A short time ago, I was fortunate enough to meet a beautiful baby girl named Ester. My cousin was home from California for the thanksgiving week and she brought her new daughter with her.
When I saw this little bundle of joy I knew that that needed to make something cool for her. I am a complete sap when it comes to babies. It needed to be fast because she would soon be on her way back to California and I didn't know when I would get to see her again. Luckily I had a free day so I spent some time in my shop and got it done.
I saw a beautiful rattle online and I wanted mine to have the same feel. It was sleek and contemporary but still felt natural, because of the wood I guess. I drew out a design and got to work. With one short evening and an even shorter morning, I finished the rattle in time to give it to them before they left.
This was a really fun little project that turned out really nice. It was relatively simple and didn't take much time at all. So if you have a new little one in your life, I think you should definitely give this a go.
After all, a gift is always best if it comes from the shop... I mean heart... Same thing.
Step 1: What You Need
All of the tools mentioned below are tools that I used. This project can totally be done with out them... Maybe not as easy, but it can be done.
Scraps of hardwood ( I used maple and walnut)
A lot of sandpaper
Step 2: Your Design and Wood
I wanted this rattle to have a different design then a traditional rattle. So I drew a quick sketch and grabbed some wood.
I used walnut and maple for the rattle. I had some scraps laying around and because you don't need very much, scraps will work just fine. I had two 1x6x6 pieces of maple and one piece of walnut of the same size.
I needed to cut thin strips but I don't have a big enough band saw so I had to go to the table saw. Not ideal but it worked . I had five thin pieces when I was done.
Step 3: Cut Out
I used the scroll saw to cut each of the five pieces to the same shape. Then I took the three middle pieces to the drill press and drilled two holes in each one with a fostner bit.
After I drilled the two holes, I cut out the remainder with the scroll saw. You want to make sure the the cavity is big enough that the rice had plenty of room to bounce around.
When you are making the cavity, remember that the thinner the walls, the better the sound. This can be tricky because you want it thin but not too thin that the walls will break.
Step 4: Glue Up
I stacked all of the pieces except for the top piece and glued as I went. Make sure that your sides are lined up as well as possible so you don't have to sand too much off to even everything up.
Then you can fill the cavity with your sound material. Make sure you leave plenty of room for the rice to bounce around. I chose rice because that's what I had laying around and I was on a deadline. I think something harder like bb's would have made a louder sound but I like how the rice sounds. It's a softer sound but it's also natural so that's kinda cool.
I glued everything up and clamp it as well as I could. I left it over night so I could start sanding it in the morning.
Step 5: Sanding... a Lot of Sanding
I had this big, sort of round wood block when the glueing was done. It took a lot of sanding to get it the way that I wanted it to look. First I took it to the bench sander to get all of the sides even and smooth. Then I used the spindle sander to smooth out the inside.
When all of the pieces were flush, I got to work on the contours. To make this really look sleek I wanted to make sure that there were no sharp corners. I started to round everything Over on the bench sander. I made sure that the handle was much skinnier than the top. I got the outside rounded and then started on the inside with a dremel.
You want to make sure that when you are sanding the interior that you don't go too deep and sand into the chamber. Sand to your preference. I worked to get the rough shape that I wanted with the dremel and then moved on to sanding by hand to finish.
I wanted this to be as smooth as I could get it so I sanded up to 800 grit. One thing to remember, the more sanding you do, the less color you will get when staining or finishing. When you go with the higher grit sand paper the stain or finish will have a less vibrant color but this is for a baby and I wanted it to be as smooth as... Well as her butt.
Step 6: Finishing
I used Howard butcher block conditioner for the finish. There is no doubt that this will go into her mouth so I have to make sure that is is totally food safe and non toxic. I did a lot of research and found that a mixture of bees wax and mineral oil was the best finish for items such as these.
I did not have any bees wax handy but I do have a menards store within a half hours drive. I found this butcher block conditioner that had just the ingredients that I was looking for. I wiped some on, let it sit for a bout 15 mins and then wiped off the excess. I did this three times and it turned out just as I had envisioned. It brought out the colors in the wood but it didn't give it to much of a gloss.
I really loved how this turned out and my cousin did as well. I got them their rattle the day that they were flying back home. Perfect timing. I hope that this will be something that will last unlike some of the toys that I buy my kids.
Thanks so much for reading this and I hope you decide to make one of these really cool rattles. If you do, please let me know and send a pic. Thanks so much