Monthly Archives: February 2014

How to build a Clacker – sort of

This is the Clacker that I first made about 30 years ago. Hundreds have followed at a rate of about 25 per year.

This is a difficult toy to make. The bent wood, hand laminated uprights are made of 4 layers of Cherry and White Ash. Ash is for strength, cherry for beauty. Their compound curves make for some tricky joinery.

clacker detail

I cut cherry and ash boards into very thin slats and glue them together in my homemade press which consists of two plywood cauls. I then place the slats between the cauls with a section of firehose, clamp it securely and then inflate the hose with air at about 100 pounds per square inch. Three hours later the new laminated uprights take on the bend permanently.

clacker photos 1

The uprights are then band sawn to a pleasing tapered shape and sanded to a silky smooth finish. Next I glue them together at the handle end and a nicely shaped cross piece is glued between and secured with 10 angled dowel pins.

clacker photos 3

clacker photos 5

I then insert the handle on one end and the clacker cage on the other. Now I again sand it all over for the silky feel I like, add a bit of oil and its done.

clacker detail

The design is one of my favorites and while its difficult to make I really enjoy the process. Today I made two. One for Salvatore and one for Helen, or more likely for their small relatives.

“In an agricultural society, or during a time of exploration and settlement, or hunting and gathering–which is to say, most of mankind’s history–energetic boys were particularly prized for their strength, speed, and agility. […] As recently as the 1950s, most families still had some kind of agricultural connection. Many of these children, girls as well as boys, would have been directing their energy and physicality in constructive ways: doing farm chores, baling hay, splashing in the swimming hole, climbing trees, racing to the sandlot for a game of baseball. Their unregimented play would have been steeped in nature.”
― Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder


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