I get to work with children on the planning and building.
  • There is always something new that we can dream about and experiment with.
  • I (mostly) get to work outside when making the parts.
  • I have been able to do a lot of this project at the best place in the world:  Pellow?s Island.
  • It's a fun project to write about and to talk about.
  • I get to play with children once things have been built
.


Frank, since you already thanked me (by mistake) I better get caught up and congratulate you for this wonderful project. You really know how to keep busy in a good way.

Offline Frank Pellow

  • Posts: 2748
  • Toronto, Ontario and Lake Pivabiska, Ontario
Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2008, 09:02 PM »
Michael,  Shane,  neoshed, monte, Nick, and Scott, I thank you your responses.  The appreciative reaction that we have received from others when they see and/or read about this kit, makes this project even more rewarding for Isla, for Ethan, and for me.

Speaking for myself, I have enjoyed this project more than any other since my retirement five years ago (is it 5 years already?  ???).  The only one that comes close is the planning and building of my workshop.  This project contains so many enjoyable aspects:

  • I get to work with children on the planning and building.
  • There is always something new that we can dream about and experiment with.
  • I (mostly) get to work outside when making the parts.
  • I have been able to do a lot of this project at the best place in the world:  Pellow?s Island.
  • It's a fun project to write about and to talk about.
  • I get to play with children once things have been built
.


Frank, since you already thanked me (by mistake) I better get caught up and congratulate you for this wonderful project. You really know how to keep busy in a good way.
Thanks Michael. 

And, I am sorry for substituting another name for your name Matthew -I really appreciate what you said and there is no excuse for getting your name wrong.  :-[
Cheers,   
               Frank (Festool connoisseur)

Offline Frank Pellow

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  • Toronto, Ontario and Lake Pivabiska, Ontario
Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2008, 09:05 PM »
Frank,


Darn fine, noble even.

Any project in my book, built outa love trumps all.

Period.

heck, all I ever make is excuses in this department.

Bravo.
Per, it appears that you really understand how I feel about this project.  Thanks for expressing it so well.
Cheers,   
               Frank (Festool connoisseur)

Offline Frank Pellow

  • Posts: 2748
  • Toronto, Ontario and Lake Pivabiska, Ontario
Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #15 on: May 15, 2008, 09:08 PM »
This project, Charles desk and Eiji's Doors are my top three, with Eiji a little ahead. Bill Wyko is in there somewhere with his amazing vases and boxes too..

Anyone want to convince me otherwise?

Nickao
Nick, that's elite company you are placing this project in.  Thanks!

And, good luck to all of us.
Cheers,   
               Frank (Festool connoisseur)

Offline Frank Pellow

  • Posts: 2748
  • Toronto, Ontario and Lake Pivabiska, Ontario
Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2008, 09:11 PM »
Frank, I nominate you for North America's GrandPa. This title used to the property of Will Geer from the Waltons.  ;D
That's quite an honour you are nominating me for Greg.  Being a granddad is a great privilege and I never forget that.
Cheers,   
               Frank (Festool connoisseur)

Offline Paul Franklin

  • Posts: 157
Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2008, 12:16 AM »
Frank

That is a great house, Looks like the one I built my boys when they were younger.


Good Job

Paul

Offline Frank Pellow

  • Posts: 2748
  • Toronto, Ontario and Lake Pivabiska, Ontario
Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2008, 07:22 AM »
Thanks Paul.

You are the first person I have encountered who has built anything similar; but I knew that there must be someone who had done so.   Did your boys use the "kit" to build objects other than the house?  Did you build any kit parts not shown in the photo?  How did the roof parts stay on?
Cheers,   
               Frank (Festool connoisseur)

Offline Paul Franklin

  • Posts: 157
Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #19 on: May 16, 2008, 10:27 AM »
Frank

The stayed on with Velcro. I have also sold a few of these and I have made flower boxes and shelves. No they really did not build other things out of it that I can remember.

Paul

Offline Timmy C

  • Posts: 462
Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #20 on: May 19, 2008, 07:38 AM »
Frank, what an outstanding project.  I hate to say this in lieu of the Karma Gods but; I can't wait to have grand-kids.  Once again, if the karma gods are listening, allow me to stipulate my time frame.  Having a 15, going on 16 year old son, I would like to wait at least 10 years please.  By waiting, this will allow me to prepare many projects.

Frank that cabin is awestome.  I bet Isla and Ethan are as happy as.....grand-kids in their own home.

Very nice, you should be very proud of them,

Tim

Offline woodshopdemos

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Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #21 on: May 19, 2008, 08:39 AM »
Frank,
   You are amazing. And what a great gandfather you are. I have just one question:



When are you going to assemble these boards into a house boat cabin...now that would be hot (and top heavy.)

PS - I couldnt copy your boat pic
« Last Edit: May 19, 2008, 08:43 AM by woodshopdemos »
In memory of John Lucas (1937 - 2010)

Offline Dan Clermont

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Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #22 on: May 19, 2008, 11:08 AM »
Thanks for posting that Frank!

