Life on the frozen tundra of South Dakota Life on the frozen tundra of South Dakota

Completed December 2003

Completed December 2003

My son's birthday is on Christmas Eve (not our idea.) There were five kids total in his play group that had birthdays close to the same time, so we had a big birthday party for everyone. I decided to make them all toy cars as presents.

I took a profile photo of a car and copied it to the size I wanted as a pattern. Knowing that the projects would be painted, I selected MDF because it was inexpensive and machines well. I cut four lengths of MDF and glued them up into a 3" wide blank. I then glued a copy of the car pattern to the blank, and cut out each of the bodies on the band saw. I had to do quite a bit of sanding to remove the bandsaw scratches and smooth things out. Once the bodies were done, I drilled the hole for the axles, and rounded the edges with a 1/4" roundover bit.

Next, I attached more copies of the patterns to MDF and cut out the fender/running board pieces using my scroll saw. I only cut the top edges of the pieces, then rounded them over using a 1/2" roundover bit. I had to take care to make left and right sides of the fenders when routing the fenders, so on half of them I routed on the pattern side, and on the other half I routed on the back side. Once the pieces were routed I finished the cuts, and glued the fender pieces to the body blanks.

I tried making wheels out of MDF using a hole saw, but discovered quickly that it burned the wood badly and would have taken a long time. So, I broke down and bought wooden wheels at Hobby Lobby. While I was there I picked up some 1/4" dowel for the axles.

After final sanding I painted each car a different color. For some reason I had a hard time getting the paint to stick to the MDF, especially where the scroll saw or router had burnished the wood to a high sheen. So I wound up putting the paint on very thick to compensate for this problem. Consequently I wound up with some runs in the paint, but seeing as the cars would see heavy abuse in a few days I wasn't too worried about it.

The car pictured here is my son's. I painted it using left over paint from when I repainted my motorcycle. You can see some scratches and dents from where he's played with it, dropped it and ran it into other objects, but that's what a toy is for, isn't it?

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