Google “DIY wooden spool project” and you will come up with the following projects repeated over and over again: clock, checkerboard, table, chair, rolling bookcase. Although these are great, I wanted to make something unique and different with the gargantuan size wooden cable spool sitting in the barn. The inspiration came when I spotted this backyard toy from the Cedar Works company called a Rockopotamus (seriously, how freaking cute is that name?). I came up with my own version that is a fraction of the cost AND it uses recycled materials!
The inspiration project from Cedar Works is made entirely from cedar and costs $500…nope, not going to happen kids. My project is less than $150 – the most expensive part being the galvanized pipe that is used for the handle and the supports. Kurt was generous and gave up his wooden spool for this project because he f
elt threatened by loves me.
Using a reciprocating saw with a demolition blade and a sturdy husband, we cut through one of the middle boards to access the long bolts that hold wooden spools together. I wanted to save as much as possible but the bolts wouldn’t break easily so they were sacrificed. After the bolts were cut and the wood sections were taken apart (I saved the slightly curved boards from the middle for a future project), we cut the top and bottom of the spool into *almost* half – they were off by one board because of the large steel ring in the center.
The smaller half circles of the cut spool were used for this project. To make the structure sturdy, I used 4′ galvanized 1/2″ pipe in three places to hold the half circles together. Starting with the flanges on one half circle, I then screwed in the pipe to the attached flange and then screwed in the other flange which secured it to the other half circle.
I will be honest and say that this involved a lot of measuring and remeasuring to make the pipes even. Once the pipes were secure, I cut the decking boards for the benches – they were cut to be flush with the sides of the half circles. Three decking boards were used for each bench side – they were attached with exterior screws after pre-drilling the holes.
Handy Tip: use a straight edge to draw a line down the boards as a guide for pre-drilling.
Next, a small board was cut and attached right above the middle flange on the inside of the half circles. This board was screwed into the half circle to attach the two decking boards that serve as the foot rest.
After the bench and foot rest boards were attached, I sanded down any rough areas on the entire contraption. Once it was smooth, I attached small boards on the half circles that serve as stoppers in case any little a-holes decide to act like little a-holes while rocking.
Side note: I love that the “DO NOT FLIP” was left intact on the side!
The last part of the rocking thingermabobber assembly was the handle.
This was made from the same size galvanized pipe – the height is 16″ and the length is slightly more than 4′. Using 90 degree elbows, 1/2″ nipples, and flanges on the outside of the half circles, Kurt and I assembled and tightened the handle as much as possible. And because you don’t want to go to the hospital with broken teeth, Kurt suggested a pool noodle (genius!) as a bumper on the handle.
Simply cut the pool noodle down the middle and slip it over the handle – I used zip ties on the ends to hold it in place.
If you like this project, be sure to check out the DIY Covered Sandbox and Playdeck!
So what do you think of my oh so much more affordable version of the kid’s see saw? Is this a project that you could see in your outdoor future? And came someone come up with an amazing name for this thing, please?
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