Sunday, 22 July 2012


There’s no gift better than risking life, limb and your favourite pair of overalls to make somebody something, right? My nephew was turning four and I wanted to make him a toy, so when I found this it looked good: small, easy and fun.

 Somehow, it took steroids, or got bitten by a radioactive spider, because it turned into this.

  1. Cut top off two tyres. We didn’t want it too high, since he still only comes up to my hip, so we cut thirty centimetres off the ground. We started with the hand saw – nope – then the circular saw – nope – then the hand saw – yes, but be prepared to sweat – and eventually settled on the angle grinder.

2. Measure, saw and screw wood to each side of the tyre, with four screws on each side. (The two pieces will bend towards each other like Shakespearean lovers, so you may want to screw a block between them just to make the next assembly step a little easier.)

3. Cut a piece of board to the approximate length and width of the top of the tyre. Saw the corners off, because the kids are guaranteed to run into it at some point and the less sharp edges the better. Attach the board with screws, making sure you’re screwing into the wood bracing and not empty air. 

  1. We used gum, which was strong enough to hold Lawrence and I without even a creak of protest, but just to be sure, we screwed a second reinforcing piece underneath the plank along the middle. Please note that the plank is upside down in this photo, and if you put the reinforcing piece on the top you will give your children enormous wedgies.

  1. The last piece of wood is the one that will attach everything together. Measure the width of the plank and the two top boards: the three combined is how long it needs to be. Once you’ve cut it to size, find the middle: line up the edge with one tyre board and draw a pencil line that marks off the width of the board, then repeat for the other end of the piece of wood, leaving you with three sections marked. The middle section should be the width of the plank. Lay the piece of wood on top of the plank, lined up with the middle section, and drill two holes, one each side of the reinforcing piece underneath. These are for the bolts: it’s a good idea to actually put the first bolt in before you drill the second hole, to make sure it doesn’t move. Use a washer on both the underside and the top of the bolt to ensure it won’t pull through the wood and scatter flailing children to the wind.
  1. The last step is, obviously, to attach the plank to the tyres. Rest the piece of wood roughly in the centre of the two boards, and put a couple of screws in to hold it in place. It isn’t bearing any weight, so two on each board should be ample. 
  2. Sand, then sand the sides again, because little fingers are going to be gripping it (hopefully in delight and not in terror).

  1. Paint. Outside, in winter, with rain forecast. Hope the weatherman’s prediction was out by at least a couple of hours.  
  2. Clean melted tyre goo off face. Clean melted tyre goo off glasses. Clean melted tyre goo from hair. Clean melted tyre goo off entire first floor of house. Throw out socks. They’re a lost cause.

  1. Realise that you still have to move the stupid thing over two hundred kilometres to give it to its recipient, and you don’t own a helicopter. Disassemble, wrap in bubble tape, tie to car and pray the cops are busy that night.

I did consider adding handles, which would have been easy: just a couple of large furniture handles screwed in would have been fine. However, I had nightmarish visions of one of the kids falling off with their fingers still holding on and breaking bones. I’ve already dropped my nephew on his head, I don’t need that on my record as well.

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