First Rattle for my First Son. :-)

  • Advertise with us
Project by SchwartzTheYounger posted 07-18-2012 08:59 AM 3577 views 5 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was a project full of firsts for me. This was my first toy build. My first project that wasn’t fixed in place (ie cabinets, book shelves, etc.) I created my first dovetail joint on this project. It was my first project that involved shaping, and the first time I used a finish other than paint. And, I think it was quite appropriate that what I built was for my first child.

I had just finished building a wall of bookshelves to create a baby’s room (I intend to submit that project when I’m done painting it), and I had some scrap left over from the poplar I used to trim it out. I was thinking about what I could use the scrap for when I came up with a simple design for a baby rattle. It didn’t require much material, and for a budding hobbyist with a small tool arsenal it was within my ability to create (although I had to use some inventive techniques).

NOTE I should clarify that when I say I came up with the design I don’t doubt that others have done this before me. But, I did not consult any plans or the internet when it began forming in my mind. :-)

As seen in the SketchUp pic, the construction is very simple. Three disks are glued together, with the center disk hollowed out to house a noise maker (I used popcorn kernels because that’s what I had on hand.) The handle is also attached to the center disk using a dovetail joint. Thankfully, the dovetail is hidden by the two outer disks because it ended up looking like something Pablo Picasso would’ve made. But, it was a real snug joint which is what really mattered for this project. I don’t have a band saw or even a jig saw yet, so I cut out the three disks using a cordless drill and a Lenox 2 3/8” hole saw with the guide bit removed. I know what ya’ll are thinking, and yes I tore up some boards trying to get the saw to grip and cut a smooth circle. But, I was eventually successful. Although, I did put the guide bit back on for the center piece because it didn’t matter if there was a hole through the center, it was going to be hollowed out anyway. When I had three pieces that were good enough to glue together I cut out the middle of the center piece using a coping saw. I also used the coping saw to cut the dovetail joint because that was the best option I had. Once I had all the pieces cut I did a dry fit testing different types and quantities of noise fillers I could find (I settled on popcorn kernels). Then I glued and clamped it together (remembering to put the popcorn in) using Titebond II. The 4th picture shows the rattle fresh out of the clamps.

Next came the fun part…shaping. I didn’t have a rasp to start with so I used an old technique I discover when I was a boy. My brother and I used to make spears for forts and war games when we were little. But, we had to come up with inventive ways to whittle the points because our mom didn’t want us to have sharp knives (do you see the irony in this?) We discovered that when you rubbed a stick on concrete you could shape it into a point. I started using this technique, followed by sandpaper, to shape the rattle. But, I only shaped one half of the rattle before I broke down and bought a 4-in-1 rasp from Woodcraft on the tail end of a Father’s Day sale (Happy Father’s Day to me!) All that to say, that just because you don’t have a lot of tools doesn’t mean you can’t create something; it’s just a lot easier when you do have the tools. So, with a rasp in hand I finished up the shaping and made the handle thinner to suit a baby sized palm. Then I prepped it for finishing with a lot, A LOT of hand sanding (this thing was basically all end grain).

For a finish I used 5 coats of amber shellac (because a baby toy will eventually go in a baby mouth) wiping it on with a cloth. I gave it a light sanding with 220 grit after the 1st & 2nd coat, and 320 grit after the 3rd & 4th coat. After the 5th coat I buffed it with a paper grocery bag. I think it turned out pretty well. When I look at it I see plenty of things I would like to improve upon, but as a project full of firsts I am thrilled with the results. I hope ya’ll like it.

PS I just had to throw in a second picture of my son (because I thinks he’s so awesome and cute). ;-)

-- Eric Schwartz (Versailles, KY), Bliss is teaching your son to use a tool.

16 comments so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30677 posts in 3790 days

#1 posted 07-18-2012 09:39 AM

Not sure which is cooler, your rattle or you son! Awesome job on both!

