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A desktop bamboo walking machine.
A desktop bamboo walking machine.
603 backers pledged $57,669 to help bring this project to life.

crossing the rubicon

Posted by Small Wonder Toys (Creator)

Greetings Kickstarters,

When last we spoke, our shop had just gotten off the ground and we were making more Velocipedes than at any time before. In reality, though, we still weren't making them at the pace we needed for an on-time delivery. We're extremely proud to announce that in the interim we've closed that gap, and we're now making them at a pace of 10 a day, putting us on track for a December ship date! We also managed to ship out your postcards, crankshafts, t-shirts, and Early Birds ahead of schedule!

Folks, getting there was no mean feat. Kickstarter rewards to date have had the discouraging tendency of showing up late, and the three of us are now intimately familiar with the extent to which Murphy's law haunts entrepreneurial idealism. We've got a laundry list of bracing stories to this effect; let us regale you with the best one.

When we designed the Velocipede, we aimed at using entirely standard stock sizes to minimize the processing time for each part - the majority of the toy is made up of triangles and rectangles cut from 1/4" or 1/2" bamboo plywood. Bamboo ply seems to be a relatively young industry, and we were surprised to discover that 1/4" and 3/4" were the only standard thicknesses available.

Fortunately, we figured this out well in advance of our Kickstarter and developed a labor-intensive workaround suitable for the short term. Our hardwood distributor assured us that large custom batches from their fabrication facility in China is standard practice, so following our Kickstarter success we made a multi-thousand dollar order, wisely placing all our eggs one transcontinental basket. Exactly as not planned, the panels were improperly sanded and proceeded to warp beyond repair.

Our distributor phoned us with the failure near the end of September, at which point we immediately went scrambling to find some source, ANY source, of 1/2" bamboo ply. There was talk of laminating two sheets of 1/4". There was talk of other shipments with surplus. We called every supplier we knew, and they started hunting for alternatives. In the meantime, we cut up a truck load of 3/4" ply and drove it over the Cascade mountains to Bend, Oregon where a friend with a small but effective planer helped us tediously process what we had down to 1/2".

In the week that followed, we continued to call our suppliers, and eventually one of them managed to locate an extremely unlikely but very sizable stack of 12"x72" panels just a bit thicker than 1/2" hiding in a distribution center in Auburn, Washington. That same day we happily located a woodworking plant down the road with an industrial-grade panel planer capable of shrinking all the boards in this stack in one fell swoop. We finished this round of planing a little more than three weeks ago and now have enough stock to carry us through to December.

Hiccups happen every week. Most of them aren't quite this big. But like we said, we're on track for December, and we're confident that things will continue that way until your Velocipede arrives at your door. Thanks for reading.

photos by Miranda Wakeman


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    1. Chuck Marshall on

      I can't wait to get these. My kids are going to love, possibly even as much as I will!

    2. Jan Sapper on

      Plus I have to say, I love your website!

    3. Jan Sapper on

      Keep up the good work and these kinds of stories are great (that's why i'm backing on Kickstarter), please keep them coming!