Category Archives: Kid Projects
October 31, 2014Posted by on
In mid September, my wife asked the kids what they wanted to be for Halloween and my son was having a hard time coming up with something. An idea popped into my head and I suggested to him that he could be “Lord Business” from the Lego movie. His eyes immediately lit up. A quick search turned up absolutely no results for Lord Business kid costumes. My son had already set his heart on the idea, so we had no choice but to make the costume ourselves. Boy… is this a slippery slope!
I had heard the term “cosplay” before, but had NO IDEA how intense and creative this hobby could be. After doing (far too much) research on costume making, I decided my son and I could take on this project and have a bunch of fun doing it. I didn’t have a lot of time to order materials, so I had to improvise on a few things. Luckily, at work we were going through a big cleanup of our facilities so I was able to get most of my materials from stuff that was destined to be thrown out. Mainly cardboard boxes and foam.
- Scavenged Foam + Additional Foam Roll from Wal-Mart
- 3M 77 Spray
- Hot glue gun
- Sandpaper (various grits)
- Paintable Caulk
- Rustoleum FlexiDip Spray Paint
- Utility Knife
- Electric Carving Knife
- Scroll Saw (optional, but it helps)
I should mention that I didn’t have any template to work from. However, I did find some 3D models someone had made of the shoulder pads and helmet. I downloaded those files and used this website to view them. This made a huge difference in how accurate I could get with the dimensions of the costume.
I should also mention that the Wal-Mart poly foam (used for seat cushions etc.) was not very dense, which made it much more difficult to cut and sculp. My scavenged foam was pretty dense and made cutting and sanding a lot easier.
I wanted the shoulder pads to be more rigid, so I decided to use cardboard as a base layer with foam on top of the cardboard to give it dimension. I used my tape measure to take some quick/rough measurements of my son from the top of his shoulders to the middle of his chest, as well as how wide and deep his head was. I almost screwed up by making the opening of the shoulder pads too small, which would have meant he couldn’t get it over his head! Using a straight edge, tape measure and a utility knife…. I laid out my template and made my cuts, including cut outs for the tie.
One little trick I used to get the cardboard to bend consistently and straight was to flip over the cardboard and carefully cut out a “V” along the bend line without puncturing all the way through the cardboard. This made the cardboard bend in a straight line without wrinkling.
After cutting all my foam pieces and glueing them to the cardboard, I used the black FlexiDip to paint the whole shoulder pad piece. I also decided to replace the cardboard tie with a foam tie so that I could bevel the edges. The red FlexiDip covered the tie pretty well because the foam was white.
Finally, I used a hot glue gun to attach the tie pieces to the shoulder pads and then added some elastic (not pictured) to help keep them in place.
I can’t take much credit for the cape. My wife has developed some sewing skills over the past couple years and volunteered to help. She found a cheap, red Wal-Mart bed sheet to use. Because the actual lego cape is stiff, she sewed two pieces together so we could fill it with foam (to keep it stiff) if we wanted. I had some extra volera foam left over from making a poker table a couple years back, so i decided to cut a triangle shape out of it to stuff into the bottom of the cape. This kept the bottom spread out without adding too much weight. To attach the cape to the shoulder pads, I simply hot glued some velcro onto the cape and shoulders pads.
The helmet was much more difficult to make with all of the odd angles involved and the fact that I was making it out of foam. Because I didn’t have pieces that were big enough, I used 3M 77 spray to glue pieces together. I started with the front of the helmet and used my scroll saw to cut the bevel on the outside and my electric carving knife to cut out the zig zags in the middle of the mask. Don’t worry if your cuts are not exactly perfect…. you can smooth everything out later with your electric knife and sandpaper. After I had all my pieces cut, I used the 3M 77 to glue all the pieces together for the main part of the helmet.
The red paint did not cover the dark foam very well at all, so I had to improvise. I had some extra white paintable caulk laying around and decided to cover the entire helmet with caulk using a putty knife. Just squirt on some caulk and spread it, working it into the little holes in the foam. Below is a picture of the helmet that has been partially painted, but shows the caulk covering parts of the helmet. After applying the caulk, the red paint definitely covered much better, but it did add a little more weight to the helmet.
One little problem…
The helmet is MUCH bigger than my son’s head. In order to make this helmet actually wearable, I created a little foam ring that goes inside the helmet. I also added some extra foam blocks for the foam ring to sit on. After that, I just added some other foam pieces here and there to make the fit a little more snug.
I made the “wings” as a separate piece to be glued on later (after painting). I glued together several pieces of foam to make them into thicker “blocks”, and used my scroll saw again to cut the bevel on the edges.
After making a few minor adjustments, I painted the wings with black FlexiDip. This took several coats, but I didn’t have to worry about covering the foam with caulk because the paint covered pretty well.
To make the little pendant that goes in the middle of the wings, I just cut out several pieces of volera foam, hot glued them together and spray painted them yellow. Then I hot glued the pendant onto the wings.
