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I wood if I could.
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I few weeks ago I was asked if I'd make some sort of center pieces for the dining tables at Lakeland Woodworking club's annual banquet. I accepted. It took me a week or so to decide what I wanted to make. I wanted something different. I found a cool pattern in a book by Bob Gilsdorf and proceeded to order a couple hundred 3/4" hardwood balls. They finally came in on the 1st of this month, leaving me a week to get them done. I got done at 5AM the morning they were needed (Sat the 9th).

There were 9 dining tables. I made 16 of these things and they were a huge hit. You guys might find charm in them as well. I don't have time right now to post all about them so I'll have to start now and continue tomorrow.

Here's the way I began; by dodging knots in pine and laying out the drill then cut the first of MANY joints.

Wood Table Plywood Tool Furniture


Here's the appendage portions. But they are far from done at this point.

Musical instrument


As you'll soon see, I'm building ball joint robots. In order to drill the holes for the fingers at the right angle (and to prevent excessive tear-out) I made a simple drilling jig.

Wood Tile Floor Plywood Flooring


I drilled the jig at the desired angles.

Wood Table Furniture Plywood Beam


Then I cut out the inside to fit the largest hand blank I'd cut. All others are held into the jig by wedging with a tapered skewer then clamping the whole assembly into a vise.

Wood Table Machine Plywood
 

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I wood if I could.
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The drilling jig worked as planned. Here's what the drilled blanks looked like.

Wood Hardwood Wood stain Wood block Wooden block


After a little shaping on my shop-built vertical belt sander they reached this stage, ready to be outfitted with dowels.

Here's the first 6 pairs of shaped hands.

Wood Hardwood


Then with the fingers. I chamfered the fingertips for a more pleasing appearance, but I don't think you can really tell from the photo.

Wood Tableware Cutlery


Here's the joints for all of the hands. I drilled all of the balls myself.

Food Navy beans Ingredient Cuisine Common bean


Let's give the boys a hand.

Origami
 

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I wood if I could.
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That's a lot of holes. Laughing!!!!
This is interesting but why only 4 fingers per hand? Are these aliens. Lol
They're the genetically mutated offspring of a nearly extinct race of tree gnomes who had an unfavorable run-in with the Loc-Nar.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
It's tomorrow we are waiting lol
Yeah I hear ya'! :thumbsup:
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I meant to also show the finger hole sides of the shaped hands:

Wood Hardwood Games Table


Agony of de'-feet:



Here's a few more joints to keep this party 'hopping'.

Food Navy beans Plant Ingredient Vegetable


Each of the appendage parts (single and double joint) consists of two pieces of wood, which will be screwed together to capture the joint balls and to allow for tuning of each assembled joint. Each is cut/drilled from a 1/4" thick "half" and a 3/4" thick "half". Here I have some of the single socket pieces ready to sand. But at this stage I'm only sanding the two faces of the 1/4 thick part. That will then be screwed in place - affixed to the thicker half - and the entire piece smoothed and shaped on the belt sander (except for the already-sanded face with the screw heads). After that, each joint must be fine tuned upon assembly to make the connector tight enough but not too tight. It's quite the assembly line project.

It's critical to keep each accompanying "halfs" of the appendage sections together, for they are drilled to match. Accidentally spilling the batch would lead to extreme frustration and tedium in matching the parts to their counterparts... and a few words of unsavory diction.

Workbench Toolroom Sewing machine Machine Wood


Meet: the soon-to-be "en-membered" bodies. They're head and shoulders above the rest. Notice that most heads are glued on with a slight sideways turn. I figured I shouldn't have them all just facing straight ahead. Need to break up the straight line of the belly and back.

Table Wood Architecture
 

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I wood if I could.
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Here's all of the double socket joints, still in rough-out.

Wood Electronic instrument


In making all of these parts I ended up with a nice pile of the square rings that I hope I can find a use for some day. Anyway, these are not part of the project; they are cutoff scraps. But I can't bring myself to throw them away.

On a second - equally irrelevant - note, these cutoffs reinforce my idea for what I was going to do for last years' 2x4 contest with my woodcarving club. I ended up making a chair instead (out of a single 8' 2x4). I'll be implementing my plan for sure this year (in a couple of months from now). I can't tell you guys my plan yet (I'd hate to have to kill you). But I promise it will be a woodworking project likely to be unlike any ever posted on this forum. Maybe any forum. And I will post it here when it takes place.

So, uhm, yeah...

Wood Font woodworking Puzzle Toy


Not handicapped: handiCAPABLE! Dur.

Carving Wood Table Art


Here sit the single socket pieces, awaiting final sanding/shaping on the vertical green abrasion conveyor.

Games Indoor games and sports Architecture Scale model Recreation


1/2 of them have undergone the above-mentioned operation and have their ball joint installed.

 

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I wood if I could.
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
They've been officially endowed with biceps and thighs.

