Finishing the toy: At this stage, and before I do anything else, I am going to give the toy several coats of varnish. You can use anything you like. Personally, I am more in favor of old-fashioned oil base varnish. My reasons have to do with longevity and wear. Simply put I have never had any other product hold up as well. An alternative is Tung oil, which works well too, but has a lasting odor that some children will not like.
Again, I will repeat that this is just my experience, but I have had very poor results with poly-products. I have used both water-based, and oil based poly and what I have found is that they do not bond well enough to the wood to hold up to constant play. The result is that they chip, crack and peel, and that makes me nervous because I don’t want the little ones eating chips of anything that comes off a toy.
Once the varnishing is complete, painted details can be added. I paint on insignia, nose art, and any other decorations. In this case, my nephew is only two, so I am keeping it simple. However, if the child is a little older, the decoration is an area where you can personalize a toy, giving it a name, or insignia that have a special meaning to the child in question.
The last two pieces of the project are the propeller disk and the canopy, both of which will be molded from acrylic that is one-eighth of an inch thick.
The acrylic pieces can be a challenge. The propeller is just a disk of clear acrylic, drilled on the drill press and cut out on the band-saw. However, even such a simple piece must be carefully drilled and cut to avoid blistering and cracks. The cockpit canopy is made by carefully and slowly heating a piece of acrylic and shaping it over a poplar form. In some cases I will use a vacuum jig to help form the canopy, but I have to point out here that complex shapes are hard to achieve and it takes practice to get good results, so the simpler the design and the easier it is to execute, the better your chances of success. If you want to know more about shaping acrylic, or plastics, go to “you tube” and type in vacuum molding.
I glue on acrylic parts using two part marine epoxy that has been slightly thickened. The resulting paste will be stronger than either the acrylic or the wood, and it will not be as prone to run or drip.
The finished toy: