This was a fun little weekend project. My friend was having an animal themed baby shower and asked if I could make some of the decorations. This was one of them, a doorway hanging three toed sloth. Ultimately, I painted it grey to match...
Step 1: The Template
The overall design was very simple. I created a template as seen above. The body is one big piece. The two front arms are slightly different so that they will be holding the door at different places. For the back legs I cut two of the same template legs, and put them at different angles when attached to the body. Lastly, I cut 4 tiny hook shaped pieces for the claws.
Step 2: Materials
For this project, all of the wood was recycled. I was renovating a closet took out all of the old paper wrapped shelves. I removed the paper and then glued different board together to make wider. To do this, I slightly scored the end of each board the full length of the board. I put wood glue same edge and then pressed the boards together with arms clamps. Once I had the boards clamped together, I took a damp paper towel and wiped the excess glue that had pressed out of the binding area. Removing the glue while still wet is easy. Waiting to remove it until it has already dried requires lots of sanding, and can discolor the wood. The small areas with dried glue also won't absorb stain as well.
When picking which board to put together, I tried to make sure (as much as possible) that the grain and color were similar so that, once glued, they looked like the same board.
Step 3: Cutting the Pieces
Once the wood was fully glued, I traced templates on to the boards. The body template was traced onto a board that was a true inch wide. The arms and legs were traced onto boards that were a true 3/4 inch width.
Once I had traced all the pieces, I used a coping saw to cut out the individual pieces. This can be done more quickly with a variety of power/electric saws, but I wasn't in a rush, and sometimes I like the time and repetition of old hand tools. The claw was particularly hard because it was so small to cut out. I had, at one point, to hold it with hand clamps will sawing it.
Once the claws were cut out, I hung them from the door frame to make sure that they hooked in to the back of the molding and held tight.
Step 4: Fitting the Claws
The last bit of cutting was just to fit the claws onto the ends of the Sloth's hands. I first placed the claws approximately where they should be for a vertical grip on the door frame. As you see in the pictures, this involved putting them at slightly different angles depending on the angle of the arm/leg.
Step 5: Placement
In order to mark the placement for the claws, I first had to mark how the arms and legs would be placed on the body section. I placed all appendages where i wanted them on the body, and marked the places lightly with a pencil. Do not mark too hard or you can indent the wood. This takes significantly more sanding to remove. Once the arms and legs were placed where I wanted them, I place the claws at each end and marked the placement lightly with a pencil. I then used the hand saw from my mitre box to cut out groves at the end of each appendage. Once the grove was cut out, I used a thin squared file to make sure the grove was even throughout.
Step 6: Gluing the Claws
I left the groves slightly small when I cut them, so that the claws fit snugly and held tight. However, I also put a few drips of wood glue into the grove before fitting in the claws for additional hold. I let them dry overnight.
Step 7: Contour and Smoothing
Once all of the body parts were cut out, came the most time consuming part. I rounded all of the edges to give the design a more organic look. To do so I used a combination of a hand place, a rasp, various files, and sand paper. I started by using a hand plan to take the the most amount of wood off of all edges on the various body parts. I then used a rough rasp to even out the planed edges and make them more smooth. Then various files to continue to smooth them out until the edges looked smooth. Finally I used rough grain sandpaper to further rough the edges, 60 to 100 grit. I did not use finer grain sandpaper yet.
Step 8: Individual Claws
As a small detail, I glued 3 parallel sections of 1/4 inch dowel to the outward facing face of each claw, to give the impression of individual claws. I then trimmed them down so that they very slightly extended beyond the top edge of each claw face.
Step 9: Attaching the Limbs
I designed the arms and legs to swing slightly open, by putting them on a small hinge. They swung open about 3 inches to each side. This allowed the appendages to open as I lifted the sloth to the door frame, and then to swing inward to grip the door.
In order to do this I used the placement marks that I originally made indication where each arm and leg would go. Within the outlined pencil markings, I put the hinges where i wanted them and marked the body section for the screw holes on the hinges. I then marked the back side of the arm or leg for the screw holes on the side of the hinge.
I made sure that I placed the hinges at an angle the matched the angle of the arm or leg. I also put the hinge about an inch away from the bottom edge of the arm or leg. I did this to prevent the arms and legs from opening too much. In this way, the inch of wood behind the hinge hit the body after it opened a few inches and stopped from opening any further.
I drilled pilot holes with my smallest drill bit (it must be thinner than the screw so that the screw holds) and screwed in the hinge screws on both sides with a Phillip head screw driver. This was tricky as it was a tight space, but it ultimately worked fine.
Once the arms and legs were all attached, the sloth was done. I preferred the natural wood look, which is why the put the natural wood sloth as the face of this instructable. However, it could be stained and/or painted to fit your preference. I ultimately did paint it grey and put a face on it for the party (as requested by the host) as you can see in the picture above.
This was a fun weekend project that seemed to be well received. I hope you enjoy it.