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Hungry Hippo Toy

After I built the animated beaver toy, I bought David Wakefield's book with patterns for 20 animated toys.  I chose to make the Hungry Hippo first.

Google Sketchup

I entered the pattern into Google Sketchup.  I printed out copies of the 3 parts needed, and used them to make 1/4" plywood patterns.

Wood Selection

I built the beaver out of poplar, and it exhausted my inventory. In David's book, he says he makes his toys primarily out of cherry because it is light and strong.

I have 4 pieces of Cumaro, or sometimes called Brazilian Cherry, that has been gathering dust for 4 years on my wood storage cart. I decided it was time to try it out on this project.

Woodcraft no longer sells cumaru, but they still sell Brazilian Cherry.  It is a heavy wood, but should work ok on this toy project.


I bought some new Sears 1/8" band saw blades. I used one of the new ones on this project.  I got excessive wood burn when I tried to scroll saw it. I got less burn on the band saw.

I glued up the standard 3/4" thick stock to get the 1-1/2" thickness needed for the main body.  I planed some 3/4" down to 3/8" for the 2  front sides.  I glued up 3 pieces of 3/4" for the small spacer piece.


When I did the final assembly, I noticed the mouth was no longer making the slapping noise when it closed, like it did in pre-assembly.  I found I did not drill the two holes for the 3/8" diameter teeth at the right angle.  Since it was already glued up, I sanded some off the end of the mouth and a little off the back of the teeth, giving it clearance to slap :) 

I used a 3/8" forstner bit to drill the 2 holes in the front wheels for the 3/8" drive dowels.  I had a really loose fit.  I turned some 1/2" dowels down to the exact size needed on the lathe.  For the 2 teeth holes, I dropped the drill bit size down 1/32, and the dowels fit fine.  It must be something with the wood I am using, I have never had this happen before.

I didn't take any pictures during the making of the parts because everything was relatively simple.

Finished Toy

YouTube Video

Still pictures don't do this toy justice. I made a Youtube video showing the Hungry Hippo in action:


After Mineral Oil Applied as a Finish


Over time, I assume this Brazilian cherry will turn a darker brown like American Cherry wood does.  He looks pretty good

Closing Thoughts

This is a relatively easy toy to make, and it should provide a great deal of fun for the grandkids!






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