Scale model Wood Architecture Table woodworking


Here where I was at 1:30 AM the morning I needed to have them done. All of the double joints on the cart at the right still had to be taken through the process of sanding both faces of the 1/4" "half", screwing them to the other half, sanding/shaping, unscrewing, fine-tuning, installing, admiring, sleeping.



It's a 5 AM rave at Steve's! Party over here!

Table Furniture Chair woodworking Machine


Games Table Indoor games and sports Recreation


My and my dominion the next morning. Tired, worn out. Happy to have met my challenge of making so many of these in such a limited amount of time. Tired.

Machine Robot Table Fictional character
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Can for scale. These measure 17" tall to the tops of their heads.

Machine Sculpture Table Wood Carving


Hey, I don't know nuttin'

Technology Signage Animation Sign Pedestrian


Right this way, folks!

Toy Animation Action figure Figurine Technology


I swear, they're were only THIS tall!

Robot Toy Figurine Machine Technology


Wickie, wickie, WORD.

Toy Robot Technology Figurine Wood
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I let the club raffle off three of these at the banquet on Sat. One now resides in my shop, sitting on a shelf, watching me work. And one will be given to my wife and one to our son for Valentine's day tomorrow. I know my son wants one BADLY. He keeps trying to get (read: begging) me to sell him one :laughing:

The rest of the gang is up for sale.

now that is purty dang cool bud!! Are you going to finish them with anything?
Thank you. Yeah, practically everyone who's seen these in person has falling in love with their cuteness and 'cool factor'. Including myself.

No, they are being left unfinished.

_____


All in all, the construction of these 16 robots took a whopping 880 separate wooden parts. If you count the screws, the whole collection is comprised of 1,072 parts!

I want to post some more close-ups of some of them in cool poses. But I'll wait until there are 20 posts first (almost there) so the thread will roll over to another page. I don't want to make you guys' laptops and phones have to bog down too much more to view the pages.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Thats a good job Steve, you can make a movie with those fellows :)
I thought about how cool it would be to use them in some stop motion animation.

While I don't plan on doing that, I do intend to make a few humorous accessories for mine, my wife's and son's. And maybe have a few available for the ones I try to sell.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Uh, do you guys have any "tree-free" rump ribbon up in here?

Wood Robot Toy Sculpture Machine


Hi, Ya'll!

Animation Art Robot


Ready, set, go.

Toy Figurine Robot Joint Animation


Teeth are chattering.

Art Figurine Toy Games Robot


Flashdance!

Toy Joint Figurine Animation Wood
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Thanks for looking in and posting comments, guys. I thought you might enjoy these. I love making things that are different from the more common, expected types of projects.

Here's the book I got the pattern from: Zany Wooden Toys That Whiz, Spin, Pop, and Fly: Bob Gilsdorf: 9781565233942: Amazon.com: Books

There are some really novel and clever projects in there. Mind you, I did design my own torso (using the same overall dimensions) and cosmetics. I also re-dimensioned the ball joints. Fortunately, I had enough sense to make a test ball joint - using the exact dimensions in the plans - to troubleshoot any possible problems before committing to the design. As that was a hell of a lot of parts to risk cutting and drilling them all then having to scrap 'em and start over. And I found that the called-for dimensions DON'T quite work right. Yes, I used the correct size of ball called for in the plans. The hole was way too large and the centering of the slot was off. So I went with a smaller hole and opening, which I centered for more balanced appearance. The dimensions in the plans would leave you unable to tighten the joint without major inside sanding, which would have thrown off the appearance even worse.

I also used shorter dowels on the joints than called for in the plans. Well, I started with the length called for then found that I had to trim every single one of them. I did come up with a very quick, simple way to trim them all to the same length after the balls were already glued on. So I learned a cool trick while I was at it that might also come in handy in the future. The length they labeled on the drawings would have made the joints too long and weird-looking. The way I did the eyes was my idea too. When I first saw the ball joint robot project in the book I knew I wanted to make one and I'm so glad I did. Despite the minor dimension issues in the plans, I had a blast making these. And building 16 at once only upped the fun factor.

My advice to all: buy the book and make yourself one of these articulated ball joint robots. You won't be disappointed. If I didn't make these under such a time crunch I would have made at least one of them from walnut and exotics. But I don't know that I feel like making any more of these any time soon. Maybe some day. If they sell well, however, I'll be all for making another batch. :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
Explaination of how I drilled the balls.

I was asked (by a member of the woodworking club I'm in) to explain how I went about drilling all of the 3/4" wooden balls. I figured I should post it here as well in case any one wonders.

Damn near every one of these balls had to be drilled with a 1/4" for the robot project.

Food Vegetable Chickpea Navy beans Bean


I put down a piece of scrap board on my drill press table. See the hole highlighted black? That's what the ball sat on.

Wood Hardwood Wood stain Pink Table


Another, smaller, piece of scrap was then drilled with a stepped drill bit to form a tapered hole that was 3/4" at the widest.

