DIY Toy Fishing Pole (that reels in)…and Magnetic Fabric Fish
Cami from “Tidbits” is back today — and oh, I’m so glad she is! Because she has created the most darling Toy Fishing Pole that actually reels the magnetic fish right in. Just think how fun this would be to make as gifts for birthday parties and Christmas. So much fun……and absolutely DARLING!
. . . . .
Hello everyone! It’s Cami from Tidbits, and I’m glad to be back! For today’s project, I’ve teamed up with my husband again, to bring you a tutorial for making a Toy Fishing Pole and little fishes to go with it.
The pole is a simple wooden construction that actually winds up the “fishing line” onto the functioning “reel”.
Oh, and that little lure that is attached to the string? Yep, it has a magnet on the end that actually “catches” the little fabric fishes (that also have a hidden magnet inside).
The perfect toy for little hands to learn some coordination and skill, all while having some fun.
This project includes a little wood and a little fabric. These are the best kind of projects, in my humble opinion, because it uses a little bit of HIM (my husband) – a little bit of HER (that’s me!). All with the sole purpose in delighting the children.
A real team effort, if you ask me.
But, if you’re handy with wood and tools, you can tackle the entire project on your own. It’s really not that difficult! (I just like having an excuse to ask my husband to do a project with me!)
And somehow, that husband of mine endured the persistence of his crazy blogger wife, and created something better than I could have imagined. (In my perfect dream world, he would do nothing but stay at home and do woodworking projects to my hearts content.)
This Fishing Pole is the perfect size for a little toddler (and would make a great gift!), but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you we haven’t all had our fun with this toy – age 32 on down. :)
Such a great imaginative toy that will get a lot of love at our house, I’m sure!
If you are ready, keep reading to find out how to make your own little fabric fish and wooden fishing pole.
We’ll start with the easy part: The fish.
There are so many fun ways you could make your fish, but I took the easiest possible way out for these little guys. I like to keep things simple.
I gathered a collection of some of my favorite fabrics, with a bit of a coastal feel to them. I left edges raw and un-finished, completely embracing the frayed edge look. And I LOVE the look! If you do too, let me show you how easy it is to make them.
For each fish, you will need the following:
- One round Magnet
- Bought mine in a pack from Hobby Lobby
- A fish shape pattern
- I simply “googled” fish patterns, and found my favorite and printed it off to my desired size. You could just as easily free hand one as well.
- Fabric of choice for the front and back of the fish
- Just enough for the shape of the fish, in all the variety of fabrics you desire.
- Fleece Fabric or some kind of soft/thin batting
- This is to make the fishy feel just a bit plush and cozy, and to stabilize the magnet. You will need at least 2 layers inside.
First, use your fish pattern to cut 2 layers of the outer fabric and 2 layers of the fleece or batting.
Trim the fleece about 1/4th of an inch smaller than the outer fabric.
Line the 2 layers of fleece fish together evenly. Place 1 magnet in between the layers, centered in the body of the fish as much as possible.
Stitch through the 2 layers of fleece around the magnet, securing it in place.
No need to worry how this looks. It will be completely hidden.
Take your 2 pieces of outer fabric and place them on either side of your fleece pieces, “right” side of the fabric facing outward.
If you need to, pin around the fish to keep it all in place. I prefer to keep the layers together with my hands as I’m sewing because I’m lazy like that. :)
Your final step will be to sew 1/4 of an inch away from the edge, all around the fish.
Trim off any long threads or uneven edges.
And that is it! Couldn’t get any easier, right? Now, just set those aside for now.
Okay, onto the fishing pole. A little more intense for me (because woodworking/power tools aren’t my thing), but my husband swears it is soooooo easy.
But I am sure you can! So, here we go!
A FEW WORDS TO READ BEFORE THE TUTORIAL:
We love the fishing pole! But after playing with them for a bit, there are a few things we would change if we were to do it again. So pay attention, because there are a couple of times I will tell you to do what I say, and not what we did. I will bold them.
