Tip Truck

The first project out of the workshop is proving to be fun (aren’t they all?) being a tip truck that I am making (and designing as I go).  It is meant to be for a magazine article, but with the combination of trying to get the shed functional, demands of work, and family, I might have missed the deadline.  Never-the-less, it was good to be ‘forced’ to get back to what the workshop is really about.  Murdering electrons while making sawdust.

It has been a great little project to commission the SawStop on, and that has been fun in itself (as my previous post eluded to).

truck-2A number of blade tilts (guard removed for clarity, and in this instance to stop the project hanging up on it, but note the riving knife instead, which worked perfectly).


Making something out of your head is always an interesting evolution – lots of contemplation working out what is needed next, some false starts, but all in all, successful

Given (from the title), it is a tip truck, I needed wheels, and although you can make a round wheel on a tablesaw, I don’t see it being a good practice.  SawStop or no, I’m not sticking my hand that close to any spinning blade.  Instead, I went to my old trusted solution – wheel cutting bits from Carb-i-tool.  I initially made them all the same size, but the front just looked wrong, so they were made with a larger diameter cutter.  The rear wheels were made thick (about 30mm thick), so after the drill press, I headed over to the bandsaw to roughly cut the wheels free, then to the Comet lathe and the pen mandrel as it happens, to finish the job.  As a system it worked well, and the tip of a skew chisel was used to cut grooves around the circumference as tread.


The truck is still “rough and ready” – it’d take about the same amount of time to finish it (which is normal for a project, I find).

I stuck with my standard principle (that I try to apply as often as is practicable) that it is only wood and glue (axles and all).

truck-1It is a good size – about 400mm long, 130mm across, and about 180mm high (to the top of the cab).  Functional too – wheels turn, the tray tips, tailgate swings open.

It will be pretty durable too, but as the weakest component are the axles (both on the wheels and also the tray), and they are simply dowel, easily repaired.  I think it is always good to consider damage and repairability when making kids toys – you want something that will last the distance, even if there are a few repairs required along the way.

Developing the Prototype

The initial prototype worked out quite well, so I’ve started designing a range of vehicles. The drawings look rather childish, but they are actually part of a bit of a trial of some new IT technology.

The LiveScribe Smart Pen is a ball point pen with a microprocessor, and a camera. Without going right into the technology, it records what you actually draw on the page, and then transfers it to the computer.

Some quick designs

Some quick designs

I’ve then taken these and whipped them out on the bandsaw in pine.

Cut-out on Bandsaw

Cut-out on Bandsaw

Creating Windows

Creating Windows

Windows were then cut using a forstner bit.  The car bodies were then sanded using a combination of the linisher and spindle sander.

Next, I needed a bunch of wheels, and obviously the Carb-i-tool Wheel Cutter comes into its own.

Creating Wheels

Creating Wheels

In the past I’ve created wheels one-by-one as required, but when a bunch are needed, nothing beats a batch job.  All are cut on one side, then when the board is flipped over, the centre holes guide where to continue the cuts.  In pine I get a lot of tearout, so tried different timbers with a lot more success.  My first attempt with Vic Ash resulted in a significant grab and the age-old helicopter effect.  LDV would be proud.  My fingers weren’t so impressed.

Finished Wheels

Finished Wheels

The wheels are cut out, but they still have a central lip that needs removing.  This was done by mounting it on a piece of dowel as a temporary axle, then running the wheel against the disk sander (lightly).



Holes were cut for the axles into the car body (slightly oversized), and full width axles cut, and ends rounded.  The wheels were then glued to the axle.

After playing with these prototypes for a bit, I returned to the ‘shop, and drilled a couple of holes for headlights, and added a small rod of dowel to be the exhaust pipe.

Headlights and Police Lights

Headlights and Police Lights

For a police car, I added an extra couple of bits of dowel to be the police car’s flashing lights.



Here is a transporter, a bus, sportcar (2 exhaust pipes), police car and a city car.

