What joints should I use in my bear?
There are two basic types of joints: plastic and hardboard. Hardboard
joints have traditionally been used since the early 1900s. Plastic
joints have been used in more recent times. In the past, plastic joints
have been of poor quality and have not given a good, tight joint in
a bear. In the past 10 years there has been a marked improvement in
the quality of plastic joints and they can be used in almost any bear.
Hardboard joints are a pressed paper disc cut into sizes from 1/4
to 4 or more. They are secured in place by cotterkeys, tap bolts,
nuts & bolts or hex bolts. Cotterkeys are inexpensive and easy
to use if you have a cotterkey turning tool. Tap bolts are more complicated
and need more tools to secure them in place. Nuts & bolts are
another good option, but are not good for a head joint unless you
leave a space in the head seam to joint through or glue the bolt in
place. Hex bolts eliminate that problem by being held with an Allen
key and tightened on the same side of the bear.
Generally, I would use hardboard joints in a mohair or collector bear
and plastic joints in a synthetic bear or a bear intended for a child
that may need to be washed.
If you are making bears for the collector market, use the market standard
hardboard joints, if you are making bears for your own and
your family & friends enjoyment, use the joint you like
best. Bears are supposed to be FUN and you wont make bears if
you are struggling with joints.
I would also point out that plastic joints in a real fur bear are
not a good idea. They simply dont work well in real fur bears.
I would suggest a hardboard joint with a hex bolt.
What size of joints does a 12 bear take?
This really depends on the size of the bears limbs. A 21
bear with skinny limbs may take a 1 joint, as will a smaller
bear with wider limbs.
A good general rule to figure out what size of joint is best for a
bear is to measure across the bears hip or shoulder and take
off 1/2 on each side. This takes off the 1/4 seam (on
each side) and an additional 1/4 (on each side) so the bear
will have a nice round limb.