Wood Lego Man (from a 2×4)

In Tutorial by jackmanworks@gmail.com

Giant Lego man made from a single 8 foot long pine 2×4 for the Summers Woodworking 3rd annual 2×4 competition for 2015. Legs and hips were finished with flame and linseed oil. Body and arms were finished with red wood dye and linseed oil.

Build Details

It all started by measuring every piece of the Lego man and transferring these dimensions into my computer.

Autodesk AutoCAD was used to create the drawings. The exact dimensions were input for each piece and the whole model was scaled up so that the depth of the body & legs were 3″ — perfect for working with a 3-1/2″ wide 2×4 with just a little bit of a waste factor built in for the round corners.

Cut down the 8′ long 2×4 into rough lengths for the body, legs, arms, hips, and head. These dimensions are listed both in the plans and also in the following steps.

The legs are cut to just over 5-1/2″ in rough length and it takes 4 of these pieces glued together to have enough material for each leg. Flatten the face of the pieces with either a jointer or sander and glue them together. Then it’s just a matter of flattening the glue-up, cutting a 2-1/2″ wide piece for each leg, and cutting the shape of the legs using the template.
To transfer the template, I printed it out full size and used carbon paper to transfer this over to each piece of wood.

The body is created very similarly through laminating 4 pieces, this time just over 4-1/2″ in rough length. The shape of the body is quite simple, so just measure and draw the lines on the body. Cut it down to the correct thickness and knock the corners off to create the body shape.

The shape of the arms is a little bit trickier. Take 2 more pieces cut to 4-1/2″ in length and draw the arm shape on each piece – this is a good place to use carbon paper again. Connect the dots and cut it out on your saw of choice. To finish them, use a router to create a round-over on one side of each arm — make sure you have a left a right arm designated at this point! Otherwise, it’s going to be an awkward conversation with Mr. Lego man when he’s given 2 left arms.

The hips are a little tricky too. Start with a piece 5-1/4″ long. In order to create the cove shape where the top of the legs fit, I used my table saw. With this procedure you set up a temporary angled fence on the table saw. By nibbling off a little bit at a time and moving the fence a little each time, you can get the shape just right.

At this point the piece is still too thick so you can cut it down to thickness and then use that cutoff to create the circle that will be fastened to the hips in order to hold the legs. I simply used wood glue to hold the circle to the main part of the hips.

The head is another laminated piece made from 4 pieces rough cut to just over 4-1/2″. This piece is glued together with wood glue and then mounted on the lathe. It’s rough turned to the thickest diameter and then measurements are transferred to the piece. From there, the rounded corners are cut and final shaping and sanding is done.

The hands come from another small cutoff. A compass is used to draw the pieces onto the 2×4. First cut the outside diameter and then sand that round and cut the inside diameter and hole for the hand.

Rip the remainder of the 2×4 down the middle to create 1-1/2″ square spindles. These spindles are turned on the lathe to create a 1″ diameter dowel to act as pivot points for all of the pieces. (notice that the only dowel which is different is the one which attaches to the hands, which are closer to a 5/8″ diameter)
These dowels are then cut to length depending on how deep you drill the receiving holes. Each dowel is glue into one side and the other receiving hole is left lose to allow for rotation of the parts.
If you are planning on applying a finish to the pieces, be sure to leave a little bit of wiggle room at the dowels which tighten up with a couple layers of finish.

Mr. Lego did not look personable enough so I thought making a mini-me was only appropriate. I used a wood-burner to create a beard and eyeballs to mock my own.

At the same time, I also turned up the heat to create a burned finish on the legs and hips. This is done with a propane torch and just enough time on each face to give it some color.
It was also at this time I decided to fashion him his own hammer from the leftover pieces (to mimic my mascot Jacko from my old logo). Maybe one of these days I’ll sew him a hat!!

I also stamped “Jackman Carpentry” (my previous moniker) onto his chest using the toner transfer method. This is done by printing an image mirrored and then using acetone rubbed on the paper to transfer the image to the wood.

Red wood dye was used for his “shirt” on his body and arms. Linseed oil was used on the rest of the parts.
After waiting for all of this to dry, a couple of coats of poly were sprayed on every piece to seal them.

Very little scrap was left over from the 2×4. Other than sawdust, I saved all of my scrap pieces in this box to see how much was left.