Being a woodworker sometimes means that the projects you're interested in and need to get to first are specific to your stage in life. I have three children so I'm surrounded by toys. And that's the main reason a lot of my projects have shifted in the same direction of this baby rattle.
That said — about 5 months ago we had our third child. And in the last couple of weeks, she's discovered both that she has hands and also that she controls those little paws. So it's time to make her her first toy, and what's better than a classic baby rattle?
I find toys like this special because they're imperative to early childhood development. They help children develop motor skills, understand cause & effect, but most importantly give Mom & Dad a few minutes of peace and quiet every now and then!
This Instructable will cover the materials, tools, and operations I used to make this Black Walnut and Maple Baby rattle. And as always, let me know if you have any questions down below.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
The Materials I Used:
These are the materials that I used to make the baby rattle for my daughter. But you can use whatever safe materials you can get ahold of. I would recommend hardwoods.
- Wood Glue
- Hard Maple (Enough to make a 1-1/2"x6" glued up blank, and (3) 1/8"x3"x3" strips.)
- Black Walnut (Enough to make a 3"x3"x8" glued up blank.)
- Wax paper.
- Sand Paper
- BB's, Corn or Rice. (To make the rattle, rattle.)
- Butcher Block Oil (Or any other food safe finish.)
- A baby to play with your new rattle. (Not required.)
The Tools I Used: (In order of appearance.)
And these are the tools I have in my shop that helped me make the rattle.
- Table Saw w/ a Cross Cut Sled
- Measuring Tape
- F-Style Clamps
- Band Saw
- Thickness Planer
- Lathe Tools (I used a roughing gouge, skew chisels, bowl gouge & a parting tool.)
- Drill Press
- 3/4" Forstner Bit
- Acid Brush (To spread the glue.)
And now for the fun stuff, let's make this baby rattle!
Step 2: Rip Your Work Pieces to Width on the Table Saw.
Set your table saw blade to the right height and rip your pieces to rough width. It's important to set the blade just above the workpiece, about 1/8".
I ripped the pieces for the handle blanks approximately1-1/2" wide.
Then I ripped the head pieces to 3" wide because once I roughed out and turned the blank round, I would have about 2-1/4" diameter with the maple inlay fully exposed. This would give me enough room to work with, keeping in mind I wanted the final diameter of the head to be about 2" or 1-7/8" for safety. Which is well over the 1-1/4" or less diameter that requires a choking hazard warning label by the Child Safety Protection Act.
Step 3: Cross Cut Your Pieces.
Then I set my blade height correctly again, and set up a stop block to cross cut my pieces on the table saw sled.
I cut the handle blank pieces about 6" in length. And the head pieces about 8" in length. I cut the head pieces so long because I don't have a four jaw lathe chuck, and had to mount the head blanks to a face plate with screws. There's a but more waste doing it this way, but it worked out really well.
Step 4: Create Your Splines.
I need a spline that would fit into a saw kerf and eventually make up the inlay in the rattle head. So I resawed some maple on the band saw and got them to finish thickness with the thickness planer.
I am not using the correct sized blade here to resaw the maple because I dulled up my resaw blade dicing up a large chunk of cypress a few weeks ago. So I made due with an almost dull 1/4" bandsaw blade. It worked out OK. But in the future, I'll wait till the right blade comes in before I resaw.
Step 5: Glue Up Your Blanks.
Then I glued and clamped up my head and handle blanks.
The handle blanks came out to 1-1/2"x1-1/2"x6" in length. And the head blanks came out to 2-1/4""x3"x8". I had to glue up the head blanks so long because I don't have a four jaw chuck, and needed to attach them to a face plate with screws.
The handles I am gluing up here are all black walnut, but later on in the project I turn a maple handle. It's the same process and dimension of blank, just a different material.
I used the wax paper in between the blanks when I glued them up because I didn't want them sticking together. One time I did a big glue up like this and they all stuck together. So let's just say I get a little anxious when glue ups share clamps like this. Luckily it worked out very well and when I released the clamps they fell apart.
