Guide to Making Wooden ToysDespite the massive influx of modern technology that is rejuvenating the toys and entertainment industry, there is still a strong appeal for wooden toys. Manufacturers continue to make them, and toy suppliers continue to stock them as parents go out in search of the best simple and classic wooden toys on the market.

Wooden toys for kids have been around since the Stone Age, according to historians, and have been manufactured commercially since the Middle Ages in small shops. They’ve been the play thing of choice for societies across the world, catering to the artisanal appreciation of everyone from the families of the proletariat, to the children of aristocracy. There’s still a nostalgic charm about wooden toys which remains steadfast to this day.

Such is the love of the craft that increasing numbers of people are inquiring about how to make children’s wooden toys themselves. Whether it be for a commercial endeavour, personal use, or just personal pride, making wooden toys should always be a comfortable, enjoyable and fulfilling process for those of all woodworking abilities. But everybody has to start somewhere, so we’ll endeavour to give you some valuable titbits to help guide your journey.

Why Wooden Toys Are Great

Let’s start off by talking about why wooden toys are great: besides the fact that they just are, there are empirical benefits with wooden toys for kids that are sometimes underappreciated. Knowing these benefits could potentially influence what, why and how you make your wooden toys:

Firstly, wooden toys are notoriously durable – which is why they’ve managed to stand the test of time so well. There are many high-quality materials that go into the making of wooden toys for kids, including the wood, the finish, the paint and even the construction of the wooden toy. Consequently, wooden toys that have been built for previous generations, are often passed down to latter generations in great nick.

As well as being durable, few toys are as safe as wooden toys. Wooden toys are crafted to be as delicate as possible, removing the risk of young children either injuring themselves on sharp edges and surfaces, or swallowing small bits of dislodged material.

Wooden toys are also very basic constructions that offer imaginative play, so it makes them great for the development of young children. For decades, children’s wooden toys have bridged the gap between entertainment and fun: toys such as pretend play sets, wooden blocks and wooden play vehicles have helped children to improve their nascent problem-solving, creativity and fine and gross motor skills.

Finally, and very importantly, wooden toys are very eco-friendly, thanks mainly to its durable yet biodegradable material. Typically, with other kinds of toys, they’re not fashioned from recyclable material and require many dangerous procedures and chemicals to create. Wooden toys, with their sheer simplicity, take away all of the harmfulness of modern toy production which makes it so much more suitable for even hobbyists try to make.

Get Wood

I know you’re probably thinking that the type of wood doesn’t really matter. The reality is that different types of wood offer different qualities. It’s best to know what you’re going to be producing first before searching for would. Then in your search get as much information on the wood as possible: how sturdy/pliable is it? How absorbent is it? What type of grain does it possess? The reason for this is, not only to ease the process of construction, but also to find the most suitable for various components – such as wheels and axels – on more complex wooden toys.

Hardwoods such as maple and oak offer exceptional durability. They are the wood of choice generally for toys that require moving parts, such is there resilience to damage. Maple is really good for detailed pieces because of its finer grain. Birch too offers a high shock tolerance making it very difficult to destroy as it doesn’t warp or split; whilst the absorption properties that are familiar in poplar make it especially easy to decorate. Poplar is also ideal for wooden toys that require some kind of chassis or inner structure.

Beyond the aforementioned, woods such as basswood, beech, and pine are also frequently used to build wooden toys for kids.

…And Tools

Obviously, this is an absolute necessity in the modelling of anything. Depending on the type of wooden toy, and the complexity of it, will determine the types of tools you will need in order to complete the task. But there are some base tools that should be in the toolbox of anybody making wooden toys for kids:

  • Workbench: You don’t need a specialist one with all of the shelves, draws and gadgets – but you do need a sturdy table that can withstand a lot of hammering and sawing.
  • Pencil: To help make accurate markings for cuts on your wood.
  • Saws: there are many blades to choose from to produce specific types of cuts, but access to a hand-held or a circular and a band saw is always handy.
  • File or sandpaper: This will help to eliminate those rough or jagged edges for a smooth mould.

Things to Consider

Before beginning work on your desired wooden toy design, recognise your limitations. This means being aware of both what you know and what you are capable of doing. If the wooden toy you plan on constructing is complicated but it’s your first time, you may want to reconsider your design. Making wooden toys for kids is all about enjoying what you are doing so that you can produce the most expressive wooden toys for kids you can think up. Doing something that you feel you are incapable of completing is the quickest way to be discouraged from reaching this goal.

It’s best to take time your time to ensure that the quality of your work is of the highest calibre. From time to time, take a few minutes away to relax and recuperate. Making wooden toys is all about maintaining your enthusiasm for the task throughout the project. If you rush or you begin to lose interest, this is when the quality diminishes – soon, you have a toy that is unsafe and isn’t working as well as it should be.

Finally, practice the appropriate safety precautions throughout the process. This is vitally important as you will potentially be working with toxic paints, flammable materials and powerful tools. Work out of a well-ventilated area, make sure that the brands you are using are reputable and take your time with power tools. It’s very easy to become distracted and injure yourself, or so invested in the project that you inhale damaging fumes. Always put your personal safety at the forefront of your thinking.