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Brandon's profile


4382 posts in 4403 days

#2 posted 07-18-2012 11:32 AM

Great work! I like your caveman technique of shaping the wood. ;-) I have a boy on the way and will have to make one of these once I’m done with all the nursery projects. Thanks for posting it!

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Ethan Harris's profile

Ethan Harris

300 posts in 3596 days

#3 posted 07-18-2012 12:43 PM

I love the simple things and this is an awesome piece. I am sure he loves it!

-- Ethan, CT: Check out my Small Business at & also follow me on twitter

View IndianJoe's profile


425 posts in 3702 days

#4 posted 07-18-2012 01:03 PM

What Monte Pittman sad I can say no more Nice work keep going make more of each will give a helping hand on one lol

-- Nimkee** Joe

View Kookaburra's profile


749 posts in 3676 days

#5 posted 07-18-2012 01:20 PM

I am with Monte too – both of these are projects to be proud of. And with you as a dad, it sounds like SchwartzTheEvenYounger is going to have a great life. Congrats all around.

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 3640 days

#6 posted 07-18-2012 05:05 PM

Nice ! I think he agrees !

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4786 days

#7 posted 07-18-2012 05:09 PM

It’s always very satisfying to have a happy customer, and your customer looks very happy. Well done rattle.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View spunwood's profile


1202 posts in 4288 days

#8 posted 07-19-2012 01:08 AM

What a great picture…and project. Congrats and well done.

-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

View SchwartzTheYounger's profile


20 posts in 3611 days

#9 posted 07-19-2012 01:25 AM

Thanks everyone. I think this is definately my best work yet. And, I’m happy with how the rattle turned too. ;-)

-- Eric Schwartz (Versailles, KY), Bliss is teaching your son to use a tool.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 4142 days

#10 posted 07-19-2012 01:41 AM

Awesome job on the rattle and your customer is obviously well pleased. What a great looking boy! I have another grand DAUGHTER on the way. I was really hoping for a boy this time. You are blessed to have a son this cute. (must have a good mama) LOL

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View hjt's profile


906 posts in 4590 days

#11 posted 07-19-2012 01:48 AM

He’s going to enjoy that for his enter life and had it to his children.

-- Harold

View Vrtigo1's profile


434 posts in 4443 days

#12 posted 07-19-2012 03:23 AM

This is great. Such inventive ways to get around not having a lot of tools, and in my opinion there is no greater project than one you make for your son. I built a rocking horse when Marc (aka thewoodwhisperer) was doing his charity build a few months back and gave it to my son for his 1st birthday. Every time he walks over to it and starts rocking like crazy I get the biggest, dumbest grin on my face. Make sure you hang on to that one, I have a feeling it will stay in the family for a long time!

View SchwartzTheYounger's profile


20 posts in 3611 days

#13 posted 07-19-2012 03:53 AM

Thanks Vrtigo. I know exactly what you mean. My son is just starting to pick things up when we give them to him. So, when I walk into the room to see momma has given him the rattle and he’s shakin that thing like there’s no tomorrow…man, I start strutin like a rooster. :-)

I love following Marc too. It was actually from watching his videos that made me consider using the shaping technique and the rasp. Before that I thought that shaping was what you did with a router (because that’s what Norm does). :-)

-- Eric Schwartz (Versailles, KY), Bliss is teaching your son to use a tool.

View ElmoSr's profile


243 posts in 4478 days

#14 posted 07-19-2012 11:00 AM

I cant add anything to what has been said,,,great work and a beautiful son,,,good on you

-- ElmoSr,Ga. Life is Hard by the Yard,,,But a Cinch by the Inch

View scrimman's profile


87 posts in 3678 days

#15 posted 07-19-2012 12:14 PM

So, this must be Schwartz the youngest. Cute kid. Oh, nice rattle, too!~

-- No matter where you go, there you are!

showing 1 through 15 of 16 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics