As the propeller turns, imagination sparks, and in a child’s mind, they are soaring amongst the clouds. It is especially exciting if they are behind the wheel, or hanging off the wing! This project comes with complete plans (sky and clouds not included). The motor on this wonderful project is your child’s imagination.
I designed this airplane to withstand all kinds of inclement weather so that my grandson could have fun playing with it outside. I used 2″ (1½” nominal size) spruce from my local lumber outlet. Weatherproof glue (such as Titebond III), or a polyurethane glue, is a must for this project.
Base and Wing
• Glue together three pieces of 2×6 for the base (A), and two pieces of 2×8 for the wing (B). Cut the two pieces to size.
• Using a jig saw or router, cut a 2½” radius on the corners of the wing.
• Use your router to create a ½” round over for the complete wing. Round over only bottom (underside edges) of the base.
• Glue the wing to the top of the base, 6″ from the front of the base.
• Drill and countersink the screw holes and secure with nine 2½” #12 stainless steel or decking screws.
• Cover the screw holes with plugs.
• Sand both sides of the base and wing.
• Seal and paint the wings.
• Glue up sufficient stock for the sides (C). Note that the lower portion of the sides extend 12″ longer than the top.
• Round over all edges except the top and bottom edges, as they will be glued to the top (D) and base (A).
• Cut the sides to final dimension.
• Trace out the contour of the wing on the bottom of each side and cut this out with a jigsaw.
• Prime and paint the portion where the wings and sides meet before assembly.
• Sand both faces of each side.
• Cut sufficient stock for the top (D). I chose to make the top heavy for added stability, by gluing eleven 2x4s together.
• Shape the top. I scribed an arbitrary arc to give the top some curvature. Take a piece of scrap wood, shape it to a pleasing curve, and trace this curvature on each end of the top.
• Use your table saw to remove as much of the waste as you can. Then contour the final shape with a plane and/or belt sander. Leave the edges 1½” thick. This will provide sufficient purchase for the screws (i.e. sufficient depth for the screws to hold in place) – as children love to ‘parachute’ off the top of the plane onto the ground.
Tail and Riser
• Cut two 2x8s just over 53″ and glue them together.
• Sand both sides of the piece.
• Cut one piece 36″ long for the tail (E) and the other 17″ long for the riser (F).
• Trim the tail and riser to shape. I started a curve 6″ from the top of the riser, extending it to the mid-point of the riser top. The curve on the front started 1″ from the bottom to meet the middle of the top. Use a soft pencil and eraser to find a curve that is pleasing to your eye.
• Rout out hand openings on the tail.
• Using your table saw or router, cut a ⅛” deep by ¾” wide dado in the center of the tail base for the riser to fit into.
• Seal and paint tail and riser assembly.
• Glue and screw the riser to the tail using four 3″ #12 screws.
Assemble the Base, Wing, Sides and Tail Unit
• Dry fit the sides, top, and base.
• Attach with one screw on each end, just to hold it in position (this will be your reference point for re-assembling.)
• Make any adjustments necessary, and mark the position so that you can re-assemble in the same sequence.
• Mark off the rest of the base that can be rounded over with the router.
• Take it apart, carefully round over the top of the base, except the area where the sides will be attached.
• Apply glue and re-assemble. Do not apply any screws through the base into the wing.
• Install 3″ #12 screws every 8″ through the base into the sides.
• Install three ½” #12 screws through the top edge into the sides (four to each side).
• Plug the holes.
• Glue and screw the tail unit flush to the top of the end of the base, using nine 2¼” #12 screws and plug the holes.
• Cut and glue up stock for the seat base (G) and seat back (H).
• Sand the parts and then cut to final dimension.
• Cut the bottom of the seat back at 10º in order to make a comfortable recline.
• Cut the back of the seat base at 10º to match the seat back. Optionally rout out a little depression in the seat in order to make it more comfortable.
• Attach the seat base to the seat back with glue and six 3″ screws.
• Seal and paint the seat.
• Attach the seat to the base from the underside with two ½” x 3″ lag bolts. Use a spade or Forstner bit to countersink the heads slightly. Do not glue the seat to the base, as you may need to adjust the seat location at a later time. The position of the seat on the base will be dependent on the size of the child that the plane is intended for. The position of the steering wheel will also have to be taken into consideration. You will notice by the photo that Koby’s arm is comfortably bent. There is sufficient space to position the seat further back for a larger child.
Nose and Propeller
• Cut and glue up stock for the nose (I). Opposing grain works best here.
• Plane to 2 ½” and sand both sides smooth.
• Cut the nose to its final 12″ diameter. You can use a band saw or jig saw. Glue the 2″ disc to the center of the nose. Smooth edges.
• Round over one side of nose with a ½” or larger round over bit.
• Mill four gussets (J) and cut each corner of the gusset at 45º.
• Glue and screw the gussets to the base, sides and top.
• Cut the nose backing (K) to fit the opening.
• Attach the backing to the gussets with one screw in each corner.
• Cut stock for the propeller (L).
• Cut a bevel on the propeller. I set my band saw to 10º to make one cut from each end. Then I cut the other sides on the band saw free hand.
• Smooth and round the edges of the propeller.
• Drill a ½” hole in the exact center of the propeller.
• Seal and paint the nose and propeller.
• Cut stock for the dash (M). It should be ½” shorter than the opening (with a 1⁄4″ gap each end).
• Screw a scrap piece of 2×2 to the top back of the dash, and then screw it to the underside of the top.
• Sand, seal and paint the dash.
• Mount a couple of gauges onto the dash. I bought two 1 ½” gauges from an auto supply center, and drilled holes so that I could epoxy them flush to the face of the dash.
• Install the dash ½” into the top
• Glue together two ¾” x 10″ boards for the steering wheel (N). Ensure that the grain directions in the boards are 90º to each other. Hardwood, such as ash, works best here.
• Plane them down to 1 ⅛” and then cut out a 9″ circle.
• Drill a ½” hole through the exact center of the wheel to accept the steering mechanism.
• Drill five equally spaced ⅝” holes around the rim of the wheel.
• Sand and apply exterior varnish.
• Cut the wheel supports (Q) and braces (R) from 2×8 stock.
• Mount the wheel to the brace, placing a washer between the two to prevent binding. You can purchase the wheels or make them out of wood.
• Attach one wheel to the underside of each wing, about 6″ from the wing tip.
Finishing It Off
• Prepare two 2″ discs (O) that will be used as washers to prevent the propeller and steering wheel from rubbing and marring the top and nose of the plane.
• Glue a 2″ disc to the center of nose (I).
• Attach the nose piece by pre-drilling a 7⁄16″ hole in the center of the nose.
• Drill a ½” hole in center of propeller.
• Secure the propeller to the nose with a ½” x 4″ lag bolt in this sequence: large flat washer, propeller, two large washers (lightly lubricated). Snug the bolt, still allowing propeller to move freely.
• Mount the steering wheel to the end of the top in the same manner. The 2″ disc glued to the edge of the top will prevent children’s fingers from pinching between the wheel and the top.
• Attach one wheel to the underside of each wing, about 6″ from the wing tip.
• Place the tail stand (P) on the bottom back of the plane so that the back rests about 4″ lower than the front, giving it a rakish air.
• Optionally, add a graphic to the plane. I painted on a lighting bolt. First I masked out the shape of the bolt (after the body of the plane was painted), then applied two coats of yellow paint. After the second coat was semi-dry, I carefully removed the masking tape. You could also mask out and paint initials on the plane’s wings or body or the back of the seat.