Also, we tried 2 methods for the pole, because we couldn’t decide which would work best.
I liked the method on the left, he liked the one on the right. But they both look pretty cool. I will show step by step how to do the one on the left, with the solid spool, and then show you how you can adjust that to make the one on the right. Deal?
Supplies and Tools:
- Wood Glue
- Measuring Tape
- Sand Paper
- Small Eye screws
- Any type of string or rope
- Just make sure it fits through the Eye screws
- We used 85 inches of rope. This gave PLENTY of line to wind.
- Wood Clamp
- 1/4 inch Drill Bit
- 1/8 inch Drill Bit
- 3/8 inch Drill Bit
- 5/8 inch Drill Bit
- We used a spade Drill Bit that we had on hand, but any type will work.
- Wooden Spool
- Found mine at Hobby Lobby
- 2 Wooden Discs
- 1 small Wooden Toy Wheel
- You guessed it . . . Hobby Lobby
- 1 Axle Peg
- For the turning handle (Hobby Lobby)
- 3 wooden Dowels
- For the handle
- 1 inch square dowel, 6 inches long
- WARNING: I thought the square would look cute, and it does. But we have learned that it is uncomfortable for little hands to hold onto. I strongly suggest going with a round dowel for the handle.
- We also bought these dowels at Hobby Lobby, and cut them to size at home. A Lumber store might do this for you if you don’t have equipment to cut wood.
- For the Pole
- 5/8th’s inch round dowel, 21.5 inches long.
- For the Peg (where the magnet attaches at the end of the rope, pictured, but not cut)
- Use the same 5/8th’s inch dowel and cut 1 inch long
- For connecting the spool to the handle
- 1/4 inch dowel, 3 3/4 inch long (pictured, but not cut)
- 2 round magnets
Clamp together the 2 wooden discs, off to one side of the discs.
Mark the center. Insert the 1/4 inch Drill Bit to your Drill, and drill through both discs in the center. Hold onto the clamp to keep your hand safe. Or if you are watching a loved one do this, be sure to warn them to not drill through their hand ;). A few times.
Set the discs aside.
Grab your handle piece, and mark in the center of one end.
Using the 5/8th drill bit, and a clamp for safety . . . .
. . . . drill in the center down 3/4’s of an inch.
Ours is a little wonky, but it worked just fine!
Drop some wood glue down into the hole.
And then insert your pole into the hole.
Wipe off any excess glue that came out, and let this dry until it feels secure.
Meanwhile, find the wooden spool and dab some glue on both ends.
Line your wooden discs (which you previously drilled holes into) up with the holes in the spool on both ends.
Clamp these together (with the clamp off to the side, not in the center), and let dry.
Now, measure 5/8 inch from the center.
But real quick, before you drill, look at the picture below.
You will be drilling on this mark you just made. The center of the drill has to be exactly 5/8th’s of an inch from the center of the disc. This is so the wooden wheel will fit in the center and not get in the way of the peg handle used for turning (as seen above). You may want to line that small wooden wheel up with the center hole and be sure the hole you are about to drill will give enough room for the spinning handle.
Using the drill bit attached to the drill . . . .
. . . . make your hole about 3/8 inch deep.
Drop some wood glue into that hole you just drilled.
Insert the peg handle into the hole and let dry.
Now we will attach the winding spool to the handle.
Mark 1 1/4 inches down from the top of the handle.
Using the 1/4 inch drill bit, make a hole 3/4 inch deep.
Dab some glue into that hole and insert the 1/4 inch round, 3 3/4 inch cut dowel piece into that hole. You will need at least 3 inches of dowel exposed for the spool assembly. Let dry.
Insert the spool all the way through both holes on both ends.
There should be a small piece hanging out the other end.
