DIY Waterproof Toymaking
February 28, 2013 12:09 PM   Subscribe

I want to make a floating castle for my kids to play with in the bath. How can I do this?

My two young children have some plastic "army men" that they play with in the bathtub, except that they're actually knights instead of the green soldiers (same size, though).

I would love to make for them a waterproof-ish castle on a floating base that they could play with in the bathtub, and which could also serve as a housing for all the little plastic knights errant.

The design will be fairly simple: 4 castle walls on top of some kind of base. And it needs to float, so I imagine the base actually needs to be a hull, probably about 10 - 12 inches in diameter.

I have access to some really really nice woodworking tools, but I'm not really sure about making wood toys for the bath. Sounds like a bad idea. Is there another material I could use? Soumething lightweight, floaty and waterproof? I'm thinking some kind of plastic but don't know anything about working with plastic.

Can I do this for less than $100 USD?
posted by Doleful Creature to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total)
Get a shoebox-sized (or larger, or two together) Rubbermaid bin, permanently seal the lid on with some silicone caulking. Turn it upside down. There's your floating base. You could paint it to look like an island or something. Then add your plastic castle on top of that. You could go basic, with some PVC pipe turrets on the four corners and plastic walls, or get fancy and build it out of wood.
posted by bondcliff at 12:19 PM on February 28, 2013

There are all kinds of excellent foam products available - online craft suppliers or educational suppliers are a good place to look. Foams come in a wide range of colours, thicknesses and densities, and are very easy to cut and glue. Foam is often used for architectural models.
posted by pipeski at 12:37 PM on February 28, 2013

You could use polyethylene foam, the material which is used for pool noodles. It is easy to cut but holds its shape, is waterproof, and floats. It is also very cheap. Also, it is light and soft so it cannot be used as a weapon. Sections of pool noodle could be used for the turrets and one flat sheet of foam could be cut to the correct dimensions for walls, a base, and a removable roof. You will need to use foam-specific adhesives, but those can be had for under $10 from the same websites that sell sheets of foam.

Of course, a wooden castle would be much prettier.
posted by steinwald at 12:37 PM on February 28, 2013

Toy stores have blocks made out of a foam material to play with in the tub. GEt some of those, cut as needed with an electric knofe and assemble into a castle with waterproof glue!
posted by WeekendJen at 12:38 PM on February 28, 2013

Best answer: Foam Kickboards, One for the base and one to chop up for walls, ~$15 each.

Pool noodle, $1.95. For turrets.

Foam-safe adhesive, ~$10. You may already have glue that will work, though.
posted by steinwald at 1:20 PM on February 28, 2013

Best answer: Safety officer says anything that could have pointy parts (castle turrets?) would be a doubleplus-ungood thing to slip and fall on in the bath. I'd opt for some sort of foam instead of anything unyielding like wood.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:26 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Remember to add a ballast weight so that the thing stays upright.
posted by ckape at 2:28 PM on February 28, 2013

My kids have a wooden boat one of them made in preschool, and it's held up well -- better than many plastic bath toys, which mildew and get thrown away. So don't immediately write off wood as a material.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:53 PM on February 28, 2013

Balsa wood?
posted by penguin pie at 6:54 PM on February 28, 2013

Yeah, I'd make the whole thing out of pool noodles. you can get them for a buck at the dollar store. Make a base and lash it together, and then cut and carve to make the rest. too much potential for injury if you have anything solid, what with the slipperiness of children and bathtubs. and they're made to drip dry clean, and you don't want something that will get mildewy.
posted by lemniskate at 5:15 AM on March 1, 2013

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