Wee Walker Wagon V1 and 2

Getting back to baby furniture, I have seen different kinds of little pusher wagons that kids learning to walk can use to help them build muscles and coordination. A co-worker mentioned that his daughter had a plastic store bought walker that she was learning to walk with, but that it was so light that it would shoot away from her. I had him measure her height to the shoulder to act as a rough starting point

I will probably build one for us and a few for friends having kids. That means making use of templates to repeat the work once I figure out what I want it to be like. I broke out the compass and thin bandsaw blade and got curvy.

I added holes to the templates and used a transfer punch to copy those holes over to each part. That way the wheels will connect in the same spot, and the handles will go on evenly. To add a little color and flare I painted green accents to the handle and wheels and a racing stripe for +2 speed. When the paint was all dry I coated everything with polyurethane.

I was worried the walker would go skidding across the floor if placed on anything other than carpet. I printed thin TPU bands to act as tries and glued them to the wooden wheels. The TPU isn’t as grippy as a rubber tire, but I was able to produce it in house and it will grip better than the bare wood.

I spent some time fiddling with the arms, and probably built them a little too short. I will give this to the co-worker and have him test it out on his daughter.

The finished product looks nice. It is heavy enough that a child just learning to climb up will not have it shoot away, but light enough they can still push it. Lock nuts set the tension at the wheels, so there can be more or less resistance as needed.

I gave this one to the co-worker that was complaining about the plastic one his daughter was using. The only catch was that he had to report back how it worked, and let me tweak it if need be. A few weeks later the reports were in. The bigger kids liked to play with it too! They treated it like a bumper car and crashed it into a lot of things. Also they wrenched on the handle hard enough that the arms were flexing where they screwed into the body. Lastly, it was a little on the wide side.

No problem, this is why I gave it to him! I didn’t like how the old arms turned out, so I went ahead and remade the template. Instead of freehanding some curves I got more systematic. I drew two circles that were the size I wanted each end of the arm to be, and drew them further apart than the original arm so I could move the base down lower on the cart. Then, to connect them, I set my drawing bow to a nice curve and connected the tangents of the two circles. The results look a lot better than my first arm template.

I assembled everything with pocket hole screws from underneath, and a few visible screws on the side. That let me take everything apart for alterations. I trimmed the center width down from 16 inches to 12. That should lighten the look and load of the thing and make it more maneuverable.

The bumper car comment had me wondering. I had left the bolt heads stick out beyond the wheel. If they caught a piece of furniture or baseboard, the bolt would probably fair better than the target. Also, there wasn’t much cushion to the tires. I mostly added them for grip, not as a bash protector. I counter-bored all the wheels, to recess the bolt heads, and upgraded to 5/16″ bolts as that was what I had available. The old tires were cut off and replaced with thicker ones that wrap around the outside face of the wheel. Now they shouldn’t be so offensive to fine features in one’s house.

With those upgrades complete I reassembled everything and gave it back to my co-worker. If there aren’t any more changes needed I can go into production and make a few for myself and other co-workers that are having kids.

Pikler Climbing Triangle

The baby goods continue. I saw this one as part of a way to give kids something to help work on standing when young, and an acceptable indoor outlet for climbing urges when they get to be toddlers. It folds up pretty easily, because we wont be using it for a while and I don’t need big furniture taking up space. It has colored rungs, and three ramps that can sit on any rung to make them more or less inclined. One is a slide, one a rock climbing wall with 3D printed climb features, and the other has rungs stuck down to make crawling up easier.

I used poplar for the sides of the climbing structure. I rounded the ends and drilled spots for each rung.

Once again trying to make everything a different color took a lot longer and was more tedious than I had originally thought. Still, every rung is different and it looks great!

To attach rungs to the climbing ramp front I flattened them by hand. I was going to make some kind of sled to go through the planer, but I would have to adjust the planer multiple times for each rung, and they didn’t get pulled through well. By hand ended up being the easiest. I used a combo square as a depth gauge to know when to stop removing material.

I attached two rungs to the back of each ramp so they would fit around the ones on the climber. They probably won’t do a good job on the highest rungs, but it holds really well on any of the lower ones.

Those two mounting rungs are where I made my only big mistake on this project. While finishing all the ramps I noticed an orientation issue. I used a forstner bit to drill recesses for the t-nuts that all those climbers attach to. The side with all the big holes should be the back, but I put the mounting rungs on the other side. I could rip them off, but it would really tear up the plywood surface. I glued and nailed them down. Instead I just lived with it. The holes are ugly, but sanded well enough to not be a hazard.

I rounded over the edges of the sides, finished them all individually and assembled the two halves. To hold the two segments together I shaped a triangular piece of plywood. It screws fixed to one side while using a set of screws as a hinge on the other. A bolt and t-nut allow it to be locked in the open position. Removed, it pivots around the one set of screws and folds up.

Our little guy will be battle testing this design eventually. Maybe there will be an update in a year or two where he has figured out how to collapse it from jumping or something. Successful designs will have to get a #BabyProof update.

Colored Stacking Blocks

Some big changes are coming to the household. We have a tiny kilt coming soon! He will be born in September, so it is time to start making some toys and baby/toddler furniture. The nature of this blog will probably still mostly focus on my projects, but it might eventually include collaborations between me and the offspring. How old do you have to be to start learning to use power tools? 4 or 5 maybe?

Until then, I have a lot of time in the shop now, due to the pandemic. I won’t once the baby comes, so let’s get started on a bunch of stash busting projects and make some toys and furniture. My first project is something simple. A stacking block game. I found a board of poplar that would suffice. Each block is about 1/2″ smaller than the previous. They get a hole drilled in the center and all the edges rounded over.

I bought a variety of craft paints to make these and other projects more colorful and appealing to kids. Truth be told, this was the hardest part. Painting everything with multiple coats, cleaning the sponges, keeping the paints separated and whatnot.

I wrote a little note on the bottom of the block set base, but the spray coat of shellac I threw on there mostly blurred it away. As it turns out, even the industrial sharpies are susceptible to ethel alcohol. Next time I will have to spray lacquer over any ink-work to preserve it before using shellac. My wonderful wife’s grandfather would always write notes on the things he built, so I am going to take up the tradition. The wood, paint and shellac is all kid friendly and benign should someone start using these as teething devices.