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pdaunno

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hello Everyone,
   I'm new to the site but not a new woodworker/crafter.  I downloaded and made 4 of the 5 Play Pals (not the semi) and today I decided to paint everything.  I'm not sure if I should paint the axles or not (I did) and also a little bit into the drill holes (I did).  I was trying to avoid having any bare wood show when it was all done.  When I did a dry fit I found that it was too tight and the wheels didn't rotate properly.  What is the best way to handle this?  I assume the method would work for all types of plans that involve wheels.  I think making these small toys is a great way of using a lot of the scraps I've accumulated over the years. I'm not an experienced painter of crafts and have much to learn.
Thanks!
Paul

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Udie

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pdaunno (Paul)
Welcome to the Forum and thanks for posting your great question.
   Most of the plan sets define a 1/16" larger diameter axle hole than the diameter of the axle dowel.
This in general provides enough space for free spinning wheel assemblies.
Applying paint to the axle itself does two (2) things ... it does add thickness to the axle and as the paint is absorbed by the dowel does raise the fibers of the dowel increasing the overall diameter. Also, how many layers of paint did you apply to the axle will be a factor also. That with the little amount of paint in the axle holes adds to the problem.
   So, looks like you will have to clean out the axle hole of any paint you have there with the drill bit or a round file and then sand the entire length of the axle itself. You could lightly sand the axle dowel and then use a round file in the axle hole and increase it's diameter until your assembly spins freely.
   You also could be experiencing dowel problems. There are quite a few posts on the Forum discussing what members have experienced with purchased dowels, not being completely round and not being to the diameter they are labeled to be.
   Hope this helps and looking forward to seeing photos of your Play Pals.
pdaunno

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thank you Udie.  Do most of the toymakers paint the axles?  I have noticed that the dowels I bought and the wheels I bought from Hobby Lobby made for a very tight fit (dowel into wheel), so tight that it was nearly impossible to separate them.  So perhaps the dowel is a bit oversized as well and with the addition of the paint it created my problem.  I ended up redrilling the holes about 1/32" larger and that seemed to fix the problem.
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Udie

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Reply with quote  #4 
pdaunno - I do not paint my axles, sometimes I do apply a coat of sealer or varnish to soak into the axle to seal it, but then I sand the dowel down before assembly. I generally coat all surfaces of the toy with sealer/primer and/or paint, it just happens to be what I do. You can see my technique in a few of the Wood Toy News (WTN's) articles and videos that are posted on the web site. You can also see in photos posted in the Toymakers Photos and Success Stories of the Forum, many members like to paint the tips of the axles the same colour as the body of the toy, gives it a nice pro look. Ken Martin does that for many of his wheel toys. Drilling your holes to a larger diameter 1/32" is a good solution. That means you increased the size from 1/4" to 9/32". Many members are not able to do that with standard drill bit sets they have, that is probably why the plan sets refer to common diameter drill bits. One thing to be cautious about is, if you make the axle hole too large, you have reduced the clearance of the bottom of the toy.
Remember the axle will ride along the top surface of the axle hole, a larger hole means you have moved the axle up reducing the body clearance. If you prefer to use larger holes, you may have to consider lowering the axle hole to maintain the designed clearance.
Ken Martin

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Reply with quote  #5 
pdauno

Udie has given you some great advice.

I never paint the axles because they will not be seen anyway, and it creates to many problems as you described above.
I like to buy my dowels and wheels from Craftparts.com because the have really good quality.

However, I always test fix a dowel to the wheels I plan to use before cutting them.  If they are to tight you have two options.
1.  Lightly sand the whole dowel before you cut the axles down to size.  This works great for me because it is much easier to hold the longer dowel and sand it on a flat surface than it is to hold each axle after it has been cut.  If you sand it on a flat surface you can just turn it as you sand for an even roundness.
After sanding I like to rub the dowel with a synthetic buffing pad.  You will be amazed at how much smoother the dowel will be.
Photo below shows my favorite sanding tools for dowels:
DSC05072_mini.JPG  You see the purple sanding sponge and the nail file for sanding.  I use these because they are very comfortable in my hands.  I just rotate the dowel with my free hand and sand the dowel until I have enough of a length for the dowels.  Or I sand the hold dowel, and put the extra aside for the next set of cars.  You also see the synthetic green pad on the right, this I use to buff the dowel.
2.  If you don't want to sand the dowels, you can do as Udie said above and use a 1/4" round file lightly on the wheel hole itself.  I do this a lot even after the wheels have been painted, because some of the over spray from painting gets in the holes.  I don't want any paint in the wheel holes because the glue will bond tighter to the paint than it will to the bare wood, and the bond might break at the paint.

If when you test fit the dowel to the axle, you find it fits and you don't want to sand it down, I like to wax the dowel with Cynthia's Beeswax/Mineral Oil Paste wax.  This makes for a nice smooth finish on the dowel and it will spin freely in the axle hole.

Do not be concerned about not having the  axle hole painted, remember it is behind the wheel and the axle covers it up anyway.

If you are really concerned about the very little distance between the wheel and the body (I am not usually unless I am building a high end toy) you can do a couple of things.
1.  Take just a little bit of craft paint that matches the color of the car and water it down a bit, then apply it to the part of the axle that is showing between the wheel and the body of the car.  The craft paint will be very thin and act almost like a stain instead of paint (be carefull not to get any paint on the axle that will be going into the wheel).  Then just buff it off with a synthetic pad (= to 00 grade steel wool) or use a steel wool pad if you like.  This will give you such a smooth surface it will not cause you any trouble when fitting the axle to the body.
2.  For higher end toys I like to use a small thin washer between the wheel and the body.  I do this for several reasons.
   a.  When gluing the wheel on the axle if a little bit of glue gets on the washer, no big deal, the wheel will still spin freely on the axle even if the washer is stuck to the wheel, better that than having the wheel stuck to the body.
    b.  Sometimes like you I don't want the bear axle so show, and the washer covers the bear spot on the axle.
    c.  Sometimes it just looks cool like on the Kenworth photo of the axles below.
DSC04585 Using washers for spacers_mini.JPG 
 Hope this will give you a couple of different ideas.

Thanks for sharing you questions, and please post photos of your finished projects.
We are photo freaks around here, because we like learning from each other.




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pdaunno

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Reply with quote  #6 
Thank you Udie and Ken! Very informative and helpful suggestions.
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phantom scroller

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Reply with quote  #7 
Great help and advice from Udie & Ken always good to read I never stop learning on here brilliant stuff.
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