The Dale C. Maley Family Web Site

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3 Hens Pecking Toy

A friend of mine came across a broken 3 hens pecking toy. She gave it to me.


I measured and scanned in the key parts, so I could draw this toy in sketchup.


The toy was broken because the string separated where it was glued to the moving head. I used hot melt glue to repair the toy.

I saw another design on a YouTube video, where that guy drilled a hole in the moving head, then glued a dowel with the string in the hole. You could also make a knot in the end and thread the string through the hole.  I think these are better designs than just gluing the string to the moved head.

Beefier Design

I increased the thickness of the moving head from 1/8" o 1/4", so I could drill a hole to retain the string.

1st Toy

I repaired it and gave it back to the woman that gave it to me.  One of the strings had come detached from the chicken head.  I hot melt glued the string back on the head, and adjusted the 3 string lengths.

3 piece chicken bodies

To get the angled cut for the chicken's head to fit into, I thought it would be easier to make the chicken bodies from 3 pieces, glue them together, and sand.

Making chicken parts

Since the parts are 3 different thicknesses, I first sawed off a 12" long piece of 1x4 pine.........and planed it to 5/16" thickness, which is the thickest part.  I scroll sawed those parts that needed that thickness, then planed down to 1/4" and cut the remaining parts then.

On the chicken head, you should scroll saw the beak area first.  If you save it to last, then it is a separate piece and you can not hold it on the scroll saw.  I had to hand scroll saw cut 1 beak with it in the vise.

I elmer glued the patterns from sketchup to the wood, then washed them off with warm water and a scrub pad.........then dried them at 120F in the oven, before I glued them up.

Making the 1st unit

I made a fixture for drilling the body, the 3/16" hole in the bottom 1/4" deep, and the 1/8" horizontal hole axle for the head.  Gluing up the 3 blanks and sanding them on the drill press drum sander went well and quickly.

When I drilled the head for the 1/8" brass rod (I drilled it 5/32" to give it some clearance)............I almost had no stock left around the hole.  When I attached the string, the head was so light it almost would not counteract the gravity force on the string.

I went into Sketchup and increased the head size to 1.10 times scale to give some more clearance around the axle hole.  I chose maple because it is heavier than pine, and it drills with less chip-out.  The slightly oversize chicken  heads worked well!

Video of prototype in action

Anita's Paints

White enamel would have the most shine on the chickens, but it easier to use water based latex Anita's paints on this project.

Updated Sketchup Design

Sketchup Warehouse

Finished Toy

Video of Toy in Action

Closing Thoughts on this project

This is a fun toy to play with.

I may make a batch of 10 to donate to a non-profit to sell as a fundraiser.

July 2021

The only thing I have noticed on the 1st unit is that there could be more stock below the axle hole for the head, more space in the body.  I will check in Sketchup and see if it can beef it up a little.

August 2021

This toy is so popular with every adult I show it to, that I decided to make a batch of 10 for a non-profit to sell.

I beefed up the body by adding 1/4" to the bottom of the chicken body.  This gives more material for the axle hole.  I made a new fixture for drilling the bottom hole in the glued up bodies.

For this batch, I tried drilling the axle holes in the side pieces before I scroll sawed them, versus gluing up the 3 pieces and then drilling the axle holes, we will see how it goes.

I made the heads from maple, because it worked much better than pine on the prototype.

Beefier Design in Sketchup

production issues

Drilling the 1/8" holes in each side of the body worked ok, I just ran the drill through after they were glued and they worked fine.

I cut the first set of strings at 12" long each.  This is almost too short, the wood ball hits the bottom of the paddle.  I should make the rest a couple of inches longer, maybe try 14 inches.

The real issue was that when I put a dab of hot melt glue on top of the string to hold it in position, the head with the glue hit the top of the body, and the head would not go clear up.  Made slot widely larger with my 1/4" wide deburr tool, and deepened the slot, then it worked ok.   On next ones I will try to push hot melt glue down against the string and see if that works.  If it does not work,  I will have to increase the depth of the slot some more.

Parts count mistake

I wanted to make 10 sets of hens, so I made 10 paddles, 10 bodies, and 10 heads.................OOOPS...........I needed 3x10 = bodies and heads!!!

Guess I get to make some more parts !!