So, like I mentioned in the project overview, while making this, I wanted to utilize the materials that I already had available. You’ll see in the project materials I’ve selected some cherry and walnut project pieces, but you can do this with pretty much any wood and the thicknesses are totally up to you.
For mine I plied a piece of cherry and a piece of walnut for the tractor body, walnut for the wheels and 1/4" red oak dowels for the axles and mounting the exhaust to the body.
In the Easel link there are two workpieces, the tractor body, and another containing the wheels and exhaust pieces. (If you’re a tractor nerd, you could run off two more rear wheels and make this a six wheeler)
For all of the axle holes, I have about a 1/8" hole. You can change this to whatever size you want, based on whatever kind of dowels you want to use. What I did was just left the holes at this size and use them as pilot holes for a drill press or cordless drill with a bit that better matches whatever size dowels you use.
I used one tab on each piece in conjunction with double-sided tape. It’s a little overkill, but I didn’t have time or materials to waste. I’d recommend just tabbing everything. The bigger stuff you can get away with the small sided tape, but the tabs aren’t too unbearable since you’re going to need to sand everything after carving anyway.
For the bit, I went with a straight cut bit. It might not technically be the best choice considering the materials I used and everything, but I like to use straight cut bits for this kind of project to avoid the tapering that fishtail bits leave behind.
After all of your pieces are cut out, you’ll need to sand everything down. If you’re giving to a small kid, I’d recommend hitting the edges a bit so there aren’t any “sharp” edges or corners.
If you just stuck with the 1/8" holes in the easel link, here’s where you’ll need to fit them to match whatever size dowels you use. I used 1/4" oak dowels. Hindsight, I think I should have used something a little bigger like 1/2" or larger. Anyway, I used a 1/4" bit to expand all of the holes so that the dowels could fit all of the pieces, but tightly. Afterward, I used a 7mm metric bit to enlarge the holes on the tractor body. If you don’t have another bit that is just slightly bigger than the diameter of your dowel, you can get away with a rounding out the holes on the body using whatever bit you drilled for the dowels. The important thing here is that the dowels fit tightly into the wheels but have a bit of freedom passing through the tractor body to allow them to rotate. Don’t go too tight here though, because as you’re gluing or finishing you might end up with a little less space than you intended.
After all that I just picked a good spot close to the cab for my exhaust pipe. You’ll see that I technically put my pipe on backwards. Shit happens… If you wanted, you can drill this all the way through, but I just went in deep enough that the overall dowel length was over double the thickness of the exhaust piece. That’s why you can only see the dowel when looking at the side with the pipe.
With a drop of wood glue, mount one wheel to each axle, pass the axle through the body, glue the other wheel to the axle and use a small hammer or block of wood to finish the dowel joinery. Cut off or sand the excess dowels.
For mine I used one coat of satin polyurethane. For something like this I think I’d typically recommend using a natural finish though. You never know what little kids are going to taste test, and it’s always best to play it safe. Use something you like. Hindsight, I think I would have used a butcher block finish like the ones that contain beeswax and mineral oil.
In the picture above you’ll see I just ran off a blank tag with 1/8" Baltic birch (courtesy of Mo’s gift tag project), laser engraved the name tag, and tied up with some jute twine.
This project is pretty simple, but open-ended since I didn’t really use standard-size materials. If you decide you want to make one of these, I’d be curious to see what kind of materials and thicknesses you went with. This body is half cherry, half walnut with oak dowels. You can run off a number of body pieces and ply them together to create a wider tractor, same for the wheels. You could also go with beefier dowels to make the axles more sturdy or add two extra rear wheels like the real tractor.
I’ll upload an .svg file for the design. There’s no reason you couldn’t use a laser to run off the parts for this project.