Making wooden toys is a marvellous way to enjoy expanding your skills while practicing with smaller stock. This equates to less of a risk if things don’t turn out quite the way you first planned.
No worries, though, because the best way to learn most things is by the mistakes you make; just as the prototype always leads you to the best version of your latest model.
Make use of discarded stock that was not big enough for other projects but too good to throw out. Continue to learn and build upon the ideas spark even more ideas.
With the proper precautions, such as protective eye-wear and a full understanding of the power tools you plan to use, there is little in the way of you and your latest catalogue of creations.
Be Innovative about How You Gather Stock
To save on the expense of stock on hand, look for deals on such sources as reclaimed wood often found in the classified ads, logs or branches a neighbor may be eager to have you take off their hands or the discarded stock from a local shuttered business.
The only caution about pallet wood or other treated woods is that they may be laden with chemicals intended for their own longevity but not the best for child’s play.
A bit of wood that is rough around the edges has some treasure hidden just beneath the surface. With minimal milling, you can find great material in rough stock. Just be cautious of remnant hardware such as nails, tacks or screws. They can be trouble for your tools as wells as the kids. Next: On to the many projects you can undertake in making wooden toys.
Begin with the Basics: Wooden Blocks
At their most basic, wooden blocks enrich the lives of children by encouraging their boundless imaginations. These shapes are easy to cut and duplicate for a set of blocks. You remember all the shapes:
They tend to be cut from 2 x 4 stock and sanded or routed for smooth edges. These can be cut using a table, circular or hand saw.
From building blocks, kids can make castles and forts and entire villages. Innovation is a natural course of action when you simply look upon the basic shapes before you.
Expanding from Blocks to Shapes
From a simple rectangle, it is easy to visualize a truck with some cut-outs, drilling a couple of well-placed holes for inexpensive dowels to use as axles and adding some discs for wheels cut from larger dowel stock.
It isn’t long before you begin to see how these shapes can be further refined to depict more detail.
Planes, Trains and Fleets of Vehicles
A band or scroll saw and belt sander makes this work streamline. Cars and trucks tend to lead to trains and planes and perhaps a fleet of vehicles depicting the heavy working trucks, such as the ever-popular dump trucks and tractors.
The evolution of these ideas rests with your own interest. However, you can easily browse the internet for ideas.
The more you create, the more detail you may be compelled to depict as you build. Remember: To be innovative you needn’t reinvent the wheel. You just need to find a way to make it your own.
Elaborate on ideas that you see, and this will not only take your toys farther, but it will make yours unique by comparison.
The jigsaw is synonymous with the puzzles they are named after. Anything you can carefully scroll cut out of a board will have its mate left that fits just like a puzzle piece. This is the starting point for many wooden puzzle designs and all at the two-dimensional level.
As you progress in your line of toys, your tools may need to expand as well. For instance, a router is one of the best finishing tools for shaping and contouring. A Dremel hand tool comes with a huge array of bits that make creative crafting easier to achieve.
Expand the two dimensional cut-outs to 3-D by gluing layers together. With clever designs that account for the proper profiles of such creatures as horses, dinosaurs or dragons, you quickly recognize the ubiquitous wooden toys that are made all the time.
What is left? Only the most unique thing you have to offer: Your imagination.
With planks or boards, you have a great starting point for everything from rocking horses to doll houses. If you are armed with some hand tools and a jig, scroll or band saw, whichever you prefer, you can make thousands of attractive and fun wooden toys.
One innovative idea seen of late is a set of shelves offset with spacers, openings cut out of the solid sides for windows and an A-frame roof from boards all the same width. This dual-sided doll house provides hours of imaginative play and later can be handily repurposed into a proper set of book shelves.
There is no limit to what you can make out of wood. We won’t even get started on the tremendous selection of wooden games you can make, starting from tic-tac-toe.
Once you begin to work with the pieces and step up to working from planned and measured drawings, you soon recognize that if you can imagine it, you can make it.
About the Author
Paul is an avid woodworker and the editor in chief of a website Woodworkboss.com. Through his site, Paul aspires to help fellow woodworking enthusiasts to pursue this hobby or even turn it into a successful career, all of that by sharing informative tips and guides about woodworking.