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Woodworking Projects I Made After Retirement
Farm Animal Croquet Wickets
One Christmas my daughter and son-in-law gave me a scroll saw for a present. Since I loved working with wood, this was a great gift. The saw was a little overwhelming and I was sure I would saw my finger off, but that never happened. After using the saw for some time, I realized it was not as "scary" as I first thought. I just had to be sensible and careful.
One of my more detailed wood projects was a set of wickets for a croquet set. This idea came from my daughter, who had made me a set one year. This was a really fun project to work on as you can probably tell from the picture. And also a fun project to use to play croquet. My picture shows eight of the animals very well, and then on the bottom right of the picture, there is a duck just "peeking" in. It has been years since I made these, and I don't have too many good pictures around anymore. But I think you get the idea.
For my set, I made a farmhouse, a red barn, a rooster, a turkey, a rabbit, a sheep, a cow, a pig, and a duck. Any animals can be used. (Another idea would be zoo animals.) They are all made from 1" wood. There are holes drilled in the bottom of the objects so dowels can be put in for the stakes to hold the wickets up. The ends of the dowels need to be pointed so they can go into the ground easily. These are bright, colorful wickets that can easily be seen in the grass when playing croquet. We used the house and barn for the end wickets. Young children love playing croquet using these wickets. You can really have fun painting the wickets, using your imagination, either wild and wacky or typical animal colors. As you can see, my wickets are typical farm animals. My abilities do not lend to being very creative.
Wooden Animal Puzzles
Wooden Fish Puzzle
My projects included different items for my children and grandchildren. First I just made items that used straight lines and corners. As I became more proficient with the saw, I began to make more intricate items. These included wood animal puzzles that I made for my young grandchildren. Of course, I had to be sure they were smooth and that I used lead-free paint. They turned out quite well. My pictures are not the best but you get the idea. I have a son who is a high school teacher and coach. One year he asked me to make puzzles from pictures of some of his athletes. First I traced the design of the puzzle on the wood and the picture, cut the pieces out, sanded the wood, glued the picture pieces to the wood pieces and shellacked the complete project. Then put the entire unit into a frame. It would not have to be framed, but that made it more useful and durable.
Thanksgiving Turkey Decoration
Another fun project was a wooden turkey for a table decoration for Thanksgiving. This was very simple and lots of fun. All you need is an 8½" half circle of wood, a 5½" half circle of wood, and a small piece of wood to cut out a turkey's head. On the curved edge of the two half circles of wood, you drill small holes every inch all the way around. These are used to stick cellophane wrapped colored suckers in for the tail of the turkey. The head of the turkey is cut from a 2½" x 1½" piece of wood, and shaped like a head. Sand all of the wood until smooth. Then paint the head any way you want to and paint the half circles of wood in a brown tone. Glue these pieces together and finish with a shellac to make it smooth. This is a fun decoration for the children's table and also edible. Mine still looks like new and I have had it for almost 20 years.
Now comes my favorite wood project, Noah's Ark, Noah and animals. This took much time and patience as there were so many pieces and details for the animals. The pattern for the Ark itself was quite simple and went together quickly. But, with some fifteen different animals, two of each, and Noah and dove, the work went slowly. My scroll saw got quite a workout, as did my sander and my hands. Creative skills are not one of my better abilities so I usually need patterns. I would love to be able to see something in my mind and produce it, but for me that is impossible. Painting is another skill that takes me a long time to complete. All of the pieces had to be sanded, painted and finished. Needless to say, when I was finished I felt a great sense of accomplishment.
Altogether I made three sets of the ark and animals. One set I sold to a lady who had a Sunday School class and she thought it would be a good teaching, hands-on tool for their group.