Wooden Truck

Wooden Truck

A car transport truck. At the front of the trailer is quite an overhang, so the turning truck doesn’t impact on the trailer.

That’s about as far as I’ve gotten to date.  The next step is going to be to produce a high quality version, and in parallel to create some patterns of the design in MDF or similar.  Future vehicles will be produced by screwing the template onto the desired stock, rough-cutting it out on the bandsaw, then finishing the job on the router table with a pattern following bit. The screwholes will be planned to coincide with the locations of windows and/or axles.

Quick Toy Prototype

Materials for Project: $1

Tools for Project $substantial!

Total manufacture time: 12 minutes (inc wheels and axles)

Tools used: Bandsaw, Linisher, Drill Press

The feeling from making a wooden toy for a child (especially your own): $Priceless

For everything else, there’s Chinese mass production (and lead based paint)

Toy Car Prototype

Toy Car Prototype

Some fine-tuning required to get it looking a bit better, and on the real model all the edges would have a fine round-over bit.  Axles are thin wooden dowel, but should be pretty strong.  Wheels were cut using the original 40mm Carb-i-tool wheel cutter.  The entire construction is wood (and a little glue).

First tests of the prototype were quite promising.  More ‘testing’ required though before relinquishing ownership! (Because they are fun to play with!)

It’s catalogue season!

I was talking with a friend of mine from Carb-i-tool the other day, and their new 2008 catalogue has just hit the streets.

It’s about 30 pages larger than the previous one – lots of new bits! so that will be good to go through. I should get it in the mail in the next day or so (and it was!), and from there we’ll have to see what new router-bits-of-the-month we can find. (Carb-i-tool have always been a generous supporter of Stu’s Shed).

Their new catalogue will be on their website in about a month or so – at this stage it is still the 2007 one.

One part that has changed that I’m aware of – the wheel cutter (featured here a few months ago) has had a design change, and has a new hub design. So I hope to bring you some more details of that. The old cutters are still available, but once current stock is depleted, they won’t be replaced.

***Update*** The wheel now has a hub that finishes inline with the edge of the wheel. It means that now if you place two wheels side-by-side, the hubs will touch, more like what you’d expect in a real wheel. The change has been made as a direct response to the feedback that Carb-i-tool has received about their wheel cutters.***

There is a lot of development in diamond bits as well (for ceramics, marble, glass etc), so it will be interesting to see what is being done on that front.

Router Bit of-the-Month (November)

With the upgrade to the blog (and the new template that gave me the extra column), I was able to make use of the new real estate to add the ‘featured router bit and tool’ (and I may expand this further if new ideas hit me).

Both have featured in videos recently, but I didn’t expand my writeup at the time (and it was really back in late September….slowly getting the machine into gear…..December’s bit will be along shortly) Enough of the pre-blub, let’s jump into it.

The router bit for November is the Carb-i-tool Wheel Cutter (featured in Video Episode 11). It is not strictly a router bit, as it is designed to be used in the drill press (and would be very dangerous if used in the router), but I’ve included it in this category as it has many aspects in common with router bits. – method of manufacture, 1/2″ shaft, large chunk of Tungsten Carbide, the teflon or powder coating (depending on the bit’s purpose) (that is a standard on Carb-i-tool bits).

The bit itself is built on a 1/2″ shaft of mild steel (there are a whole range of steel grades that are used, depending on the specific bit in question, and the sort of loading it would be expecting during use). It has a removable drill bit held in place with a hex grub-screw (I guess in theory you could change the bit to suit different axle diameters, but I haven’t investigated this), and the two wings of the bit have hefty chunks of tungsten carbide which are the cutting surfaces (and edges). The bit itself is powder coated to provide a low-friction surface (although in this case, the body of the bit does not come into contact with the material being cut). Being that the bit is designed for the drill press (which is a much lower-speed machine than a router), and that it is an end-cutting bit, there are no anti-kickback features in the design. (One of reasons it would be almost suicidal to try to use this bit in a router).

