Kid’s Toy Excavator




We haven’t heard from our pal Craig Smith, aka the Firefly Workshop, in awhile. Craig and his family moved to a bigger house. He’s glad to have the extra space, but has no dedicated shop space. Yet. He has plans to build an “ultimate outbuilding workshop” this summer. In the meantime, he hasn’t stopped making. Here is a cool kid’s excavator toy he built. He explains:

My son is now 2 1/2, and so my projects tend to revolve around him. I built an excavator toy out of scrap aluminum beams salvaged from inside old hot tub covers. 2” wide C-shaped beams put together as one to make the primary and secondary booms. Additional aluminum was cut for the end and joining plates (in black) assembled with stainless steel hardware. All pivot points have bronze sleeve bushings in them for long life. The bucket was made from thicker spa cover 4” wide beams salvaged. Cut, bent, and pop-riveted together with precise cutting and measuring, the bucket angles with linkages much like an actual excavator. Unlike similar manufactured toys, mine has a crossover lever-linkage. As you pull the lever towards you, the bucket and arm come towards you. Bought units do the opposite. The unit will be bolted to a 4X4 beam surrounding my son’s sandbox, the particle board base is a “test” platform. The only thing I bought was the wideboy bicycle seat. I wanted a proper throne for this project. While letting my son play with it to see what needed tweaking, he would cry “Digger, digger, digger!,” if it went back to the shop to be worked on!


Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn