Thursday, October 6, 2011

Isaac's Birthday & Blocks

Poor sick baby before food :(
Isaac turned 1 this September, but sadly, he came down with Roseola on his birthday.  I thought he might not be well enough to even have a celebration, but after some Tylenol and food he perked up.

See how much more alert he looks after he ate?
On the presents... We kept it really simple and only gave him 3 presents, since we have SOOOooo many toys and at 1, he doesn't really get it yet anyway.  The first was a the waterproof bib.  We have two waterproof ones already, but I one more never hurts :)  If you can't tell, it's got cute little car prints inside the 1.  I had actually originally made the embroidered part earlier it to stock in my store, but I never got around to finishing it.  Sometimes I feel more motivated to finish things when I know I won't have to take the time to list them online :(

The second present was a CamelBak water bottle. He loved stealing his older sibling's bottles, so I figured he would really enjoy having his own.  He does.  I really love the design of this type of bottle ( I have one myself)- No spills and lots of water.  I would have gotten better prints for the older kids if I had known there more available than those on the CamelBak site/Target.  There are a ton of great prints out there now.

The middle block is the robot's 'button'.

Finally,  the 3rd, and my personal favorite present.  Handmade blocks.  We already had some cheap pine blocks from Christmas Tree shop that we bought for $3, which never got played with.  After babysitting my friend's son, I discovered that blocks can be quite fun to play with if  they're a good weight and size.  I scaled my blocks to have a unit block size of 11/16" x 1 3/8  x2 3/4", which is model after the set of mini unit blocks my friend has. It's half of the standard unit block size, and much better fit for a toddler.

With a little guidance from this site, we were confident enough to try to scrap together some blocks.  We bought stock maple from Lowes ( the main width being 1 1/2" x 3/4" x 8').  With my husband's help, we used a tablesaw to trim down the sides to the right widths.  We used a fence on one side of the tablesaw and cut several test pieces with scrap wood to get the dimensions as close as we could.  It'd say our final dimensions were only about 10 thou off, which far better than I expected, but when stacked up 10 blocks high, deviations can add up quick.  Some of the edges got burned and there were several places you could see blade marks/indentations.  I think some of that was inexperience on our part, but I think a lot of that was a really dull blade on my parent's tablesaw.  I would have bought a blade myself had I known it would be that bad. I would have loved to have used a planer, which is ideal, but I didn't get the time coordinated well enough with a coworker to use his.

After the wood was the right girth we used a chopsaw to cut the blocks to the right length.  We used a stopper to keep the dimensions accurate and consistent, and like before, we used several test cuts in scrap to get the dimension as best as we could.  We did have one problem when we got to the end of a triangle section and had barely anything to hold onto.  The piece went flying across the lawn just after breaking the sawdusk catcher on my parents chopsaw.  1) We probably shouldn't have tried it, and 2) I was told it's good practace to clamp a scrap board the back of the chopsaw, chop through that and then keep it there so there's less of (no) gap for the wood to shoot through.

 I also bought a block of hard maple at a real hardwood store.  We were planning on making some 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" blocks from it, but after the first cut, we gave up.  The tablesaw/weak blade could not handle that wood and we gave up.  Maybe at my friend's shop someday....

It took about 6 hours of cutting (including set up of the tools in the driveway) and about 2 hours of sanding down the edges later at home.  I'm very happy with the outcome, and they're quite fun to play with. But, to be clear, they're definitely not up to the quality/variety my friend has, but were around $100 cheaper.  I would love to have some curves/different styled triangles someday, but those will likely have to be purchased elsewhere, unless I get my dream workshop.

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