I am going to have to make a small set for my son so he can play with it in the Living room.

I really, really like Ethan's T-shirt in the crane picture. What is a little boy from Ontario doing wearing a Vancouver Canucks T-shirt  ;)

Dan Clermont
LARGEST FESTOOL SELECTION IN BC!
https://www.ultimatetools.ca/
604.291.9663

Offline greg mann

  • Posts: 1880
Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #23 on: May 19, 2008, 02:51 PM »
I really, really like Ethan's T-shirt in the crane picture. What is a little boy from Ontario doing wearing a Vancouver Canucks T-shirt  ;)

Dan Clermont

Because wearing a Red Wing's shirt would not be tolerated so close to Toronto!!! ;D ;D
Greg Mann
Oakland, Michigan

Offline Brice Burrell

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Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #24 on: May 19, 2008, 05:17 PM »
I really, really like Ethan's T-shirt in the crane picture. What is a little boy from Ontario doing wearing a Vancouver Canucks T-shirt  ;)

Dan Clermont

Because wearing a Red Wing's shirt would not be tolerated so close to Toronto!!! ;D ;D

He'll be wearing a Pittsburgh Penguins shirt very soon.
Check out my new blog, The Green and Dark Blue Blog.

Offline Dovetail65

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Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #25 on: May 19, 2008, 10:25 PM »
This project, Charles desk and Eiji's Doors are my top three, with Eiji a little ahead. Bill Wyko is in there somewhere with his amazing vases and boxes too..

Anyone want to convince me otherwise?

Nickao
Nick, that's elite company you are placing this project in.  Thanks!

And, good luck to all of us.

No problem Frank.

I think a lot of brownie points for re-using lumber are in order. The project is something anyone here with kids is probably interested in also. That means a lot to me. And as  usual you show the Festools in action!

Nickao
The one who says it can't be done should avoid interrupting the person doing it.

Offline Frank Pellow

  • Posts: 2748
  • Toronto, Ontario and Lake Pivabiska, Ontario
Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #26 on: May 25, 2008, 09:20 PM »
Paul, I never thought of Velcro.  Now that you have mentioned it,  I think that we can make good use of Velcro tape on some of the new pieces that we are thinking of adding to the kit.  Thanks!

Timmy, thanks and I hope your dreams of becoming a granddad come to fruition.

John, do you mean a house boat that really floats?  That?s a tall order but one that I will think about.

Dan, I hope that you do make a set and, if you do, please let us know about it.  And, by the way, I like the Canucks.

Greg, that's a good one and, perhaps, true.  When I was younger, I did play pickup hockey many times in the Toronto area wearing a Montreal Canadian sweater and got away with it -but Detroit is probably worse.
 
Brice, never the Penguins!  Go Red Wings Go!  (in spite of what I said to Greg above)

Nick, I do manage to re-use a lot of wood in many of m y projects.  My neighbours are now all trained to ask me before they put  any wood out for the garbage.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2008, 09:22 PM by Frank Pellow »
Cheers,   
               Frank (Festool connoisseur)

Offline Frank Pellow

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Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #27 on: June 18, 2008, 10:23 PM »
18 June 2008:

Ethan and I got together last week to finish the crane.  The crane last appeared in this thread under the March 29th heading and, at that time, Ethan and I were last testing part of it.  The crane requirements are:

-   It must be possible to operate it from inside a building and it must be able to pick up objects outside the building

-   It must be possible to reach out from withing the building a obtain objects that have been raised up with the plane

-   It must be possible to rotate the crane on the horizontal plane

-   It must be possible to move the crane back and forth on the horizontal plane
 
The rotation was handled via this small inexpensive piece of 'turntable' hardware from Lee Valley:  

34627-0
  
This was installed on the bottom interior edge of a window frame.  On top of it, we screwed a section of 4x4 cedar with a hole drilled in the middle:

34629-1
    
The pole slides back and forth within the hole and the 4x4 provides sufficient stability. The rest ot the window frame has been left empty in order to satisfy the need to be able to reach out of the building and grab objects that have been winched up with the crane.  Here is the whole thing in operation:

34631-2
    
« Last Edit: March 15, 2011, 09:00 PM by Frank Pellow »
Cheers,   
               Frank (Festool connoisseur)

Offline Frank Pellow

  • Posts: 2748
  • Toronto, Ontario and Lake Pivabiska, Ontario
Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #28 on: July 13, 2008, 03:26 PM »
13 July 2008:

The big project for me this week has been completing a lot of parts for the log construction set.  Included in the mix were new types of parts, some modifications to old part types, and a lot of duplicates of some of the old part types.

Last year we simply placed square acrylic sheets on the roof and did not secure them.  This bothered both me and the children.  The solution we agreed to was to frame each of the sheets making panels and to secure each of the framed panels to the roof with removable dowels. I prepared narrow (1 cm by 6 cm strips) of cedar of the appropriate lengths.  Of course, the source of the cedar again was old wood that I had previously "rescued" and stockpiled.  In this picture:  

34633-0
  
the 1 cm edges of 20 strips are being gang-sanded with a Festool Rotex 150.  The strips are wedged between a stopped strip and the end vise on my woodworking bench.