There are in fact 3 wheel cutter router bits available – 40mm, 50mm and 60mm. With the quality carbide cutting edge, these bits will each produces 1000s of wheels.


The wheels it produces have rounded edges, and an inset hub. They work obviously well as wheels for toy cars, or doubled up as wheels for toy trucks etc, but they can also be used in other ways.


As toy taps, or knobs on stoves, even one cut into a 1/3 as a clasp to hold a hinged (toy) oven door shut.

To use the bit, you cut the first half of the wheel, then turn the blank over. Using the axle hole created on the first side, align the blank up for the second cut. The wheel will break loose leaving a very thin ridge of wood (that if this were a metal casting, would be known as a parting line – don’t know its term here) that is easily removed by being snapped of, or with a quick sanding.

Some timber is prone to tearout, and given the wheel is cut circular manner, there is with-grain and cross-grain portions. If there is excessive tearout, it can be minimised by taking longer to perform the cut, especially slowing near completion.

In any respect, this bit creates toy wheels very quickly and easily, and you soon find that you don’t want to throw offcuts away, at least not until you have cut as many holes as possible to make more wheels!

Clubhouse Furniture

It may not be every kid’s dream to have a playhouse, but it is for many, and what better than having one fully furbished! A wooden stove and sink make great additions for hours of imaginative play, and quality, handmade wooden furniture beats modern commercial plastic junk every day of the week.

These designs use standard pine stock available from all hardware stores, and can be made without needing a vast array of tools. You can easily customize the designs to suit the range of tools that you have, and your skill level. A table mounted router is not critical, but it certainly will make the job much easier.

There are common elements to both units, and so you will find that it is much easier to make both at the same time, rather than making one after the other. No doubt, once you finish these units, you will have requests by other children (or their parents) for more of these, but at the very least, I would expect an invite to a (playhouse) dinner!

The basic construction principle is frame and panel, and is joined together using your favourite technique. I used biscuit joints throughout my version, but you could use dowels, pocket holes, or even butt joints reinforced with wood screws. The raised panels themselves can be made with specialist rail & stile router bits, or more simply with a half-lap frame, or even a mitered frame.

Exploded CAD view of sink

CAD view of Sink Unit

To start, create the side walls, using 42x19mm pine, and 90x19mm pine for the base. The panel is cut from a sheet of 6mm plywood. The panel is fitted by rebating a 10mm groove all round the frame, and the panel is cut 20mm oversize, so it fills the rebate completely. The back of each unit is made the same way, sized to match the unit. I made the sink unit wider, so I could fit 2 smaller doors, rather than a single large door. As I decided to decorate each door with a 3D pattern (the Dolphin, from Carb-i-tool), this dictated the minimum width of each door, and therefore the width of the cabinet overall.

Detail of Door

The front of the unit is a pine frame, made in pretty much the same way as the side and rear panels, but without the insert. The doors were then attached to the front using self-closing hinges. This meant the doors would not tend to swing out on their own accord, and I didn’t have to add extra hardware to keep the doors shut. The doors themselves are a mini version of the side panels, with commercially produced wooden knobs.

The stove is a little different, as there is no frame for the front. Instead it has the control panel at the top, and a baseboard holding the sides together. Wooden wheels are used as dials (made using the Carb-i-tool wheel cutter, but you could also use a holecutter equally as well), and another is cut down to provide a latch to hold the oven door shut. The lower panel has a 45 degree taper, matching a 45 degree taper in the bottom of the oven door.

The oven door is made by joining two boards together (using either biscuits or dowels), then the oven window is cut out with a jigsaw. You could, if you chose, make a replaceable insert to fit behind the oven window, and on this glue pictures of what is currently cooking, so the child can change the picture, depending on the meal. The handle is easily cut with the jigsaw, and attached by glue and screws. The 45 degree taper on the lower panel and the door is very important. Firstly, so the oven door can open (very important), and secondly for strength. When the oven door is fully opened, the tapers meet, providing extra support for the hinges. When the child then climbs on top of the door to clean the oven, it helps to stop the hinges from breaking off.