Step 6: Cut the Splines and Inlay Kerfs.
Then I cut the splines to length, they came out to 2-1/4"x3"x1/8" thick in final dimension. These will slip into the kerf I created on the table saw sled.
Then I cut two square (to the blank) kerfs almost all the way through the blank. I left a little bit on the top so that when I clamped them up, it didn't slide around. I tried one cut all the way through, and it was all over the place. Especially with the angled kerf coming up next.
Step 7: Glue Up the Square Splines.
Then I glued up the square inlay splines. I used a stick covered in glue to rub glue on every stitch of the inner saw blade kerf. Then I applied glue to the spline and slipped it into the kerf. This was messy because there was a lot of glue, but you need to keep in mind that engrain sucks up a lot of glue, and I wanted this to be strong enough to handle the lathe and it's end use.
When I was done, I applied clamping pressure with a couple F-style clamps and let the glue set up. I didn't let the glue completely cure before I moved onto the horizontal spline. But the glue was set up enough to hold.
Step 8: Cut the Angled Kerf, and Glue Up the Third Inlay.
Then I set up a couple of scrap pieces on the table saw sled with screws that hold the blank in place. I passed the blank over the table saw blade creating the kerf for the angled inlay spline.
I applied glue to the kerf the same way I did with the square splines above, slipped the spline in and applied clamping pressure.
I let this and the other two glue ups dry overnight, ensuring that the glue up was cured.
Step 9: Rough Out Your Rattle on the Lathe.
Then I roughed out the rattle on the lathe with my roughing gouge and 1-1/4" skew chisel. I'm new to the lathe, so I have no business giving lessons.
Step 10: Create the Pocket for the BB's.
Then I took the blank over to the drill press and hogged out a 3/4" hole about 2" deep. This created the pocket that would hold the BB's.
I worked on shaping the bottom of the rattle head and hollowed it out with my bowl gouge. I also made the bottom of the rattle head perfectly flat so that it would sit snug with the top of the handle.
Step 11: Sand and Part Off the Head.
Then I sanded the rattle head up to 220 grit, and parted off the rattle head with my parting tool. I was really happy with how the inlay turned out.
Step 12: Turn Your Handle.
I turned my handle, making sure that the round tenon would fit into the round mortise on the rattle head with my calipers.
Below that, I went off of feel. I was really happy with the proportion and shaping of the rattle's handle. Even though I don't have any experience doing spindle work like this on the lathe. I used my large parting tool, and skew chisels to shape the handle on the lathe.
Step 13: Sand the Top of the Rattle.
Then I turned a little friction chuck so that I could sand the top of the rattle where I parted it off. I couldn't sand it when I turned the blank, and this was the only way I could think of getting to it and sanding it on the lathe.
Step 14: Add the BB's.
These are lead free BB's that I'm adding to the void in the rattle head. These are what will make the rattle, well, rattle.
Step 15: Glue the Handle to the Head.
Then I applied glue to the mortise on the head of the rattle, and the tenon on the handle. I slipped them together and twisted carefully so there wasn't any squeeze-out. Squeeze out is hard to sand off on round pieces. And where hits the wood, it doesn't let the finish absorb so you get phantom light spots.
I also made sure not to let the BB's hit the glue. Because it'd stick the BB's together and the thing wouldn't rattle.
Step 16: Apply Your Finish.
Then I applied 3 coats of General Finishes Butcher Block Oil, because it's food safe. If it's safe enough for food, it's safe enough for a kid to gnaw on in my book.
Step 17: And You're Done! It's Baby Rattle Rattlin' Time!
It's time to let this bad boy dry, and give it to your favorite kid. These also seem like they'd make awesome presents for parents to be. And that's why I made more than one.
Thanks for checking this out. Let me know if you have any questions, or if I've inspired you to make your own below.
Thanks again, and we'll see you on the next one!