I recently made two sandbox diggers for our grandsons, Henry and Collin and their brothers, George, Alec and Beckett. You could also think of these as “backyard backhoes.” I think they’re they’re pretty darn cool looking.
The process of making these was quite involved. I knew what I wanted to make, so I looked around on the web and found a couple of designs that didn’t really appeal to me. I remembered our local hardwood dealer had one in his warehouse for awhile, and went in search of that one. I tracked down a version of it from my neighbor and used it to pattern the mechanics of my “backhoe.”
What I liked about my neighbor’s version was that the mechanism worked really well — plus it was simple and direct. The one drawback to this particular version was that the bearing for the seat was exposed, and quickly became clogged with sand in the sandbox. So a major change I made was to protect the bearing by recessing it deeper inside the seat.
I then had to decide what kind of woods I would use. I used a sheet of 3/4 inch exterior grade mahogany plywood to laminate the seat components. The rest of the backhoe is made out of cypress which is a very good exterior, lightweight wood. I decided later to paint all of the parts with exterior oil enamel because painted wood holds up much better than a clear finish outside, and it looks more playful in the bright colors I chose. A local metalsmith made the buckets for me.
As I proceeded, I tried to make templates and jigs so I can reproduce these toys. All in all, these first two sandbox diggers probably took me about a week to make. Time well spent, since I’m sure these toys will provide countless hours of fun for my grandkids and their children. Probably also fun for their parents!
- Price: $1200 plus shipping and crating. We take all major credit and debit cards.
- Your Backyard Backhoes will be custom made to order and will provide years of enjoyment for generations! Please email me for more details, including order fulfillment time, custom color choices, logo designs, and shipping costs: [email protected]
- The logos on the backhoes are custom designed by my wife, Maureen, especially for the boys. Collin, Alec and Beckett Bright will be constructing imaginary things with “Bright Brothers Construction” equipment and Henry Atom and George Bond Shaughnessy are the “Atomic Brothers Construction” company.
- The backhoe is heavy enough to sit solidly on the ground but light enough to pick up and move around.
- Of course, the mechanism really works — and works very smoothly. You can dig with it, pick up and move objects. And I’m sure the kids will come up with other functions for these diggers!
- The photos in this article were taken in Helena before we deliver the diggers to the grandkids. I will post photos with the grandkids as soon as I can.