Smoothing It Out
While sanding is necessary, it is not the most fun you will have in the shop. Sanding the wing and fuselage is best done on a spindle sander, or in my case, an oscillating belt sander. I was actually able to completely shape the propeller of the plane (piece 4) by using just the sander.
Where possible, I rounded over the edges of the wing and fuselage with an 1/8″ roundover bit in my router table, but not every part of the plane can easily be reached by the bit. The remaining edges of the plane must be broken by hand using sandpaper. I also finish-sanded the pieces by hand up to 150-grit paper.
A toy like this would be pretty lame without operational wheels (pieces 5). The wheels in this case are made in a sequence of drilling operations on the drill press, as shown at left. First, using 1/2″ stock, rip a strip to 3-1⁄2″ wide. Next, mark lines every 4″ and strike a center line. Chuck a 1-3⁄8″ Forstner bit in the drill press and bore the hubcap holes 1/8″ deep.
Switch to a wing cutter bit set to form a 3″ circle and bore right in the center of the hubcap holes. Only cut halfway through the stock.
Flip the stock over and complete the cut from the other side, aligning on the holes bored through the stock.
I sanded the edges of the wheels smooth by mounting a pair on a carriage bolt with a wing nut, chucking it into the drill press and sanding. You will need to expand the axle hole to a full 3/8″ to mount the wheels.
To attach the wing to the body, drill only one of the peg holes in the top of the fuselage. Apply glue to both pieces and use the peg to help locate the wing. Clamp the wing to the fuselage, checking to be sure it’s square to the body. After the glue cures, drill for the second pin and glue it in place.
I found a can of spray shellac to be an effective way to apply a good clear finish to the toy: I used three coats with a rubdown of 0000 steel wool between them. Finish the wheels and propeller separately before you glue them in place.
You will need to cut the pegs for the propeller and the axles (pieces 6 and 7) shorter using a hand saw as they are too long out of the package. Before you attach the wheels, put a light coat of beeswax on their inside face. Attach the wheels with the axles, allowing the wheels to spin freely. Mount the propeller in the same way and allow the glue to cure.
The last task is to drill a small countersunk hole for a screw in the bottom of the pilot and then epoxy a rare earth magnet (piece 8) into the hole you drilled for the pilot. Now he won’t fall out during acrobatic maneuvers. Now all that’s left is to find a deserving 4-year old!