Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kid made go-kart

A few weekends ago we popped into the city to meet up with a blogger friend of Lin's. She was working with Gever Tulley on a tinkering workshop.  We were a little late but caught the tail end of people as things were winding down and being cleared away. Carys was very excited to see that the kids in the workshop had make some go-karts. She immediately wanted to make one of her own and when we got home she drew up some plans at the kitchen table.

I was so impressed with this that, of course, I had to help her build it.  We headed out and picked up a few supplies:
  1. 2' x 4' board of plywood (just about fits in the trunk of our Nissan Dissapointment)
  2. 4 casters (I got ones that were rated up to 80lb)
Everything else we had lying around (some 1" x 2" wood, wood screws, nylon rope).

The base of Carys' car is a big circle, so we first drew out two circles on the plywood (I thought we were going to make two cars, but we've only made one so far).  I wanted Carys to do as much of the building as possible so we drew the circle by hammering a nail at the center of the circle and then tying a pencil to the nail with some string.  I measured out enough string to have the pencil reach the edge of the board - this gave us a 2' diameter circle, plenty big enough for the kids to sit on.

I used a jigsaw to cut out the circle - this was the only step I didn't let Carys do (partly because she couldn't stand the noise and partly because she wouldn't take off her roller-skates).  The kids then sanded down the rough edges.

Time for a quick break :)  It turns out tape measures are also good for pulling people round on roller-skates. Who knew?

Then we cut a couple of lengths of 1' x 2' wood for attaching the casters to the base (this was part of Carys' plan).  Both Carys and Ffion had fun sawing the wood (with a hand saw).  Then I marked out the hole placements for the casters and Carys drilled the pilot holes.

Time to attach the casters. Carys was really steady and accurate with the drill, but she needed a little bit of extra weight (i.e. me pushing down on the back of the drill) when using the screwdriver bit.

Et voilĂ !

The plans also had a rope loop tied to the front to pull the car around with.  I decided to add handles to the side to keep the kids on the car during the inevitable speed racing.  I marked out the positions and Carys drilled the holes using a 1/2" drill bit - this looked comically large with her using it!  I put some scrap/sacrificial wood under the car whilst drilling so that the drill-bit didn't hit concrete on it's way out.

By now it was getting dark and cold so we retired to the kitchen where the kids set about decorating their creation using permanent markers.

Then it was just a matter of adding the rope (2 handles and 1 long line for pulling).

Carys is immensely proud of her car. Doing all the planning, building and decorating has given her an amazing sense of ownership and accomplishment. She's already planning a ton of new projects, unfortunately this includes a death-defying bionic zip line out of the bedroom window to the reclaimed play structure... I wonder if I can persuade her that she wants to build an electric guitar or a laser cutter.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

PVC Pipe Dressing-Up Rack

We started playing around with PVC piping at home quite some time ago (see the marshmallow gun post) we quickly realised that it was a cheap and easy medium for building simple things (take a look at the projects page on this site: http://pvcfittings.com/ for a ton of examples).  The kids 'building box' outside has a load of pipe and connectors in it for impromptu creative fun. Most of these bits were left over from Carys' pirate-superhero-mermaid birthday party where we put together marshmallow-gun party favour bags (If you're interested you can read about that on Lin's blog post over on FilthWizardry).

The kids have most of their make-believe/dressing-up items in a single toy box in their bedroom.  The original lid on this didn't stand up to the test of multiple children piling into it day after day, so it's been an 'open plan' box for most of it's stay.   On a daily basis we find the complete contents of the dressing up box emptied onto the bedroom floor.  I guess that's the only way the kids can find the clothes for that day's dressing up desires.

We're a bit tight on space in the kids bedroom, so it seemed like a good idea to build a clothes rack that'd fit inside the box; then we could hang up most of the clothes for easy access and keep the hats, crowns and other accessories in the box itself.  At least this way they wouldn't have to completely empty the box each time and we wouldn't have to tidy it up every day!

This is actually something I've made twice now (hence deciding to post about it)...  The first one was dismantled and used to build random things out in our backyard a few months back; we soon realised the folly of our ways when we were once again greeted with the dressing up clothes piled on the floor day after day.  Time to build another!

It's really, really simple.  The fixtures and piping are 1/2" schedule 40 PVC.  They're available in Lowe's, Home Despot, OSH, ACE hardware etc.  and they're pretty cheap.  This was today's shopping list from the local Lowe's:

1. 8 * 5' of pipe = $8.96 ($1.12 each) - I bought extra for other fangling.
2. bag of 10 tee junctions = $1.95
3. bag of 10 thread to slip adapters = 20c
4. bag of 10 elbow joints (90 degree) = $1.80
5. 4 x 3-way corner elbow = $5.28 ($1.32 each).

Ok, so $18 may not seem that cheap, but there's left over material for other projects and the rack itself will get re-used as something else when it's no longer needed.  On the other hand, good luck finding something that'll exactly meet your requirements for $18 ;).

Here's everything I used:

I measured the inside of the dressing up box (before deciding on the parts) and sketched out how I wanted the rack to look.  Then it's just a matter of measuring, marking and cutting the pipe and then sticking it all together.  You don't even need glue/cement, unless you want the final 'product' to be permanent and durable.

Here's a load of in-progress shots to give you a feel:

And here's the final frame.  I added a little nubbin afterwards for Ffion to hang her handbag collection on... you can see it in the action shot below to the left of the ballerina.  I replaced a tee junction with a 4-way and slotted in a small bit of pipe terminated with a pipe cap (all left overs from previous messing/building).

The shoes are now all paired up and hung up as well.  I think these were the main culprits of the 'toss everything on the floor' routine.  Fingers crossed for a slightly tidier bedroom from now on.