I read a short story (possible novella) in the early 80s about a boy that built some humanoid robots out of soup cans. The main detail I can remember is that near the end, the robots and boy are in a rowboat with the robot rowing. The boy tells the robot to 'wait a minute' (instead of saying stop rowing) and gets off. The robot waits one minute then rows away. Does this sound familiar to anyone? I would guess the story was published well before the time I read it.
This is a pure guess as I don't own the book and cannot find a copy anywhere, but could it be Andy Buckram's Tin Men by Carol Ryrie Brink?
Googling this finds a review of the book on Amazon:
Andy Buckram's Tin Men, written by Carol Ryrie Brink, writer of the Caddie Woodlawn series, is essentially about a young boy named Andy who invents and builds things. One day while babysitting his baby niece and amusing her with two soup cans, he hits upon the idea of building a robot, or, Tin Man from the shells of old cans. Working quickly and inventively at home, in quick succession he builds four robots that he names, Campbell, Bucket, Lily Belle and Supercan. The robots are all of different sizes and each has its own separate personality. Some run only when plugged into the wall while the others are powered by old car batteries. It is a little vague on just how the robots operate and are able to walk around, and it is mentioned only that they contain "wires and pulleys.... and gadgets of every kind". Andy soon has the robots doing all kinds of manual labor for him on his parent's farm as they become increasingly sophisticated and articulate. One night during a storm that floods the farm completely, lightning hits the shed where the robots are stored and they become magically alive, able to understand and to follow instructions and to move around by themselves. From this point in the book on it is one big adventure with Andy and his Tin Men as they battle storm and nature and survival against the odds.