Then I sanded both 6 cm sides of each strip with the Rotex and the ends with a Festool linear sander:

34635-1

Observant folks will notice that there is no hose attached to the sanders in the above pictures.  Unfortunately, my Festool CT22 vacuum is at Pellow's Camp.  :( Fortunately I could work with the door open.  :) There is a very good chance that my next Festool purchase will be a CT Mini.
  
I did not attempt to gang-sand the sides or the ends.  Each panel required eight strips and I made enough for five panels.  I have four acrylic sheets and cut a square of 6mm thick plywood for the fifth panel.  Later on I will make at least three more panels using plywood.

The strips are applied with screws and glue along all four edges of both sides of the acrylic (or plywood) squares and they are overlapped at the corners.  Here is photo of one partly completed panel:

34637-2
    
As you can see, the strips were painted red before they we used.

I have tried to avoid making special parts but it appeared that a special rafter was need along each edge of the roof.  They, too, were painted red in order to make them easy to identify:  

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Observe the four holes in the top of the rafter.  Small sections of dowel (yet again red) can be loosely fitted into these rafters:

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Then the panels (each of which has two holes slightly larger than the diameter of the dowels on one edge) can be positioned over the dowels:

34643-5
  
I hasten to add that the roof is not intended to be leak proof.

Isla, in particular, did not like the fact that the kit had a door frame but no door.  This week, I finally got around to making a door.  As with all the other parts, it had to be light enough for a child to lift and to place into position.  I have attempted to have no parts that an active and intelligent child of age 6 cannot manage.  All the cedar wood for the door is 12 mm thick.  The construction was very simple as can be seen in this picture:

34645-6
  
The door hinges were somewhat more complicated.  I remembered from my summers working on a farm as a teenager that there was some type of hinge that allowed us to simply lift some of the barn doors off their frames, but could not remember any details. Research led me to an ancient type of hinge called a 'rat tail hinge'  Such hinges are still available today but they are usually hand forged and quite expensive.  Further research led me to rat tail hinges machine made in Italy and sold by Lee Valley for A much less expensive $8 a pair.  Here is picture of me experimenting with one of the hinges:

34647-7
  
The trick is to mount the hinges so that you can:

   (1) align the lower flag (the part on the door) over the lower rat tail (the part on the frame) first,

   (2) lower the door a little bit,

   (3) align the upper flag over the upper tat tail,

   (4) lower the door the rest of the way.

Here are pictures of the door beside the frame then mounted on the frame:

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34651-9
      
Ethan requested some way of building a platform into his structures when he builds things such as forts, ships, and rockets out of the construction kit.  I came up with the idea of placing three adjacent notches on the logs on opposite walls and then bridging those notches with three regular half logs used as crosspieces:

34653-10
    
A simple platform part can then be snuggly fitted over the crosspieces:

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I tested the platform by standing on it and attempting to tip it off the crosspieces.  I could not do so.

In the photo below, the platform is being used in conjunction with the crane:

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I'm sure that we will thing of additional uses of the three adjacent notches and plan to cut them into many of the older parts.  We welcome suggestions about such parts or any other new parts!

Here are three different views of a structure that we built yesterday incorporating the new parts described above as well as a lot of duplicates of some of the older parts:
  
34659-13   34661-14   34663-15
  
I still need to complete many parts built this week with auto body filler, sanding, and then either spar urethane or paint.  I hope to have that all done in the next couple of days.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2011, 09:10 PM by Frank Pellow »
Cheers,   
               Frank (Festool connoisseur)

Offline Frank Pellow

  • Posts: 2748
  • Toronto, Ontario and Lake Pivabiska, Ontario
Re: A child's log building kit mostly made from old fence boards
« Reply #29 on: September 28, 2008, 08:14 PM »
28 September, 2008

Late in 2007, Alan Schwabacher on the Family Woodworking forum suggested:  "I think it would be cool if you signed and dated a board, and then have each grandchild who plays with it do the same. After a few decades it could become even more meaningful."

It took me a long time, but today I finally got around to acting upon Alan's suggestion.  First of all, I used a "branding iron" (given to me by my wife a few years ago but little used) on each piece:

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Next I burned the name one of my grandchildren into a log (one log for each grandchild) I am going to ask each child to pant something on their log and to sign and date it. Once they have done so, I will cover their art with spar urethane.

21507-1

My first grandchild, Christian Frackleton, died when he was 2.5 months old and I have created a log in his memory and then painted it in a way that is appropriate for me (and, I hope, for his sisters and his parents).

I will post an update with the children's art once they have created it.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2011, 09:12 PM by Frank Pellow »
Cheers,   
               Frank (Festool connoisseur)