American Hard Maple - The Real Deal
|How to Make
This is our
"Simple Set" of instructions.
Click here for the
Warning: The topic covered on this page includes activities in which there exists the potential for serious injury or death. We do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information contained here. Always use proper safety precautions and safety equipment and keep all tool guards in place.
This set of
instructions is intended for the person who has considerable
familiarity with woodworking tools and the terms associated with
A serviceable set of school size blocks can be made at home by a
practiced woodworker. We give directions for making hardwood blocks but
the instructions can easily be adapted to making blocks from SPF stock
from your local lumber store. The plan is based on our "Base Set A,"
and a contents list can be obtained by going to the
List of Pieces for this
set and printing it.
Using SPF and Other Woods
Plane the Stock
Use your planer to plane the thick stock
to 1-3/8. Plane both sides and use a caliper to get it exactly the
correct thickness. Use your planer to plane the thin stock to 11/16.
Rip the Stock
Using a sharp rip blade on
your table saw, rip the following stock. You should have plenty of
lumber to do this and you can easily end up with extra if your original
lumber was high quality.
Plane the edges
Use your planer to plane both edges of the wide
stock stock to 2-3/4. Use your planer to plane both edges of the
narrow stock to 1-3/8.
Rout the edges
Using a small rounding bit on a router or shaper,
round or chamfer the edges of the sticks. This is easiest on a
small router table, but it can be done by hand.
You should now have
molding more or less in the amounts given above.
Chop the Blocks
Chop the blocks to length on your table saw with a crosscut sled or
a miter bar using an ultra sharp, carbide crosscut blade (about 60 ATB teeth for
a 10" saw). The object is to make the requisite number of 22 inch, 11
inch, 5-1/2 inch, and 2-3/4 inch pieces. You can eliminate all of the
knots if you wish or, if there are sound knots, leave them. In general,
a simple miter saw won't work very well as it tends toward a lot of edge
chipping. Some of the new sliders may work better, but a table saw is
probably the best. A radial arm saw may also work, but most of them
have a lot of slop in the track.
Triangles, Wedges and other stuff
Making these pieces requires a band saw
complete with a fence, a circle cutting
attachment and numerous jigs. The
latter can be made by slitting a piece of
Masonite to run along the fence on your
Band Saw and then gluing stops in place to
hold a blank at the proper angle.
Using a jig and the fence, cut triangles
and wedges out of the 5-1/2 inch and 2-3/4
inch blocks by cutting them diagonally.
These are made from dowels though
1-3/8 dowels may be hard to find. The largest dowels in lumber stores
are typically 1-1/4 (Ramen). Anything bigger is a special order. Sometimes
Closet pole and banister rail material is available in 1-3/8. This is
usually Fir, so be careful about splinters. If you have a lathe, here's
your chance to make some spiffy columns out of anything you want. While
you're at it, make a few onion domes for minarets and churches.
Sand the end faces, sweep the end-edges, and bump
the corners of the blocks to round them on a stationary belt sander.
Copyright 2003 Barclay Wood
Toys and Blocks, Inc.
207 N. Main St., PO Box 819
Hebron, Indiana 46341