A few months ago, as part of the “work-from-home” lifestyle that includes more time with my son during the day so he doesn’t have to spend all of it entertaining himself, we started doing small projects together. We worked our way through a few little things here and there, and then we moved on to a big Lego project — a Millennium Falcon. Then a wooden version of the ship, much smaller. We’ve done plastic model cars here and there, lots of gaming, a few other things, some practical set up stuff for electronic wiring, etc.
And we started working on a wooden model of a T-Rex. You’re given a large wooden sheet, 3 of them actually, and all the little parts are pre-cut/punched and just need to be separated from the main sheet. Then you take all the little pieces, and without gluing, nailing, or any sort of adhesive whatsoever, you put the pieces together. Sometimes it’s a little joint that holds four other joints in place. Or a shim between the toes and bottom of the foot that wedges into place and holds all the “bones” in place.
We did the first part of it over a month ago, assembling the feet and legs; after 30 minutes, I was ready to pitch it at the wall. And getting it together, holding eight pieces in place until the “lockpin” wedges into place was tricky. I felt it was near impossible, and I expected it was going to quickly turn into a project for just me rather than one Jacob and I could do together. About a week later, we tackled the second foot, and Jacob could do the first 90% of the leg until it came time to get the lynchpin/lockpin/wedge into place. I took a deep breath, examined the pieces REALLY carefully, went at it in a slightly different way, and CLICK. It snapped into place perfectly. No muss, no fuss. A second one did the same. THIS was the way it was supposed to work but the first one was off probably by a mm or two and it just didn’t “click”. After I saw the second one, I went back and adjusted the first one…it’s still a REALLY tight fit, but closer.
After that, it was mostly smooth sailing. There are only 85 pieces in total, but each step would wedge four or five in unique ways, and a couple of steps was about all our brains could handle at a go.
We did a marathon about 2 weeks ago, and burned ourselves out. So we’ve sat on it for a bit. Today, I wanted to get going again. We were close and I wanted to finish so Andrea and Jacob could have that table for another project that is pending. Jacob and I started working on it, went through a couple of steps, all good, and … wait a minute … that piece CANNOT go on THERE. That isn’t the way it is shaped. We were on step 16 or so, and waaaay back in step 5? I put a piece in upside down. A cross piece that now has other pieces that have to attach to it and it’s in the wrong way. PITA.
Jacob wanted to just keep going but we couldn’t. There was no way the piece would fit. So we backed off 11 steps, breaking one of the pieces in the process (grrrr…), readjusting that piece, reassembling a bunch of other pieces, all the way back to step 16 relatively quickly, then on to 17, 18, 19. And it’s done. Except it should be more upright, shouldn’t it? Oh crap. Way back at that same step 5, one of the pieces did NOT go into a groove the way it was supposed to…I can see it now, but the diagram in step 5 does NOT show that happening. So I didn’t do it, which means our T-Rex doesn’t quite stand completely upright. It is more a head-to-the-ground kind of T-Rex. But when you add batteries and a small noise pack, it DOES growl, roar and shuffle it’s wooden legs forward. Jacob’s view is “good enough, move on”, and I don’t blame him. But I’m stubborn enough that at some point, I will indeed back off 14 steps, fix the piece I messed up, and reassemble the rest just so I know it’s done right.
It was challenging and frustrating but a cool design. And we did it together. I wish it was more me helping him than him helping me, but we finished. And I could have gone in another way, set it aside, forgotten about it, but we didn’t.
We made a decision that today we would choose to assemble a T-Rex by hand and to finish the project.
What choices did you make today?