Intro: Build Blocks!
Are you tired of cheap toys, cheap electronic toys, cheap plastic toys, cheap plastic electronic toys?
Do you want to craft something for that special child in your life? Or have a neat coffee table toy?
Well, I have the project for you. This one will bring you back to your childhood, and when it's done, it's something that everyone will marvel at.
Blocks... Yes blocks.
This instructable will show you how you can turn a $3 2x4 into a set of your very own, homemade blocks. We have seven shapes in our set, the brick, the long bridge, the short bridge, the square, the square column, the round column, and the triangle. Feel free to create your own shapes as you see fit!
Originally, I made a set of blocks when my youngest son was 2. However, shortly after making them, we gave them to my nieces for Christmas. Unfortunately, we never got around to making another set... Until now. My sister-in-law was lamenting the toy choices for my niece, and I offered to make a set of blocks. And we decided to document as an instructable.
As a matter of fact, try finding a set of wooden blocks to buy. There aren't many choices and most are more than $50.
So, here's what you need:
1 - 2x4x8 - Pine ( get the $3 one, not the $1.50 one.) As straight, and ding free as possible.
1 - 1.5" x 36"diameter hardwood dowel
Cost - About $7
Saws - Table and Miter, or hand saws and miter box
Drill - Hand or Press
Drill Bits - 3/8" and 2.5" hole bit
Sander - Hand or Belt
Step 1: Block Dimensions
Before we cut out our blocks, we need to determine the dimensions of our blocks.
As a 2X4 is really 1.5x3.5, most of the pieces use the 3.5" width.
This are the dimensions i used.
(1) Square - 3.5" x 3.5"
(2) Brick - 7" x 3.5"
(3) Triangle 3.5 "x 3.5" x 5"
(4) Square Column 1.5" x 1.5" x 3.5"
(5) Round Column 1.5"D x 3.5"
(6) Long Bridge 5" x 1.75"
(7) Short Bridge 2.5" x 3.5"
Step 2: Cut Blocks
Now that we have our block dimensions, we need to get to the cutting!
I used my compound miter saw, if you don't have one, you can use a handsaw and a miter box.
First, I started by cutting all of my pieces that were 3.5" long. To ensure a consistency in the length, I clamped a wooden block to my miter saw 3.5" from the blade. This basically acted like a fence so I wouldn't have to measure and mark each individual piece.
I used this fence to cut the square, the square that would become triangles, the round column and the square column.
For the square column, I had a piece of 2x4 I had previously ripped into a 1.5 x 1.5.
Second, I set the 'fence' to 5" and cut four pieces that would become the bridge pieces.
Next, I set my wooden block 'fence' to 7" and cut the brick pieces from the 2x4.
Lastly, I set the blade on the saw to cut at 45degrees. I then placed a square under the blade, and cut into two triangles.
At this point you should have all your pieces roughed out.
Step 3: Finish Bridge Pieces
To create the bridge pieces we need two additional steps.
(1) Drill a 2.5" hole in the center of the block.
This can be accomplished by using a 2.5" hole drill bit. First, we need to find the center of the block. Easy enough.. just draw a line from corner to corner and find where they cross in the middle.
The drill bit I had was not deep enough to cut through a 2x4, so I had to drill from both sides. In order to ensure that the holes lined up, I drilled a 3/8" pilot hole completely through the center and then proceed to use the hole bit on each side.
Both sides should meet up and now you are ready for step 2.
(2) Cut the blocks in half.
Using a table saw, cut the blocks in half. For a short bridge, set the fence to 2.5" For the long bridge, sent the fence to 1.75".
Get your push stick, and slowly cut the pieces in half.
Now you should have all your pieces cut out!
Step 4: Sand, Sand , Sand!
Since we don't want any splinters, it's time to sand.
You have your choice when it comes to sanding.
Feel free to use a table top belt sander ( like me ), or you can use a handheld power sander, or even a manual sanding block.
Regardless of tool, the methods are the same.
(1) Start with a rougher grit like an 80, and then move on to a finer grit like a 120. And if you want to go even smoother, you can do a 240.
(2) Always sand with the grain.
(3) Wear dust mask. Its no fun breathing in all that saw dust.
Step 5: Complete!
Now that sanding is complete, you can finish as you see fit.
You can go classic and just put on a nice coat of polyurethane.
Or paint with some primary or pastel colors.
Give them to your favorite kid, or kid at heart. Or keep them on your coffee table.
They are almost IMPOSSIBLE to resist when they are done.
PS - special thanks to Max, my number one assistant and photographer.