This week I’ve been spending my lunch hours with spade bits and 2x4s. Quick kid toy projects that have the added perk of helping me saw stuff in half! I’m like a really, really bad magician. First up was the ever impractical dice cup. A small chunk of 2×4 ripped through with a 7/8 inch bit in three spots. My hope was to learn to drill evenly and develop some measurement skills. I broke a bunch of boards my first attempts due to not holding the drill flat, but eventually got a couple of usable cups. They hold everything from d6s to d20s and make a fun sound. Now the oldest has a way to roll more than a couple dice at once. Yes, we could use any of the hundreds of plastic cups that are in the house, but where is the fun in that?
I spray painted the two final cups with a fun stone textured paint and a “hammered copper” paint that never actually worked. The paint helped make the cups more easily handled and keeps the board from splintering a bit better. Last thing I want is for the kid to be turned off of dice due to a shard of pine in his palm. I’m keeping one of them at my desk too. Sometimes you just have to roll some dice.
I cannot do anything about the cups rolling ones though. That is a part of life my children will come to know well.
Next I found a neat travel tic-tac-toe game idea on Pinterest.
This little block has two holes bored into it to house the playing stones. This was another “learn how to measure” experience. First off, creating nine equally sized squares on a 3.5 inch surface with a hacksaw (I did not want to set up my table saw) is a bear. Squares 1.16 inches is not a fun thing to try to mark. So I went with an approximate. Using I think a 3/8 inch bit for the top depressions (just smaller than the stones themselves) I made what I have come to call “well enough” cuts. “Does it work?” “Eh, well enough.”
The covering for the two holes was the next challenge. Too thin; the top snaps fast. Too large; everything looks icky. The technical term, yes. I did not measure anything for the top part. Instead I cut until the pieces stopped snapping. I highly recommend this activity for lunch hours. My afternoon was so much less stressful.
The big mess-up of the project was actually the very first thing I did. Because why not start off like that? Those two pockets that hold the pieces? I put them way to close to the center of the board. My fear was that I would drill through the sides, but there’s plenty of strength in the board.
The pieces do come out with a bit of shaking and loosening the top part. I should redo it, but then there’s , “does it work?” “Eh, well enough.”
Last project of the week that got completed I think will have the best reception from the kids. The dice cup is beloved by the toddler (he flings dice everywhere as we cower in fear). Tic-Tac-Toe has shiny objects and requires two players so the oldest is really enjoying it, but this last one I think will get the bulk of their attention.
A while back I built a Steampunk Tabletop Mini-Golf toy. It was played with for a few days and then wound up outside and forgotten. I disassembled it and put some 1 inch divots into the base board large enough to catch a golf ball, put some walls around it from scrap lumber and a piece of mdf that got wet and started to split apart. There’s a wedge shaped piece of wood to roll balls toward the divots, or of course the kids can just roll the balls on their own (but I suspect the high speeds provided by the ramp will go over well).
The big lesson from this project was about golf balls. Their little bumps can cause them to come to a complete stop. I did not realize this at first. They do make a fun sound rolling across the board though. But the sound comes to a very sudden stop. Weak.
Quick, goofy projects completed with a miter saw, a power drill and half an hour (had to eat during the lunch hour after all). Hopefully they will provide hours of entertainment before being forgotten entirely. Hopefully I stop leaving saw dust in my wake too. Good golly there has been so much saw dust.