Introduction: Dancing Ghost--wooden Version

Picture of Dancing Ghost--wooden Version

After making a paper prototype, I decided to try a wood version of my dancing ghost. I like the fact that the wood version is a whole lot more durable. Both versions use a sucker as the support for the ghost. The sucker can be removed (and eaten) and replaced with a fresh one next year.

Step 1: Supplies:

Picture of Supplies:

3/8 inch square dowel rod
Wood veneer
Round toothpick
Wood (or white) glue
Hand saw
Sand paper
Dremmel/drill bits
Tiny nails/hammer
Scrap of white fabric
Sucker (tootsie pop)

Step 2: Measure and Cut Square Rod

Picture of Measure and Cut Square Rod

Mark and cut the following pieces from the square rod:
8 pieces 1 3/4 inches long (frame of box)
1 piece 1 inch long (end of the crank)
1 piece 1 3/8 inch long (end of crank going to handle)
2 pieces 5/8 (off set for middle of crank)
1 piece 1 1/4 inch (basket to hold sucker stick)
1 piece 1 inch long (crank handle)

The rod I used was very soft wood (balsa????) so I had no trouble cutting it with a coping saw.

Lightly sand any rough edges.

Step 3: Glue the Box Frame

Picture of Glue the Box Frame

Glue 4 pieces to form a square. Make 2. One square will be the top of the box. The other will be the bottom. Allow to dry completely before adding the sides.

Step 4: Attach Side Panels and Top

Picture of Attach Side Panels and Top

Mark and cut the side and top panels from the wood veneer. Measure the width of the box frame. Cut 2 panels that wide and 4 inches long. The veneer is thin enough to cut using scissors or a craft knife. Cut a panel for the top and another for the bottom.

Cut a hole just below the middle of each side panel. It needs to be large enough for the square rod to rotate freely. Cut a hole in the top panel big enough for your sucker stick. If you make it a bit on the large side, the ghost will wiggle nicely when you crank the handle.

Attach the veneer panels with glue along the top and bottom pieces of the box.

Step 5: Drill a Few Holes

Picture of Drill a Few Holes

The 2 crank off-sets need to be drilled part way through. The location of the hole is marked with an X in the picture above. The hole should be the diameter of the toothpick. A tight fit is not necessarily since you can make sure it stays snug by adding a drop of glue.

The bottom of the piece that will hold the sucker stick needs to be drilled all the way through. The diameter should allow the toothpick to move freely. I wiggled the dremmel a bit just to make sure the hole was wide enough.

The top of this same rod needs to have a hole drilled about 3/4 inch deep. The hole should loosely fit the sucker stick--the looser the better. You want the stick to wiggle around as much as possible. The wiggle is what makes the ghost dance.

Cut a piece of toothpick that allows the 3 pieces to be connected by the toothpick as an axle. There should be enough clearance on either side of the center piece (sucker holder) so that it spins freely. After checking the length, you can pull it apart and apply glue. Do not use so much glue that it oozes out and sticks to the center piece.

Step 6: Glue Crank

Picture of Glue Crank

The last 2 pieces of the crank will hold the entire assembly in position and give you a place to glue the handle. Do not attach the handle at this time.

Step 7: Installing the Crank

Picture of Installing the Crank

After the crank has fully dried, slip the longer end through the side panel hole from the inside of the box. Fiddle with it until you have the other end poking out the other side hole.

Glue a small circle of veneer over the short end of the crank. This will prevent it from slipping out of position. Allow to dry.

Glue the handle to the longer end of the crank. The reason it is longer than the other end is to be sure that there is enough space to get a solid connection. Make sure to leave a little wiggle room. If you attach the handle so that the crank is pressed into the box too tightly, you may find it difficult to turn the handle.

Step 8: Final Touches

Picture of Final Touches

I used a silk handkerchief but any fabric would work. It can be glued loosely to the box corners. I used a couple of tiny nails instead.

When you attach the ghost covering, be sure that you position the sucker so that it is at its highest point. That way it will move around as the handle it turned. I held the fabric in position with a rubber band while I adjusted it. You can also give the handle a couple of cracks just to make sure there is enough slack. Attach the fabric to the box with a few small dots of glue or a couple of tiny nails. You want the fabric to be loose so you can reach under the drape to get the sucker in and out.

I used a rubber band and a few pins to hold things in place while I attached to ghost.

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Bio: I have taught math for 30 plus years. I am one of the crazy ones who actually think math is fun. I am still adapting ... More »
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