It was the middle of the 1980s, I was self-employed, times were lean, and the holidays were fast approaching. Although my children were small, I still wanted to give them something special — and, as I had more time and wood than I did money, I decided to build each of them a wooden toy. This airplane is based on the one that I gave my son that year. This version has a couple of improvements … it has a pilot that is secured by a magnet, and it has wooden axles and pegs where the original had screws, but all in all, it is the same airplane that was played with for many years after that Christmas.
Before You Get Started
Before you get started on putting the piece together, you’ll need these sometimes difficult to find parts for the finished product.
First Things First
I fabricated templates for the wings, propeller and fuselage from 1/4″ hardboard. Even if you are making only one of these, I would take the time to make templates. If you decide to make a few, they’re a must-do task.
The fuselage (piece 1) is made from 1-3⁄4″ stock. You can glue up stock to get to that thickness if you need to. Mill the fuselage blank to size and then trace out the shape using your template. Mark the fuselage with the locations of the axle holes and the pilot’s seat. Although it may seem odd, the next thing to do is to chuck a 7/8″ Forstner bit into your drill press and bore the hole for the little pilot (piece 2).
With that done, move to the band saw and saw out the tail section of the plane, leaving the rest of the blank squared up. The reason for this is that you will now narrow the tail section on your jointer. (If you don’t have a jointer, you can do this on the band saw.)
The way I skinnied-up the tail section of the plane was by setting my jointer to its deepest cut, clamping a stop block onto the outfeed table and carefully advancing the blank over the cutterhead. Note that I used a shop-made push block that is almost as long as the fuselage blank. The part of the blank that remains squared up is held securely against the fence. Do this to both sides.
Now you can take the fuselage blank back to the band saw and cut out the front section of the fuselage. Go ahead and drill the axle holes and peg hole for the propeller, then set it aside for now.
Make the wing (piece 3) out of 1/2″-thick stock. Before you cut the wing down to length, it is a good idea to cut an over-long piece to width so that it will be easier and safer to cut the 7° angle onto the top face of the wing. Note that I used a featherboard and push stick for this procedure.
At this point, you can go ahead and trace the wing’s end shapes onto the blank and saw it out using a band saw or scroll saw. Bore the mounting peg holes and set the wing aside.