Home Eng Project #5 – Trick

My thirteen-year-old and I have continued to go into the shop for “Home Eng” (read more here) even after school has ended for her and we’ve shifted into summer mode. I have been trying to focus on shorter projects, since those seem to hold her attention a bit better. I do want to take on something bigger at some point, although I’m not quite sure what that will be.

For project #5, I reached WAY back into the early 80s, when I was in what we called Junior High. Most places here in the US call that Middle School now, but either way it means I was just about the same age then that my daughter is now. Shop was a required class, and I guess my teacher must have liked a few of us okay, because he showed us how to build the simple object shown above. It’s just a tapered head attached to a notched shaft, which fits snugly into a hole in the other piece, itself with a rubber band held in the bottom by a bit of the same dowel.

These are very simple to make. Daughter #2 and I were able to fabricate one in a matter of minutes from some scrap mahogany with a belt sander and a drill press, but there are a million ways to do these. All that matters is the basic form, but we took the time to sand it smooth and apply an oil/wax finish, which helps a little bit for reasons that will become clear in a moment.

The trick starts with a demonstration. Something a little bit like this:

Looks easy, right? Well, go make one and give it a try. I’ll wait.

Difficult, right? How the heck DO you get the notch to hook onto the rubber band? Well, I told you it’s a trick, so it is, of course, impossible. The dowel leaves no room for the rubber band to somehow make its way onto the notch. Instead, what I’m doing is squeezing the tapered head of the trick so that the top sort of squirts out of my fingers, making it look like it has been pulled by the elastic. Watch the video again – I’m sure you’ll spot it now that it has been explained.

This was a great little project for a day where we didn’t have much time. I’m not sure she’ll ever get around to messing with her friend with it, but she enjoyed it nonetheless, and I think other kids would definitely enjoy pranking their friends. I sure did when we made them back in the dark ages.

I think this project would be a good one for younger kids, too, since you could make the parts ahead of time and reduce it to gluing them together, or have them do everything except the sawing, or everything except the drill press, or whatever combination you were most comfortable with given the tools at your disposal.

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