BABY ACTIVITY GYM

 

I never tire of making toys. When I found out our neighbors were expecting their first child, I couldn’t wait to get started on finding something unique I could make for the new baby.

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This looked like a fun challenge. To bend the wood I’ve had good luck resawing boards into thin strips which are easy to form around a jig. The first step was to draw an arc on a board. I used a 20” radius which seemed like it would be a good height for the mobile.Then attach several short 2x2s along that arc with pocket hole screws.Redraw the arc on the 2x2s and label each piece.

 

On the band saw cut along the arc lines.

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Reattach the 2×2 pieces and save the cut off parts to use for clamping.

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Measure how long you need for the arc, and add at least 4 inches because you will be making three legs. Each leg you bend gets longer because the radius keeps getting bigger. Rip the 1x2s thin enough that they will bend around your radius without snapping. You will need to select wood without any knots that could contribute to breaking. For the pine I used, I cut the 1x2s into 5 equal strips.

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Glue up all 5 strips for the first leg and wrap wax paper around the leg as you clamp. Start at one end, tightening each clamp as you go. Sorry I didn’t get more pictures of this process, but once I started clamping I didn’t want to stop to take any pictures because it is a time crunch, clamping before the glue starts to set up. If you’re concerned about this you may want to use Titebond III which has longer set up time.

 

After the first leg has set up, leave that leg along the form and bend the second leg around the first one, with the same process. Then when #2 has set up, repeat with the third leg with the radius continuing to getting bigger.

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Using a planer I smoothed out the edges. Now you can cut the legs to the finished length and drill the holes for the pivoting bolt and for the mobile hangings. I set my holes at 5” center to center.

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I love my 1/16 inch radius roundover bit for smoothing the edges.

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I used a 5/16 stove bolt with a nylon insert locking nut. Stack 2 or 3 washers in between legs to allow space for the ribbons when folding the mobile up.

 

Get creative when coming up with eye catching things to hang. I wrapped plenty of ribbon around the legs and tied an easily removable knot since I wasn’t exactly sure of the heighth that would be proper. (Yes, this is for a baby boy. I couldn’t resist throwing in the saw.)

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This folds up easily for convenient storage.

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