An ever popular toy with all ages, children just love being rocketed up into the air on a see-saw and equally relish the thump as they come back to earth. This design allows for rapid assembly and dismantling- the board can stand upright in your shed or garage and the stand can hang on the wall. Children of different weights can easily find the correct balance position as I have allowed a long seating area and good handles.
I used Nordic redwood timber and ramin dowel rods. It is probably best to buy the dowel rod necessary before getting to work in case you can’t get the exact diameter specified, in which case you will need to alter the size of the holes you drill accordingly. If you can’t find thick enough dowelling, then two strong broom handles will do.
1. Start by making the stand, which consists of two identical side frames held together with dowel rods. It’s a good idea to mark both frames out at the same time. The joints used are halving joints which are a little more tricky to cut than usual as they are at an angle. I have always found that the success of any woodworking project is the marking out and for this job of marking out the angled halving joints you really do need a marking gauge and a sliding bevel gauge. Following the plans, mark out everything in pencil and once the bevel gauge is set, mark all the angles with it. On no account after the bevel gauge!
Now the old adage of measuring twice and cutting once is particularly applicable here. Once marked out in pencil, go over the whole job again to make sure that you are going to cut off the right pieces. Using a pencil, ‘scribble out’ the areas you will cut off to be doubly sure you have got it right. ‘Assemble’ the frame dry and think it through – will it work? Once you are sure, go over all the pencil lines with a marking knife, again using your sliding bevel gauge to help you.
2. Cut out all the joints with a tenon saw and assemble them dry again to check that all fits well. It’s at this stage you will be glad you marked out accurately! Now glue each frame together and, once the glue is dry, add a couple of screws to each joint – see-saws get worked terribly hard so it’s worth the ‘belt and braces’ approach here.
3. Now for the dowel rods that hold the frames together. Mark the position of the dowel rods carefully and drill the holes using a large flat bit. If you have a drill stand the job is simple, but if not, then get an assistant to help you line up the electric drill at 90° in both planes. This drilling process is a vital one and if the holes are not bored accurately then the two frames will not line up and the work will be spoilt.
Once the holes have been bored, glue all the dowel rods into one framework first. The protruding ends will then need to be chamfered off to make it easier to fit them into the second frame. Apply glue to the ends and then, using a large hammer and a block of waste wood (to prevent damage to the frame), tap the second frame onto the protruding dowel rods. The most difficult bit is getting started. Once all the dowel rods are into the holes you have to work quickly using the hammer and block of wood to drive the framework onto the rods. When the dowel rods are flush with the outside face of the frame the job is done. After the glue has dried, plane off any glue residue or rough wood.
4. Once the stand is completed you can start work on the seat. It’s important to try to find a piece of wood that is fairly knot-free for the main plank otherwise it won’t be strong enough.
The plank gets its strength from the two pieces of wood or ‘stiffeners’ that you must fit on the top. Use a coping saw or jigsaw to cut the shaping out and then drill the holes to take the dowel rod handles. You will find a spokeshave invaluable to finish off the middle section once all the ‘roughing out’ has been done. Now glue and screw these two stiffeners on to the main plank from underneath. You will find it helpful to fit the dowel rod handles in position before fixing the stiffeners on to the plank.
5. Using a spokeshave, remove all the sharp edges from the seat areas. Make sure they are really smooth and round off the corners.
6. All see-saws need ‘bump blocks’ fitted beneath the seats. These blocks prevent children’s feet getting trapped under the plank so they are essential. Fix them with at least three 65-75mm (2 ½ -3in) No. 8 gauge screws each.
7. The plank is fixed to the stand by two sections of timber (pivot blocks) that you must screw onto the underside of the main plank. Initially these should be positioned fairly tight up against the ‘pivot’ dowel rod at the top of the stand as they will obviously loosen up with use. By making the blocks fairly deep you will avoid any possibility of the main plank slipping off the stand.
8. Finish off the see-saw with a good sandpapering.
Main plank 1 off 2440 x 197 x 22mm (96 x 7 3/4 x 7/8 in) Timber
Stiffeners 2 off 1510 x 95 x 22mm (59 1/2 x 3 3/4 X 7/8 in) Timber
Bump blocks 2 off 178 x 95 x 44mm (7 X 33/4 x 13/4in) Timber
Pivot blocks 2 off 191 x 70 x 44mm (71/2 x 23/4 x 13/4in) Timber
Handles 2 off 394mm (15 1/2in) X 22mm (7/8n) diam dowelling
Stand frames 2 off 915 x 70 x 44mm (36 x 2 3/4 x 1 3/4in) Timber
4 off 690 x 70 x 44mm (27 1/8 x 2 3/4 x 1 3/4 in) Timber
7 off 305mm (12in) X 22mm (7/8 in) diam dowelling