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StewRat

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hi

I'd appreciate the ideas of more experienced toymakers on a couple of things ...

I'm starting to have some success selling small cars. They're based on the PlayPals from here but I've modified them over a few iterations - mainly to make them easier to produce efficiently in small batches (20-50 cars) - and I've created some new models in the same style/size.

It's a challenge to produce these efficiently enough so they can sell at a price people will pay, so I keep fairly close tabs on how long things take to do. There are a couple of operations that feel overly time-consuming and I wonder if any one has any suggestions?

All this is about 3/4" pine.

1. Rounding dowel ends for axles. Having cut axles to length on the bandsaw in a jig I made, I'm rounding the ends on the disk sander, rotating them against the disk in my fingers - doing something like 45 degrees, then 2 shallower angles. This doesn't even produce a great end result - more angular or spiral than rounded. 
I'd love to just be able to push the end into something like a pencil sharpener and come out with a domed end! Any jigs/ideas I've found online are only really useful for much thicker dowels than 1/4". Experiments with abrasive material on a soft backing wore too quickly as the contact point always has to be the centre.

2. Rounding edges. Mmhh I guess there is a theme here. I know someone said if you don't like sanding don't do woodwork, but anyway ...
I route the bodies with a template and fine sand all round on belt and bobbin sanders, I need to soften the edges, and doing this only by hand was quite time consuming and gave an inconsistent edge. So I started to use a rounding bit on the router which gives a better starting point for final hand sanding. But there are still edges to be blended in, and quite a bit of sanding needed especially on curved end grain. I've had both carpal tunnels done over the last year or I couldn't have considered this at all, but doing 50 cars like this is a lot of hard gripping of the car and the sandpaper.
Questions:
a. The rounding bit I'm using is what I had - it's too big (maybe as much as 1/4" radius) so I have to fiddle the height to not take the full bite. Would getting a small rounding bit - like 2 or 3 mm - be likely to give me closer to my desired end result with less hand sanding?
b. And/or - any suggestions to speed up the hand sanding? I've tried foam sanding blocks which are kind of helpful, but not the same quality as the paper I buy, and no use on inside corners.

Sorry this is so long - but I could imagine some of the follow up questions so have tried to pre-empt them.

Stewart
 


AJ

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Reply with quote  #2 
G'Day Stewart,
I also make multiple batches of toys and understand where you are coming from concerning time.
I have an office type pencil sharpener that clamps to my bench, it has a handle at the back that you turn to sharpen the pencils.
About 2 turns of the handle Champher the edge of the dowel for axles and I also use the sharpener to shape 3/8 dowels for the posts on the stacker trains  and log trucks I make.
I usually cut the dowels into 1 ft lengths in lots of about 6  at a time and shape one end of them then cut to length and shape the other end.
Not quite rounded off but close  enough to have a decent finish.
Hope this helps you.
AJ
TheWoodsmiths

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Reply with quote  #3 
If you get the proper size round over bit, perhaps a 1/8" radius, and adjust it to the exact cut, the round overs will turn out perfect. There will not be any sharp angles. I have done this on many toys and it leaves very little to be sanded.
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StewRat

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Bruce, AJ

Thank you very much for your replies, both very helpful and I'll follow up on both of them.

Stewart
BadBob

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Rounding dowel ends is easy; it is one of those things that is deceptively simple to do. You don't need any power tools. First, cut the dowels to length. You need to use a good sharp saw and cut them cleanly and square. This method will not fix a lot of tear-out. Using an 80 grit sanding block take the axle by the tip. Holding the other end against the sanding block rotate it dowel on a large circle allowing it to flex so the corners will get sanded off. In short order, you will have a rounded tip on your dowel. It takes a bit of practice, but you will soon get the hang of it.

For rounding edges, I highly recommend a sanding mop mounted in a drill press. There are lots of DIY videos about how to make them, but you will ruin a bandsaw blade, and those can be expansive. Good sanding mops are not cheap. I use the one from Klingspor Woodworking Store because they use high-quality sandpaper and you can buy replacement parts and refill kits. I think mine is 240 grit. This last a very long time. I have had mine for two years and have never had to replace the sandpaper. My sanding mop is one of my most used tools. Sanding mops work great for puzzle parts and getting the fuzzies off of the back of fretwork.

For holding toys while you sand them pad the jaws of your vise. I use leather stuck to the vise jaws with double-sided carpet tape. You will be amazed at how much easier it is to sand.

They make 1/8-inch router bits. It will work much better for toys than a 2/4-inch bit. To get smaller, you will need to go to 1/8-inch shank bits which will require a rotary tool configured as a router. There are some excellent quality carbide bits available with 1/8-inch shanks, but you will not find them at your local hardware store.

