One of the most common questions I get from people is “What are you working on now?” From books, to paintings, to projects, this is where I share the most recent workings from THE SWEATSHOP.
“Professionals built the Titanic. Amateurs the Ark.”
Each year for Christmas my wife and I try to build something for our kids. One year it was a toy store (moving conveyer belt and all!). One year it was a craft desk. One year it was a PhD (the kids didn’t think that was too cool). This year, we built a Noah’s Ark for our little two-year old man Calvin. We came up with the idea about a year ago and thought it would be sweet to build an ark that opened up on the sides and had little cubbies to hold all his toy animals. We searched online for various ideas and saw some cool arks, but nothing like what we were thinking, so we designed it ourselves. Here was our cardboard box prototype to get a feel for size and how much wood we would need (glad I could put that extra MORMONS: An Open Book box to use, and the green premium diapers box from Sam’s Club “leak prevention you can trust!”).
We built the thing out of poplar wood because, well, it’s not too expensive, is fairly workable for non-experts like us, and, lets be frank, because it is one of three options at Home Depot (pine–too soft; redwood–am I Daddy Warbucks?).
Then the handles on the side that add some decorative ark flair (and ergonomic use to carry the bad boy). I originally was going to hand carve a male and female lion head on the end of each handle as you can see in the cardboard cut out, but, alas, I was pushing time as it was (this photo was taken on December 20th) and the poplar was terrible wood to try to hand carve. Bag that idea (it actually turned out for the better. Kept the finished ark with a simpler, child-like look rather than giant lion heads like at the door-knocks of some mansion).
I then built the house for the top, cut the top lido deck piece (I hopeNoah called it the “lido deck.” Feels so cruise ship like) and attached the house and deck together. The deck fit down into its place snug as a bug. I glued it and attached it with some screws from the bottom.
Last of all, I cut the side panel doors and top lid doors (for the house), all of which hinge open and close (the side panel doors lock with some bolt levers). Aside from putting his animals in their little cubbies, opening and closing the doors has gotta be the most fun for a little munchkin. I also cut and built a ladder with steps that attaches to the side so he can march his animals up to the top deck. Here is the final product, being glazed with a wipe on polyurethane and then all set up, ready to go on Christmas eve.
Don’t you love the mass of animals piled up on the one side? So much for order on the ark.
This was a great project to do and we’re happy with how it turned out. Most important, our little man (and other kids…including me) have loved it–putting the animals two-by-two into their compartments, mixing pandas and polar bears (oh my!), closing up the lid and locking them away to get ready to disembark, marching them up the ladder, stuffing them all into a heap in the house on the top. It’s been cool. So cool that we think we’ll keep it when he’s older (it’s a “family” gift, back off!):-).