Yellow Digger Bookends


Give a child of any age a Yellow Digger and it won’t be long before their imagination goes into overdrive thinking up all sorts’ activities they can do, I guess we can all reminisce having one as a toy however many years ago, that said these ones are definitely not toys!


01.   Getting started

Make 3 copies of the pattern for each Digger (plus 3 reversed) cut them into the 4 main sections, lay out the sections onto your wood selection lining up the directional arrows with the wood grain


02.  Drill the blade entry holes using the 0.5 bit, drill into the line of each wheel hub and another 2 to gain access to the cab windows. Change to the 5mm and then 6mm bit to drill out each of the inner wheel hubs.



03.  Cutting out

Set the scrollsaw with a No.5 blade; check that the table is square to the blade with a small set square and then cut around each section


04.  Sand away any bur from the underside so the pieces lay nice and flat, then check the fit


05.  Where one or two pieces within the sections go in the opposite direction, sometimes it's easier to cut the piece out even though it is against the grain and then use it as a template for cutting out a new piece going with the grain, as in this case the roof of the cab


06.  Before cutting out any of the inner pieces, change to a No.2 blade this will keep the gap between the pieces to a minimum, start by threading the blade up through the pre-drilled hole in one of the wheel hubs


07.  Continue to cut out all the remaining pieces


08.  Once all the pieces are cut out, remove the pattern


09.  Mark the underside of each piece for easy reference, you wouldn't believe how many times we've sanded the wrong side!



Sanding and Shaping

Couldn’t be easier, giving the individual pieces even a slight 3D form really does bring the whole piece to life.

Always start with the lowest piece and rise up with varying heights from that starting point, trying to visualise how it would look as you go.

If you haven’t a Disc Sander the pieces of the digger are fairly small so they could carefully be sliced through with the scrollsaw.


10.  Begin by lower the height of the 3 pieces that make up the body, be 5mm to a height of 14mm


11.  Mark the position of the body onto the cab and then sand the cab down to approx 1mm above your pencil line making the cab sit just proud of the body, then lower the windows down 0.5mm below the cab.


12.  Continue in this way marking the heights on all the adjacent pieces i.e. mud guards, foot stabiliser, roof piece and the front and rear digger sections, sanding down little by little until you are happy with the way the digger is looking.


13.  Place the 5mm dowel into the small wheel hub and the 6mm dowel into the large, mark the height and cut to 2mm above


14. Sand all the pieces smooth going with the grain to remove any scratch marks, rounding over any outer edges, a small diameter drum sander comes in very handy for the smaller pieces



15.  Note that the outer section of the wheel has been rotated 90 degrees, leaving the inner hub horizontal


16.  Assemble all the pieces onto the 6mm plywood and trace around the outer edge, then remove one piece at a time to trace around the inner pieces (making a sort of map of all the pieces)


17.  Make this simple jig to hold the wheels steady whilst drilling the holes to take the 5mm support dowels, use a 5mm drill bit and drill down to a depth of 6mm in each wheel.


18.  Colouring

Place the pieces into groups of colour.  We like to mix a 50/50 ratio of acrylic paint with a medium that thins the paint without lessening the colour, the excess can then be easily wiped off, allowing the grain of the wood to show through.

When dry, lightly nib down with a fine grade sandpaper, apply a coat of varnish to all the pieces and again allow to dry, nib down once more. Apply a wax polish


Making the Backing

19.  Returning to your pre-traced piece of 6mm plywood, first drill the blade entry holes and set the scrollsaw with a No.2 blade. 

Remove the inner pieces first and then continue to cut around the outer edge, then lightly nib any bur from the cut lines.


20.  Apply a varnish/wood sealer to the reverse side of the backing and allow to dry, paint all around the edges with the black paint and then use a black marker pen to trace over your pencil lines. Doing this will make any gaps between the pieces less noticeable and will enhance the finished piece.


Gluing up

21.  Working on a flat surface lay all the pieces out in order, temporarily placing short lengths of dowel into the support holes within the wheels, lets you see at a glance that they are in the correct downward position.

Start by applying glue to the body and aligning it in the correct position on the backing, and then glue on each adjoining piece in turn, allow to dry.


Bookend framework

22.  A length of 860mm x 100mm x 19mm Pine is used for the main upright and base pieces, which are held together with simple finger joints.

Referring to the pattern measure out the finger joints at the correct intervals along the length of pine


23.  With the scrollsaw fitted with a No.5 blade cut the pieces through to the correct length and then secure the 2 pieces together with masking tape, cut into each line then back the blade out and move onto the next


24.  Separate the pieces and mark the finger joints that are to be removed.



25.  Cut three from the base and two from the upright


26.  Check the fit



27.  Check the squareness



28.  Next lay the pattern onto the base section and secure with masking tape, fit the pillar drill with a 5mm drill bit and drill the 2 support holes to a depth of 10mm, a piece of tape wrapped around the drill bit helps to take out the guess work.


29.  To make the bookends really functional add weights to the underside of the base, by drilling two 22mm holes to the depth of 10mm, or to a depth to suit the washes you have plus a 3mm wood plug

Next apply glue to the finger joints secure with masking tape and allow to dry.


30.  Using a circle template to mark out the 22mm holes in a small piece of 3mm Obeche or Plywood


31.  Carefully cut out the circles and check the fit


32.  Using plenty of glue place washers into each hole and then the 3mm wooden plug.


33.  Clamp to secure and allow to dry.

Apply a coat of varnish, when dry lightly nib down with a fine 220 grade of sandpaper.


Lastly cut 4, 15mm lengths from a 5mm dowel rod and then apply glue to the holes at the bottom of the wheels of the Digger and into the base section, push the diggers firmly into position and allow to dry.


Yellow Digger - pattern

Bookend Frame - template

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