Big Yard Snake part 3

Not too long after I wrote the last piece in this series, I was working my way  through the steps described and hit upon a simple way to speed the process up a bit. I cut and drilled all of the wedges in the project, and then cannibalized the “V” block used for drilling into a small stand I could use to hold the pieces as I cut them on the bandsaw. That allowed me to use the inner walls of the wedge shapes as a reference surface to cut the outside faces at the angles needed to get that extra taper at the edge.

Cutting the extra taperI still sanded them on the disc a bit after cutting them, but overall it took much less time, gave me more consistent results (though I still judged all the angles by eye), and created much less fine dust. A win, any way you want to look at it, and it also took a lot of the tedium out of the work. It gave me such good results, I went back and fine tuned a few of the older ones I’d done the old way, and working on it an hour here, an hour there, when I had the time, I got the body of the snake strung together in about a week.

Coiled snakeDraped snake

It’s not perfect, but I must say I’m pretty pleased with it. I can coil it two full turns, and for the most part it curves fairly smoothly in both directions along its length. I wouldn’t mind if it had a wee bit more range of motion, but truly, as a proof-of-concept project, I think it succeeds very well. That means it’s time to turn my attention to the head.

For the body of the snake, I was able to get away with just hiding the large crack that runs the length of the log, by making it the snake’s belly. That’s not going to be possible with the head.Log showing splitI plan to have the head with an open mouth, and no matter how I orient the crack, it either looks lousy, or will be much too weak, or both. So, I just gave up dealing with it and split the head segment the rest of the way with a maul.Split log and maul It was a nice clean split, right through the middle, leaving me with almost identical halves. A couple of passes through the joiner, and I had two nice, flat surfaces to work with.

Flat surfacesAfter some time spent looking at snake heads on Google images, I roughed out the general shape I wanted on both halves and cut them out on the bandsaw.

Two head blanks Roughed out head

Then I glued the two pieces back together at the back end.

Glued-up head

I smoothed and rounded the head a bit on the disc sander, and then used two 1/2” button plugs for eyes.

Finished head

All that was left was to drill through the back of the head, thread the rope through, and attach the head to the body. I tied it off inside the mouth and cut the rope off as close to the knot as I could. At this point my snake is mechanically done! So I took him (I don’t know why I think of the snake as a “him” instead of a “her,” but I do) out into the front yard for a short photo shoot.

Unpainted snakeUnpainted snake

I have to say I am quite happy with the overall effect. He doesn’t have the flexibility of a real snake, but he is realistic enough for my satisfaction. I think I got the tapers about right, so he looks fairly snake-like in his proportions. I do need to taper the end of the last vertebrae just a bit so it matches with the head better, but other than that I think all he really needs is a bit of paint. That will be the subject of the next, and last, blog on the snake, coming up next. Hopefully very soon.

Thanks for following along this far. Take care.

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  • Paperkingdoms

    Very snake-like indeed!

    • Roy

       Thanks, I’m wondering if it might work as a ground hog/rabbit deterrent in my garden, though my bet is that any effect it has will be short lived when they see it doesn’t move.

  • Smarriveurr

    Brilliant. Loving the progression on this. The articulation is impressive!