I made this old fashioned toy for my cousin’s baby girl. Young children are fascinated by flipping it over as it changes from a bunny to a bear and visa versa. It is essentially a chunk of 2 x 4, shaped with common garage tools, and sanded velvety smooth. It took me a week to make but you could do it faster with power tools like a band saw. You can paint it any color if you like, just make sure to use only safe, non-toxic paint as babies will inevitably put it in their mouths. I decided to make mine 100% organic by using an inexpensive wood burning tool to draw on the details. I finished it off by melting a bit of beeswax and rubbing it on with a cotton cloth. This is easy and makes a great gift! Just make sure you get it to the child before someone gives them an iPad!
I got the inspiration from one I saw in a handmade wooden toy shop in Mountain View Arkansas. The lady there said it is an authentic vintage design from many years ago.
Step 1: Tools You Need:
Step 2: Getting Started
Choose a piece of wood. I used an 8 inch long piece of 2 x 4 in pine. Pine is soft and therefore easy to work with. Do not use anything shorter than 7 inches. Print and cut out the design I made for you. Lay it on the board. Position it so as to avoid cracks, hard knots or other blemishes. Trace around it with a pencil. Now flip it over and try to position it exactly as you did before to match the opposite side. With a ruler measure up from the bottom to make sure the feet and ears are the same distance from the top and bottom on both sides. This is important so make sure it is right!
Step 3: Sawing, Rasping, and Filing
Sandwich it in the vise horizontally between two pieces of Masonite to protect the Bunnybear from dents. Make shallow cuts with the miter saw leaving room for error and splintering. You can rasp the excess later. Keep an eye on the other side to make sure you are not getting off track. Try not to hit the vise with your saw as this could damage the teeth. Okay, start rasping. Rasp towards the center of the wood, not away. This causes splintering. Use the wood files to get closer to the pencil lines.
Step 4: Sawing the Extra Off the Top and Bottom
When you have finished shaping both sides and it looks like the picture, take it out of the vise and draw a straight line across the top and bottom on both sides. Connect them so they are continuous, like a circle around the top and bottom. Again, leave room for error since you will be cutting this off by hand. Now take the miter saw and cut the top and bottom excesses off. Skip this step if your piece is already only 7 inches long.
Step 5: Sawing Out the Larger Spaces
Make some cuts to form the space between the bear's ears (or the bunny's feet). Refer to the next picture to see that I made two v's between the ears.
Step 6: More Rasping and Filing!
Rasp and file the excess down to the pencil lines. Again, keep checking the other side to see if you are getting too close. But remember, it doesn't have to be perfect. It's handmade, and people appreciate that. It's okay if it looks like it was roughly hewn by a human. And you can sand out small imperfections later. That's the cool thing about working with wood.
Step 7: Doing the Same Thing
Now, cut out the space between the bunny's ears. Saw off the excess on the sides of the bunny's ears. Rasp and file some more. If you want yours to stand upright like mine does, don't make the ears/legs too rounded.
Step 8: Sanding! Woohoo!
And now for the fun part. Begin sanding. Start with a slightly course sandpaper and gradually move to finer ones. At some point, you might want to take a pocketknife and shave off the edges to make them more rounded. Please take care not to let the knife slip and stab yourself in the leg. This did not happen to me, thankfully, but someone told me they did that while they were sitting and carving a spoon.
Step 9: Drawing!
Okay, when you are satisfied that it is smooth, draw the bunny and bear face, arms, ears, details etc. Paint them, Sharpie them or burn them with a wood burner like I did. You can personalize it however you want, my sister said mine looks like the bunny from “The Secret Life Of Pets” called “Snowball”.
Step 10: Finishing Touches!
Take a sanding block (a piece of sandpaper attached to a block of wood) and run the ears/legs across it to flatten them so they will help the Bunnybear stand upright, like on a shelf.
And finally, rub melted beeswax all over it with a soft cotton cloth. This is optional, but it turns it a nice honey color, and it helps repel baby drool, 'cause like I said before, this will inevitably end up in the mouth. Boiled linseed oil works well too.
And voila! A Bunnybear!