Leather Material property Hand Wood Finger


I then pressed a ball into the tapered hole (finger tight).

Table Wood


Finally, I held the holding block ball-side-down onto the hole in the wood on the drill press table and set up a fence (for quick indexing), which I clamped in place. Now all I had to do was press down on the holder block (about 3/16" gap exists between the sacrificial board and the holder block) tight enough to prevent the ball from spinning and drill the hole.

Wood Hardwood Finger Table Hand


I used a bamboo chopstick (a dowel would work fine) to pop the drilled ball out of the tapered hole. Insert the next one and continue on. Almost perfect holes every time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
I failed to mention that a brad point bit should be used. And, of course, the hole in the sacrificial table should be centered with respect to the drill bit/chuck. So drill it first. Then change to the bit you need to drill into the ball WITHOUT moving the table.
 

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Discussion Starter · #43 ·
More like "Chillin in the WOOD!"

Steve, these are awesome, and you really cranked them out. I think that these would make really awesome Christmas presents too, for people of all ages. Thanks for posting this, and so early in the year, so that we have time to try to crank out a bunch of them.
You're right about that. I can promise you that people - young and old - just adore these things. They'd make excellent gifts.

Okay, I finally caught up with this thread. I've been busy and haven't been able to read as much as I would like to. Let me say that these are AWESOME. I just spent some time going through the thread with Mrs Kenbo and we both enjoyed it very much. She really wants you to take the suggestion of doing "Thriller" with the robots. The poses are hilarious and I love how you made all of these in a quick time. A man after my own heart with the time restraints and doing, what seems to be, an impossible task. Awesome work, great final product and just a fun thread. I can tell that you had a "ball" making these. :yes:
Nicely done Steve.
Thank you. I really did have a ball making these. 192 of them, to be exact. :thumbsup:

Alright, alright... I'll see what I can do about the Thriller dance. I've actually, just yesterday, sold one of the 11 un-spoken-for robots. But it's still in my possession until Monday morning, when I must ship it out. So I'll try to get a Thriller picture either tonight or tomorrow, including as many of the robots as possible.

I'll also get pictures when I make the comedic accessories I think I mentioned earlier on. I think you guys will get a kick out of it/them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #45 ·
If you're familiar with my posting it may not surprise you to be told that I did not get a chance to pose the Thriller shots this weekend. I still have a previous project scattered about on the main workbench. I expected to have gotten them done Sat. But life preempted. I did get closer to done though. But I need to get it done so I can clear the bench again to make room for more photo ops. As soon as I do I'll take care of that. It might be another day or two.

In the meantime, here's what a robot looks like when it has to fit in a USPS medium flat rate shipping box.

Toy woodworking Wood Art Machine


Wood woodworking


The project currently occupying the real estate (AKA dance floor) involves these 8 little birdies. Look for a thread about the "Pecking Chickens" soon.

Finger Food Cuisine
 

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Discussion Starter · #47 ·
Not only are those really cool. When I showed the pics of them in different poses to our boys they started to imitate the poses then just started cracking up. You really made me smile with this one, thanks!
Now that's some good stuff right there. Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #52 ·
I don't think I could ever find the patience to make that many of the same thing at one time. They are so very cool and I had a good laugh at the poses with quotes... great stuff Steve!
Johnnie, you definitely have to be in the zone or it can drive you nuts. And assembly line mentality is the ONLY way to go. In other words, perform all of one step first - if possible - then the next. That's how I've been making all of my bulk items. It'll also keep you committed to the final count when you've already got the process underway.

I've also been making train whistles and 11-piece sets of silly stick mustaches, for example, in the same manner. same with my coin mazes. And i have a lot more planned. If you make each one from start to finish, one at a time, it will be much more tedious and take a lot longer per unit.

Well, I gotta say it..... I ordered that book today. I definitely plan on making those as gifts, because I know alot WILL enjoy them for many different reasons.

Can't wait to see the Thriller pics!
It's a cool book. The idea for my coin mazes came from that book as well. But I elaborated upon mine and took it to a whole other level (both in function and in appearance) than the simple one in the book.

I've been thinking about making one of the gumball machines in that book as well. Nearly every piece in the book is painted. I'd make mine with different woods, and possibly a little staining as well, to achieve the multi-colored look.

Oh and the cool soccer players on sticks... yeah, you'll find some great inspiration in Mr. Gilsdorf's book. It's definitely a worthy purchase.

A WORD OF CAUTION: Make sure you make a test ball and socket joint before committing to the final dimensions. You'll find the dimensions in the book to be a little off. I drilled my socket holes smaller than called for and adjusted the notch as well. I'd have been super pissed if I'd drilled and cut all those pieces only to then discover that the joints are way too loose!

I can post a picture outlining my alterations if you want. The dimensions I went with look better (centered properly) and are, if I may say, the "correct" dimensions.

Thriller pics are definitely on my to-do list.
 
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