I used a router to round the edges on toys for a while. I didn't like it. It is easy to damage a toy with a router. Damage can be the point where it is easier to make another than to repair. It's also pretty scary routing small pieces. Routers make a mess throwing bits of wood all over. You also have to count the cleanup time. Unless I want the look of the routed corners, I don't route anymore.

To speed up hand-sanding use your vise. Use sanding sticks (aka fingernail files) you can buy scraps on line. Mke sanding tools to fit the task at hand. Dowels with sandpaper wrapped around them in various sizes and grits. Popsicle sticks (aka craft sticks) and with sandpaper on them work well. Sharpen the tip of the sanding stick to get into tight places. Use high-quality sandpaper. My favorite is sanding belt scraps. Don't skip grits, If it needs 80 grit use 80-grit and work your way up through the grits. You will wear yourself out trying to sand out defects or scratches with 240 grit sandpaper.

Sand your wood before you put the patterns on to cut the toys. Get a handheld orbital sander and use 80-grit sandpaper to smooth out the wood. Sanding first is much easier.

 

 

 


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Peter V

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Reply with quote  #6 
Stewart,

I use - for rounding edges - a Proxxon table router https://www.proxxon.com/en/micromot/27050.php

You can connect this to a vaccuum cleaner, works very well.

I then sand with a Proxxon https://www.hbm-machines.com/producten/proxxon/proxxon-machines/proxxon-fijnboorslijper-fbs-240e-in-koffer-en-40-toebehoren?channable=e13762.TVBOMjg0NzI&gclid=Cj0KCQjw-b7qBRDPARIsADVbUbWQZamhfoD6SdWvysH2R_TiNSu8OeYz_ZpNC_Niy3P9TmzNpKD9XGkaAh4NEALw_wcB

for which a lot of different (sanding)-tools are available.

Hardly sand by hand.

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Reply with quote  #7 
Hi here is another way for those radii ! Extend the router work base (make a new one ) and only leave enough space for the cutter. Clamp the router in a vice  amnipulate the work around the slightly exposed cutter. Note the bearing against which the work can be guided P1010166.jpg  P1010167.jpg   
StewRat

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Reply with quote  #8 
@BadBob thanks for the tip on sanding mops - that feels like the kind of forgiving edge sanding I was looking for. Interesting to see how it works vs the 1/8" rounding bit I now have.

I've tried the hand twirling method of dowel rounding but haven't perfected it. The challenge of matching the 2 axes of rotation to get a consistent edge isn't easy! Pencil sharpener feels like the way forward ...

I've also made various sanding sticks/dowels but when working on batches I've felt it was borderline if the labour making them was repaid before the abrasive became less effective. One of the things I did in modifying the PlayPal designs was to make all radii and apertures more forgiving - so no inner radii less than 1/2" and larger windows, so I can use a 1/2" router bit rather than 1/4". Much faster, and fewer tighter corners for hand sanding.

@griff2379 yes, that's essentially what I do on the router table for the main body templates, and (now) for the rounded edges.

@Peter V - thanks, I'd come across Proxxon bits in my searches, and therefore their small format routers. Nice kit, and I have things I could use it for 🙂 but at the moment it feels like using more robust machines with small bits etc will serve better for larger quantities.

Really grateful for all this input - it has been really helpful.

Stewart
BadBob

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The sanding mop will take some breaking in and playing wiot to get the hang of it.  To much pressure and it will take the piece away from you and throw it across the room. Mops are very aggressive when they are new and require some break in. I got mine originally after reading a post where some one said it was the second most important tool in their shop.
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StewRat

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Quote:
Originally Posted by BadBob
... it will take the piece away from you and throw it across the room

Thanks for the warning but I reckon pretty much every power tool in my workshop is capable of that. Sometimes there are so many bits of wood flying about I imagine positioning the machines so they can just pass the work between themselves and I don't need to get involved.
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I use mine in a drill press at the slowest speed. That way it doesn't throw them as far.
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Reply with quote  #12 
Steve Good video about sanding mops.


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Quote:
Originally Posted by griff2379 griff2379
Hi here is another way for those radii ! Extend the router work base (make a new one ) and only leave enough space for the cutter. Clamp the router in a vice  amnipulate the work around the slightly exposed cutter. Note the bearing against which the work can be guided



I thought I was the only one crazy enough to do this. 🙃

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Reply with quote  #14 
I like the sanding blades for my scroll saw you can also get sanding belt for bandsaw iuse my scroll saw ones alot
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StewRat

Thanks for the warning but I reckon pretty much every power tool in my workshop is capable of that. Sometimes there are so many bits of wood flying about I imagine positioning the machines so they can just pass the work between themselves and I don't need to get involved.


😁😂

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