I made the little coffee cups (as my son calls them) that sit on top of the wings by cutting up some different sized round foam insulation that is used to insulate pipes. Then I glued all the little pieces together and spray painted them before hot gluing them onto the wings.
I used hot glue to put all the helmet pieces together. Here is how the helmet came out!
Finally…. it was time to put it all together! The only thing left to add was some grey clothes to wear under the costume. What a fun project! My son and I definitely had way too much fun with this. He even told me that the whole family should make costumes for next year.
December 8, 2013Posted by on
We have a small area near the bottom of our stairs that is PERFECT for a little wine cellar. This project is about the princess/dress-up area that is there instead 😦 To be fair, building a wine cellar or wine storage area (I even thought of temperature and humidity control) would be pretty time-consuming to build and probably expensive to boot. Maybe one day…
Despite my pouting, we did have an actual problem to solve with this project. My girls love to dress up and pretend. All their princess dresses and dress-up stuff was thrown into a bin that usually ends up strewn across our entire basement. My wife had an idea to build some sort of “coat tree” that could be put into the corner for hanging the dresses. After taking a look and going over some options, I came up with the idea of building corner shelves that could also be used for hanging dresses. My wife thought it would be a good idea to add a second shelf as well. This is a pretty simple project, but seems to do the trick for wrangling dress-up stuff (it is TERRIBLE for wine storage though).
- 1×4 pine board
- laminated pine panel
- wood glue
- brad nails
- 14 rubber coated mug hooks
- string (for making the 1/4 circle shape)
- Circular saw (optional)
- Mitre Saw
- Brad nailer
- Scroll saw or Jig saw
- Router + 1/4″ round over bit (optional)
- Sander + sandpaper (150 & 220)
- Drill & Drill Bits
I used a string that I pinned down in the corner of the laminated panel with my finger to draw 2 1/4 circle shapes. The trick to drawing the 1/4 circle shapes is to use string that doesn’t stretch easily and just keep a steady hand while holding your pencil to make the arc. I free-handed the shape on the end of the 1×4 pine, cut it out on my scroll saw and used the first piece as a template for the other 3 pieces (to make sure they were all the same). I used my circular saw to make a bunch of rough cuts around the arc… essentially to remove material. This makes it easier to use my scroll saw, but if you are going to use a jig saw you shouldn’t need to do this. After some sanding, I used my router with a 1/4″ round over bit to round off the top outer edge of the shelf. This step isn’t required either, but I would at least sand the edges. Add some glue and nail all the pieces together.
I decided to paint these shelves to match our baseboards. All that was left to do was hang these up in the corner using some screws and install the mug hooks. I pre-drilled all my screw holes to prevent any splitting of the wood. It was definitely helpful to draw out my hook pattern on paper before installing the hooks. This was the most time-consuming part of the whole project because I am anal about things being evenly spaced. Here are some final pictures of the corner shelf/dress hangers.
While this is definitely not as fun as a wine cellar, this little project definitely made my girls and wife happy. The girls have easy access to their dress up stuff and my wife doesn’t have to come get a bin down every time they want to do it.
June 22, 2013Posted by on
We have kids, and those kids have hands.
On mother’s day this year, the kids and I bought mom a keepsake storage chest that she has been wanting for years. She mainly wanted to store kids’ items like blankets, special stuffed animals and things we always associated with each kid. Because this would store kid stuff, I decided to personalize it a bit by adding a plaque with the kids handprints mounted to the inside of the lid. That way, every time she opens it she will get a little reminder that she has kids, and those kids have hands.
For this little project, I wanted to make the wood plaque look like weathered wood instead of trying to match the stain of the storage chest. I first tried the baking soda/water/sun trick that is all over the internet but only succeeded in turning my pine board yellow. What I ended up doing was a sort of a hodge podge of stains. I first used Minwax Classic Gray with a very light application. It was too gray, so I added two coats of Minwax Cherry (which is very very light brown on pine). This added just a tinge of brown to get the look I wanted.
Before doing the handprints, I had the kids each write their name on the bottom of the board (in pencil) so I could trace it later. For the handprints, I just mixed up some black and white tempera paint to make a nice charcoal gray color that blended well with the “weathered” wood. The kids really enjoyed me smearing paint all over their hands and they each got to do it twice… one for a practice, one on the plaque. I was worried that the tempera paint would not react well with the oil based stain I had used, but it turned out fine with no bubbling or pooling. I didn’t have a paint brush thin enough to trace their names, so I used a toothpick dipped in paint to methodically trace their signatures, and add “mother’s day 2013” to the top. After all the handprints had dried, I sprayed on 2 coats of Minwax Polyurethane to preserve the handprints.
I mounted the plaque with 4 oil rubbed bronze screws I found at Home Depot, being very very careful not to drill through the lid of the storage chest. Just to make sure, I used some painters tape to mark the depth on my drill bit. I also pre-drilled the plaque before drilling into the storage chest lid.
All that was left was to tighten up a couple of screws and now mom will always have a reminder that she has kids, and those kids have hands!