Tumbling Cats

Wednesday 11 July 2018

This simple toy will amuse very young children as it rolls first one way then the other for some time before stopping. Starting it off provides the child with practice in their manual co-ordination and the fun of watching the tireless cats in their never-ending game.


1 Trace out or photocopy and make a card template to assist with marking up as shown in Photo 2.

2 Cut out the tumbling cats disc and make the cut lines for the paws and tails. For the inner outlines of the legs make 1mm (1/32in) pilot holes for inserting the scrollsaw blade as can be seen in Photo 2. Make pilot holes and fret out the faces.

3 Cut out the cheeks from 1.5mm (1/16in) plywood. (Note that in Photo 2 I am testing the nose, face and cheeks for fit; do not glue at this stage.)

4 To make each of the four noses, round off the end of a length of 6mm (1/4in) dowel and cut it to length.

5 Join two pieces of plywood for the basket sides together with double-sided tape and cut out around the outline, except for the top edge. Separate the two pieces of plywood and cut out the top edges to a 5 degree bevel. This will reduce resistance for the tumbling cats axle.

6 Cut out the brackets and base and assemble and glue the basket as shown in Photo 3. Make sure that the highest edge of the bevels on the basket sides is on the inside. Clamp well while the glue is setting as shown in Photo 4. Use a small sanding block to smooth the junction between bevelled edge and the straight surface.

7 Cut the axle dowel to length and round off the ends.

8 Glue the axle into the fighting cats disc, making sure it is at exactly 90 degrees. Glue the hubs to each side with their bevelled surface facing out from the disc.

9 Glue the faces to the disc as in Photo 2. Do not glue on the cheeks until the painting is complete.

10 Prime all the surfaces that are to be painted. Use at least two coats of enamel paint, sanding them down and wiping thoroughly between coats. The outline cuts of the limbs will help you to produce neat outlines. Apply at least two coats of oil-based varnish to give a good, hard-wearing finish. When the varnish is completely dry, rub the bevelled edge on the top of the basket sides, as well as the rolling surfaces of the axle, with abrasive paper to provide traction for the disc.

11 Finally glue the noses into the holes in the faces and use epoxy resin to glue on the cheeks.