Project:
Rubber Band Pistol
 Starting Date: February 2009
 Completion Date: February 2009
 Inspiration: My childhood and my son...
 Size: 13" X 4"
 Wood Species: Yellow Birch
 Finish: None
 Materials Source: Shop scraps
 Additional References: None

Chapter 1

I vividly remember those times when, as a child, I was making my own toys. Not that I did not have any store bought stuff, it is just that what I could imagine was a whole lot more exciting! Of course, the gap between what I was imagining and my woodworking abilities seldom matched.

Some of the things that I imagined and built when I was child: Soap Box cars, Spin top, Electrocardiograph (Complete with back-lighting and rolling display made out of a paper spool), Bow and arrow, Throw spear, Cabin in a tree, Sling-shot, Rubber band "pistol", etc.

I find that my kids generation has been robbed of the opportunity to develop their imagination. They are overly stimulated by a never-ending carousel of stimuli that keep their mind in a "receiving mode": Too many toys and games, Internet, Films, Videos, TV, Video Games, School, FaceBook, Extra curricular activities: sports, music, etc., They are never left alone long enough to be truly bored and be forced to develop their imagination (or "Producing mode"). Imagination is the most powerful antidote to boredom and is an important part of problem solving, especially if you try to go from imagination to building. Imagination is therefore a tool that is necessary when you are a child and even more important when you are a grown up.

One afternoon, I was looking at my son and he seemed bored... I thought, Good time for a lesson!

I spent some time with him and talked about my childhood and shared with him that I got bored too sometimes when I was his age.
<Dad> "What do you need to do in order to stop being bored?"
<Son> He rapidly answered: "I need to find something to do!"
<Dad> "How will you find something to do?" (That was the hard part!)
<Son> He was only thinking of repeating past games; He was stuck!
<Dad> "What if you could be anything or anyone? What do you see yourself doing?"
<Son> He thought really hard and timidly smiled. As if it was impossible to be thinking that. "I would be a spy on a mission"
<Dad> "Hum... Spies, they need gadgets to go on their mission. Now that you are a spy, what do you need for your mission?"
<Son> "A gun! Let me go and get one from my Toy box..." (Ah, got you!)
<Dad> "Wait, now that you are a spy, maybe you need a special gun that is different than the ones you already have..."
<Son> "Yes, it would be good to have a gun that actually shoots a "bullet", then I could be sure when my enemies get hit. There is this cool gun that I saw at the store the other day, it shoots foam bullets. Can we go and get one?"
<Dad> "We could, but wouldn't you rather build your own as you imagine it should be?"

We then pulled out pen and paper and started drawing what he perfect gun would look like. Then came the problem solving part of the equation... What can we use for projectile? How accurate do we think it will be? What material can we use to built it? How big does it have to be? His imagination, just like mine when I was his age, went way beyond his woodworking skills. So, the next thing was to translate his imagination into something he could build... So we entered the shop...  30 minutes later he was shooting rubber bands at all the villains in the house. He felt invincible shooting rubber bands with his 14" long piece of Hockey stick that had a wood screw on the front and a Clothespin nailed to the board through the spring as the release mechanism.

My son stayed busy and interested throughout the imagination, problem solving and building phases. He was no longer bored and perhaps learned an important lesson about imagination. It is my hope that my son remembers that HE has the ability to use his imagination... and perhaps give him the taste to develop his own woodworking skills.


Chapter 2

A few days later, I went back to the shop thinking that I surely could improve on that design from my childhood. This is what came out...




This Rubber Band Pistol ended up being surprisingly accurate and my son still takes it out to play almost 4 years later.

PS: It had never occurred to me to look on the Web before making this toy. I later found very interesting examples at http://oggcraft.jp/eng/eng_gun.html , including Youtube videos of the guns in action.



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