Place some glue through the hole of the small wooden wheel. Do not get glue on the inside of the wheel! To do this, my husband was blowing through the hole after he dabbed some glue inside.
It takes a little convincing but insert the wheel onto the remaining piece of wood sticking out. Don’t let the wooden wheel get glued to the spool itself, or you won’t be able to spin it.
Now you need to drill a hole into the spool, where the rope will be inserted and glued in place.
Place the 1/8 inch drill bit into your drill.
Below you will see us drill a hole into the center of the spool. BUT WAIT!! DON’T DO THAT!
We learned later on, that the rope winds around the spool better if you drill the hole to the far end of the spool. Then it won’t cluster closer to the handle so badly. You will see below how we moved the hole (after the fact).
So after you have drilled a small hole on the far end, dab some wood glue on one end of the rope.
Twist the glued end into the hole, until it feels securely in there. Let the glue dry.
Now you need to screw the eye screws into the pole. We did 2 hooks, one on top and one in the middle.
Place the screws to the side of the pole where the spool handle is. Line them up as evenly as possible.
Now feed the other end of the rope (opposite the end you glued into the spool already) up through the eye hooks. Once you have done that, you are ready to make the little peg at the end, with a magnet for catching the fish.
Place that little peg piece securely in the wood clamp.
Using the 1/8 inch drill bit, drill a hole in the center of one end.
Put glue on the end of the rope and twist it into the hole.
Using a hot glue gun, glue a magnet onto the end of the small peg.
Another word of advice – GLUE 2 MAGNETS ON THE END OF THIS PEG!! It adds a little extra strength so those fishes don’t fall off the pole when the kiddos go fishing. So much less frustration. Trust me! :)
Okay, your pole is just about finished. At this point my husband took some sandpaper to the wood and softened up all the edges and sanded down wood glue that was in places we didn’t want it to be. I then taped around the handle and painted it a pretty coastal blue. However, I SUGGEST YOU PAINT THE HANDLE OR ANY PARTS YOU PLAN TO PAINT OR STAIN, BEFORE YOU BEGIN BUILDING THE POLE. That would have been so much easier.
And that’s is. That completes the first fishing pole.
If you would like to make a fishing pole that looks more like a fly fishing rod, here are some tips for how my husband did that. Only a few small changes.
For this design, he drilled his hole all the way through the handle.
Then he glued the little wheel on a piece of the 1/4 inch round dowel. (Sorry, I don’t have exact measurements for this one. He threw it together on a quick whim. I was snapping pictures as fast as I could so he wouldn’t get sick of me.)
He put that stick through the hole.
Then he drilled 5 holes in one of the round discs. One in the middle, and four more spaced evenly about 3/8 inch from outside edge. He did this on 2 discs. He cut 3 sticks the size he wanted, and one about double that length. He glued those sticks into the 4 corner holes.
Then he put the other disc onto the other end of the sticks. The one stick which is longer serves as the handle. Then he glued it in place onto the stick already on the handle. The rope ties into the middle stick and wraps around the outside of the sticks when wound.
Boy, I hope that makes sense. :)
We really liked this design as well, though we would have made a few changes. One being, the outside discs should be bigger and closer together so the rope doesn’t get outside of them when wound up. And 2, the handle to wind feels a bit flimsy. Maybe use the same handle as the other pole used.
Please leave a comment or contact me if you have any questions you would like answered. I wouldn’t mind at all. :)
We have truly enjoyed this new toy in our home. And I know you will too! :)
We are already brainstorming about the little nieces or nephews who would love one of these for Christmas.
And I hoped you enjoyed the tutorial! I would love to hear if you try it out!
Thanks for checking out my DIY Toy Fishing Pole (that reels in)…and Magnetic Fabric Fish post. Check out my full collection of DIY Sewing
articles. Find even more sewing projects, patterns, and tips for beginners and advanced sewists by Liz Call
, Mariah Leeson
, Randi Dukes
and Tauni Everett