Month: March 2009

The Biplane

So about a week ago Tim, a young boy & one of our Russian neighbors, came knocking on our door.
He told me, rather matter of factly, that he needed my help building a project out of wood.

He needed my help because he didn’t have any nails, or glue, or tools or even wood.

He explained that his cousin was soon to give birth to a baby girl and he wanted to give her something as a gift.

“Fine,” I said, “what do you have in mind?”

“An airplane,” he told me.

I let that sink in a bit then asked about how big he wanted this airplane to be.

“60 inches”

“That is a pretty big plane. In fact it is about as long as she is tall.” I said, pointing towards Susan.

“Hmmmm,” he thought, “maybe 48 inches.”

“That is about how tall you are, how about 12 inches? I don’t think a baby is really interested in a airplane, but, in case I’m wrong, and considering how little she is going to be, the only thing she is going to do with a 60 or 48 inch airplane is lean against it.”

He did not appear to be fully swayed by my argument but finally, albeit reluctantly, agreed.

“So, what kind of plane are we building?” I asked

“One of those ones with two wings, ya know, one above the other?”

“Ah, a biplane”


He then told me he was going to go home and work out the plans for our project and left to get right to work.

About 20 minutes later he knocked on the door again and showed me his step by step plans.

I thanked him and told him I had some ideas as well, I could not start the project right away, but we were certainly going to get it done this week.

He was a bit disappointed but said okay and left.

About 15 minutes later he was at the door again.

“Did you get a chance to review the plans yet?” he asked with a serious look on his face.

“Uhh, just quickly, but I will study them more in detail later.”

He said okay and left again.

The next evening, at about 6:30, he was at my door again ready to get to work. I explained that I could not get to it today, but I will be ready to start tomorrow.  You could plainly see on his face that this disappointed him,

“Why cant you start today?” he asked

“Because I am in the middle of other things.” I replied. His shoulders slumped, and he said “But we’ll be a day behind schedule.”

“Don’t worry, we will be okay. I have some ideas that I think you will like.” He nodded okay and left for home.

At around 2 in the afternoon the next day I rummaged around in the garage for a piece of 8 quarter clear pine I had, some quarter inch plywood and a few scraps of pine and poplar. I squared up a foot long hunk of the 8 quarter, and drew the lines for the shape of the body of the plane.

I  cut out the shape on the table saw and then cut out the area where the tail pieces would fit. I cut the rudder and rear wing pieces from the plywood along with the main wings. From a small piece of 3/4 x 1 inch poplar I made the piece that will hold the wheels (the only thing I bought, $1.25 for 4) and from some scrap pine cut out the pieces that would hold and support the two wings as well as the propeller.

I then sanded and shaped the pieces and prepared to glue them together.

It was at about this time that Tim showed up; I heard him knocking on the back door and called him over to the garage.

“You started without me??” he asked.

“Yeah, I had some ideas I wanted to try, I think that you will like them.” I couldn’t tell him that because of his age I did not want him playing with the power tools without his parents around.

I dry fitted all the pieces together and showed him how it was going to look. His disappointment at my not including him from the beginning vanished and he was ready to help me glue it together.

The glue comes in two parts; there is the glue you apply to one piece and then a spray activator you apply to the other.  Seeing me blowing the activator dry on the first piece  Tim took it upon himself to blow on each other piece I did and then give me the go ahead to fasten the pieces together.

While we were doing the assembly I suggested that perhaps this was not really a toy a girl would appreciate, certainly not an infant, and that maybe he should just go ahead and play with it.

“Yeah, I guess your right.” he replied between blowing on a couple of pieces. “I guess that I could play with it till she gets older”

When it was all assembled it looked like this

Just my guess, but I think that he liked it.

In one of those “Kids say the darndest things” moments, while we were glueing it together, he looks up to me and say’s:

“When I’m older, and your dead, I am going to remember you helping me with this.”