A bright and simple toy for my 5-month old nephew!
Step 1: Materials and Tools
I often browse stores to get ideas for what I can make myself, and this toy is sold in my local toy store for $45!
It took only a few hours in total to make using scrapwood and the tools at the YuKonstruct makerspace. This would be an easy toy to make without the benefit of these tools - but I took full advantage.
Scrap piece of wood - I used an end of a 2x8 that was left over from another project. Anything would work depending on how tall and wide you want your finished product to be.
Dowel (any size appropriate for the width of your wood. Make sure that you have a drill bit that is a bit larger than your dowel)
Food colouring - Wilton's gel food colouring gave me great results
Foodsafe wax or sealant - I used Clapham's beeswax salad bowl wax
Saw - I used a bandsaw, but a jigsaw would work as well.
Step 2: Make the Rainbow
I used a pencil tied to a string taped to the side of a desk to draw large curves onto the piece of wood. Trial and error was key, and perfection was not my aim. I made the pieces about an inch thick so that they would withstand some abuse and chewing.
Once I had my plan drawn on, I followed the pencil lines and cut out the shapes using a bandsaw.
Step 3: Drill and Smooth the Rainbow
I was lucky enough to have a belt sander available to me, and used that for the majority of the sanding. I did touch up the curved areas by hand.
Once I had the pieces sanded nicely, making sure that no sharp edges remained, I drilled a hole in each of the pieces. I did this by marking the centre line on all of the pieces with a pencil and continuing the marking on the top piece across the width.
It was important that the dowel was lined up through each piece. My approach was to drill through the middle of the top piece first. I then put the second piece underneath it and let the drill mark the wood. When I went to drill into the second piece I eyeballed my centre line to make sure I wasn't getting off track. I continued this process to the base stand.
Once I had about an inch drilled into the base I filled the hole with wood glue and inserted the dowel. Once that dried I sanded off any stray glue *THIS IS IMPORTANT* as if you don't sand off the rogue glue, it will mess up your staining.
Step 4: Personalize the Rainbow
I wanted to personalize the centre of the rainbow. You could do this in any way that you want - painting, carving... I'd love to see your versions if you decide to make this toy!
As YuKonstruct has a lasercutter, I decided to use the technology to inscribe my nephew's name into the wood. I am... a very amateur user of the lasercutter, but this was a simple project to complete. I won't go into any details here on using the machine but I used CorelDraw to find a great font and ensured that it would fit onto my small base.
I practiced on some scrap wood before putting my finished product into the machine. Although I didn't manage to get it quite centred, I think it turned out great!
Step 5: Paint the Rainbow!
The next step was painting the rainbow!
I researched safe techniques for staining baby toys (please don't use regular paint), and it turns out that food colouring is a good bet (cheap too, compared to 'baby-safe' varnishes). I watered down wilton's gel food colouring and tested the colours out first on some scrap wood. I was pretty impressed with the vibrancy that I achieved!
Step 6: Protect the Rainbow
You have to seal the food colouring and there are a lot of different ways to do this.
I heard warnings about straight beeswax or wax mixed with oil as people said that the colour ended up staining their children's mouths. After a bit of research, I decided on salad bowl wax (safe for chewing and a bit more set).
I used Clapham's beeswax salad bowl wax and rubbed it over the entire surface of this toy with my fingers.
EDIT: THIS DIDN'T WORK (see picture 2, added) PLEASE REFER TO MY INSTRUCTABLE: https://www.instructables.com/id/Baby-safe-food-colour-stain-for-wood-an-experiment/
Step 7: Play With the Rainbow
My little nephew (wearing his favourite print screened fox bib) likes the loud clomping that the pieces make when you throw them around. When he is a bit older we will work on the stacking part :).