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Tail-Thumping Beaver Toy

The Oct/Nov 2014 Issue of woodcraft magazine has a pattern for a neat children's wood toy. It was designed by David Wakefield.  I was going to reference his web site, it has gone defunct and reverted back to the provider. I don't know if he is still selling his plans or not since the web site is defunct.

He does sell some of his toys at this website.

He also has many books on with patterns for his toys.

He made his example body in the article from Cherry.  I'm going to try poplar, possibly with no finish applied.


I entered the design in Google Sketchup.......

This bottom view explains how and why the tail flaps as it rolls along...........


Main Body

I had to glue up two 3/4" thick poplar boards I bought at Menards to get the 1.5" thick material needed for the body.


I also glued up 2 thicknesses of standard 3/4" poplar for the tail as well.

Making the Clearance for the Thumping Tail

The novel thing about this design is the method of making this clearance inside the body. The designer uses a table saw dado set to make the clearance.  He suggests at least 2 passes, and I used 3 passes.


My poplar board blank was 5.5 inches wide, so l used the whole width, so I could get my hand further away from the saw blades. This worked well having this extra material.


You set the dado stack to give  you about 1/2" thickness.  Then you move the fence because it takes 2 passes to arrive at the desired 3/4" groove thickness. It took the 2 outside blades, plus 2 chippers to get about a 1/2" thick cut.

I am always a little nervous using a dado stack, but this operation went ok.  I had to raise the blade and increase my 3/8" zero clearance insert piece to the 1/2" I used on this project.  I raised the blade slow, so not to put too much stress on the pine board.


 Drilling teeth holes

I chose to drill the teeth holes before I sawed out the body, since the teeth were shown on the paper pattern.

Making the Tail

This project uses the common scroll sawing technique of putting the pattern on 2 sides of a the blank. You saw one side first, then the other side, yielding items with curves.

I sawed the front first, and then the top.

I followed the author's suggestion, and put my small router in the vise, and used it like a router table. I put in 1/4" round-over bit to round over the end of the tail.



Finished Beaver

The article called for 1-3/4" diameter round wheels.  I have zero of these in stock, so I ordered some. I do have some treaded truck wheels in stock, so I used these for the 1st beaver.

YouTube Video

I made a video to show this Beaver in action, please forgive my poor movie making abilities :)


Batch of 9 Beavers

I decided to match a new batch of 9 beavers. I continued to white Elmer's glue on the paper patterns on 2 sides of each block for the tails.

I could have made 2 plywood patterns and traced them, but I stuck with the paper. You don't have to remove the paper when you are done because these faces are not on the finished tails.

I did make a pattern for the main body from 1/4" plywood. This saves a lot of time just pencil tracing from the pattern versus gluing on paper 9 times.

Mr. Wakefield's pattern must have been designed to band saw the main body using an 1/8" wide blade versus the standard 1/4" wide blade I leave in my band-saw.  I cut not cut the curves using my 1/4" blade and I got a lot of burning I had to sand out. I switched to the 1/8" blade, it cut to the curves, and much less burning to sand out.  My blade has 15 TPI and is 80 inches long.

 My 1/8" blade was very old and a little rusty. It made it through the 9 pieces I needed, but it broke on the last one.  I ordered some new 1/8" blade through Sears.

Mass production on the 9 Bodies

 I made 2 passes with the dado blade. The first was with the blade about 1/2 the final height. This worked fine.


The author dips his toys in food grade mineral oil.  The only place I could find this was at Lowes in small containers.  I had better luck at Farm & Fleet, which sells 1 gallon containers for livestock.

I used boiled linseed oil on 1 beaver. This worked ok.

I bought some cheap plastic tubs to fully dip the assembled beaver, using the 1 gallon jug of mineral oil. Then I let it drain off on another plastic container.

Beavers Drying after Dipping in Mineral Oil

 Brown Painted Beaver

I had to paint 1 beaver to see what it looked like.  He has brown body, white teeth, and black eyes. Looks pretty good!

Closing Thoughts on this project

If you glue up 2 boards each 5.5 inches wide by 3/4" thick for the main body, after you saw out the main body, their is enough stock left to make the tail. I didn't realize this, and glued up another board to make the tails. On the next batch I make, this will save time and wood. 

This turned out to be a relatively easy wood toy to make.  It takes some time to set-up and tear-down the dado blade set-up, but if you are doing a batch of them, it is not a big deal. I plan on making a batch for Christmas 2016 family gifts to the children.






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