Most kids and parents love wooden retro toys. They give warm and natural feeling, they are more durable than the other mechanical toys, they are useful for training the child's motoring skills and imagination, they offer the
best ratio of value for money...
I can continue this list for quite long. No doubt it's a good idea to buy wooden toys for your children.
But why not make those toys yourself?
"Isn't that too hard?!"
Hard? I wouldn't call it this way. A bit challenging, yes. And also very exciting, rewarding and loads of fun. I'm sure you are already prepared to learn about making wooden toys yourself, aren't you?
So, Why Make Wooden Toys
Making wooden toys yourself is obviously a nice recreational activity - the satisfaction to see your finished toy and that your children like it is indeed great. (Saying that, I'm assuming you will hide the toys from your first 1-2 tries unless you really have skillful hands).
Making your toys yourself is also the only sure way to know what's inside them and that no risky treatments or paints are used. You can be also sure in the wood quality if you buy wood from the store - although it's a very good idea to
recycle wood from old furniture
like old chairs, tables, stools and so on.
Think about involving your kids in the process if they are over 6-7 years old. Learning woodworking is great for children and most of them seem to love it. Of course make sure that safety measures are in place.
What kind of wooden retro toys you can make? Any kind, as long as you know how to make them - the simplest ones can be done by just looking at a picture or using your imagination, but for any more advance toys you'd better get plans or patterns.
Wooden Toy Plans
Making toys by using professionally designed and lined plans almost guarantees that your toy will be successful. I'm saying "almost" because some people get plans, have a quick look at them and then do the things on their own. If you are not one of those people and read carefully the instructions, and follow them, you'll make good toy - it's not that hard.
You can find thousand of websites selling wooden toy plans online - most of them will cost between $10 and $20 but some can be found even for free (usually in PDF format). Getting downloadable plans is good idea (either free or not) because they are delivered quickly - usually instant - rather than waiting a week for plans on paper. On the other hand if you want to make big toys (like ride-ons for example) you may prefer paper plans if they are printed in real size.
The variety of wooden toy plans is so huge that
you can spend days just browsing and wondering
which one to buy and which toy to make. To avoid that I recommend you just pick one simple toy as a beginning and start working. After the first toy is handcrafted successfully you and your kids will have much better idea what kind of toys you want to make further.
This lovely airplane is also a DIY project
Photo by Squiggle
Tools, Materials and All...
The most important thing for making wooden toys - except skillful hands - is of course wood. Different kinds of wood can be used, but it's important to use real wood and not some composite material like plywood. For the majority of toys the most appropriate material is
hardwood as maple and ash
without cracks and knots.
The tools are fairly important as well - you can make toys with just a knife but that's going to take a lot of time and the result is unlikely to be good. It's better to equip yourself with a good drill, sander and a router, small hammer and of course at least one saw and a file.
Take the most important woodworking safety measures and you are ready to start.
Wooden Toy Books
If you need more than this short article to get started, don't worry, I will take care for you. First, check out this great list of resources about making wooden toys. There are also a couple of books woth looking at:
- Making Heirloom Toys - a paper book from Amazon
- Fun to Make Wooden Toys & Games - a paper book with 12 projects from Amazon
- Fun Wooden Toys - an e-book you can download straight away.
That's it for now from me.
What about you - are you ready to start making toys?