Wooden Toys Reloaded
by Fox Chapel Publishing Co. Inc., East Petersburg PA USA
As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 171
Zany Wooden Toys Reloaded is an unusual book. The introduction could hardly be more basic. It treats the choosing of wood, straight and curved cutting, drilling and joining components, as well as painting and finishing, in a manner that would suit a complete novice to the craft. Yet the toy designs are quite innovative.
The first project is a Card Thrower. This is a rubber band powered device that can throw a playing card across a room. It is modelled on the magician's technique that achieves the same end - a swivelling arm hits a stop suddenly so that it releases the card.
The construction of the device is presented in drawings and photos accompanied by simple text. Lists of materials and tools are provided. (As you might expect, only a few handtools are required.)
The treatment given to all of the toys is the same. There are differences in the tools required, but there is no need for machines, or even power tools, for any of the projects. There is, however, a suggestion that a Dremel Multi-Tool might be used for carving decoration.
The second project is a Boomerang Launcher. A small cardboard boomerang is held so that when a trigger on the base of the unit is operated, an arm flies up and strikes the boomerang on one side imparting the necessary force to make the boomerang fly.
The Knobby Knocker is unique. It consists of a long arm with a trigger at one end and a hanging rod at the other. The rod terminates in a small ball which is made to swing sharply forward and up when the trigger is operated. It's reasonable to ask how the toy is used, but the author goes no further than saying 'you'll come up with a million uses'.
The Pirate Coin Maker is a little wooden press that allows aluminium foil (derived from lolly packets etc.) to be compressed into coin-like disks which can then be used in other pursuits such as board games. The Bottle Cap Shooter, as its name implies, shoots bottle caps, spinning them as well as imparting the necessary forward motion.
The Desktop Flicker-er, another rubber band operated toy, just flicks balls of aluminium foil around the desk.
The Energy Orb Robot Battle continues the theme, but the last couple of projects are quite different. The first of these is a crayon dispenser and the second is a Gumball (round lolly) machine.
While many mature readers might enjoy fitting in a few of these toys among their Christmas projects, the book would probably be most appreciated by youngsters who are just beginning to learn the use of common handtools. The author's approach as an inventor and his comments about how the designs were developed, certainly seem to target this audience. No doubt, it is also with this group in mind that Bob Gilsdorf includes an admonishment never to aim any of the 'shooting' toys at people or animals.
Units of Measurement: Imperial