Stove Unit

Oven Detail

The floor is made of 19mm pine, for the extra strength needed if the unit is used in a game of hide & seek! Under the floor are support uprights, to transfer any weight directly to the ground. You can leave the bottom of the units flush with the ground, or use a jigsaw to cut a bit of a decorative lower edge.

The top of the stove and sink are made with either 19mm pine, (which needs to be joined to get the required width), or 12-15mm plywood. In the photos, the sink is pine, the stove is ply. The stove elements are made using a jigsaw and a home made circle cutting jig (simply a board with a nail that the jigsaw is affixed to). You could also do this with a router, a scrollsaw, or ideally, a bandsaw.

Sink Unit CAD

For the sink unit, an opening is cut with a jigsaw for the sink itself. The taps are again made with a wheel cutter or holecutter, and the faucet cut with a jigsaw.

Sink Unit

Sink Cupboard

The sink itself is a real feature of the entire set. You could buy a plastic container to be used as the sink, or you could do what I have done here, and make your own. It is made by cutting a number of U shapes (these do not have to be accurate at this stage), which are glued together to obtain the required width of the sink. If you were really keen, you could use a different wood for every second U shape which would produce a stunning effect. Once the shapes are glued together, you need a bandsaw to cut out the inside of the sink. If you do not have a bandsaw, you need to cut the U shapes very accurately so you are able to avoid this step. Next, glue the front and back onto the sink, and when dry, cut the outside of the sink shape. That is it to get this stunning sink. If you intend to let the sink be filled, you need to use a waterproof glue, and provide some form of drainage, and to seal the sink so water cannot rot it.

Exploded CAD View of Sink Design

Depending on access to the individual components, I round all corners off to remove sharp edges, and potential splinters. The finish is a matter of personal preference. In this case, I left the cabinets unfinished, so the parents of the child they were for could choose whether to paint, stain and varnish, poly, or leave as raw timber.

All in all, it is a very satisfying project, that is not particularly difficult, and can be made in a weekend.

Episode 11 Router Bit Carbitool Wheel Cutter

Episode 11 Carbitool Wheel Cutter

Carb-i-tool is a Melbourne manufacturing company, producing very high quality router bits in a myriad of styles and designs. One of their rather unique designs is the Wheel Cutter. It comes in 3 sizes – 40mm, 50mm and 60mm. It is not strictly a router bit, as it is designed to be used in the drill press, and quickly and easily turns offcuts into toy wheels!

The wheels have a nice profile, with a rounded rim, and indented hub. The bits have a large chunk of tungsten carbide, and will produce 1000s of wheels!

Carb-i-tool router bits can be found at a number of outlets, including The Tool Centre, Mitre 10, and their stand can also be seen (with a large range of bits) at many of the Working with Wood Shows. If you wat to find a supplier near you, contact Carb-i-tool by email at sales@carbitool.com.au, or through their website www.carbitool.com.au. You will find their current catalogue online there as well. One of the things I find very impressive is the fact that if there isn’t a bit there that you specifically need, they can make any other profile to order. They also offer a sharpening service for you router bits and saw blades, which from memory is in the vicinity of $5 for a router bit.

This is a new segment for Stu’s Shed – Router Bit of-the-month. Credit for the concept actually goes to Matt’s Basement Workshop, an American Podcast you can also find on iTunes.

Carb-i-tool have very generously supported Stu’s Shed with this segment, and have provided a number of bits that we will review over the coming months.

The background noise in the video is rain – can’t seem to do much about it – the only times I get a chance to shoot some footage recently seems to be the only time it rains around here! Seeing as we are in the middle of a very bad drought, I guess we can’t complain, but the timing is…..unfortunate! Been chatting with one of my colleagues, and I’m going to play more with how I record audio in the future. I guess while we are learning more about woodworking, I’m on quite an interesting learning curve about video production!

When all’s said and done, hope you are enjoying the results, and the authenticness of this being a real video, shot in a real shed….our own little reality show….I should have called it “Little Brother”.

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