Picture of Kid Crane Riding Toy
This Instructable is for building a kids toy crane.  I call it a toy, but it is really a heavy duty machine for a kid of any age.  I designed this crane for my son who was a crane fanatic at the time.

The crane is built mostly from wood and uses various screws, nut, bolts, caster wheels, and a variety of other parts.

I will try to give as much information as possible so you can build something similar.  Believe me that your kids are going to love this thing.  It may take some time to build, but the results are worth it.  What else are you going to do with your spare time.


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Step 1: Tools and Materials You Will Need

Picture of Tools and Materials You Will Need

This is a fairly long list of materials, but you may be able to use some parts that you already have.


  • 1 - 3/4" x 60" x 60" baltic birch plywood
  • 1 - 1/2" x 8" x 12" baltic birch plywood
  • 1 - 1/4" x 3" x 12" baltic birch plywood


  • 17 of 1/4" x 4" carriage bolts - home improvement store
  • 1 of 1/4" x 4" carriage bolts - home improvement store
  • 4 of 1/4" x 5" carriage bolts - home improvement store
  • 1 of 1/4" x 6" carriage bolts - home improvement store
  • 10 of 1/4" flat washer - home improvement store
  • 4 of 1/4" flat washer - nylon or plastic - home improvement store
  • 12 of 1/4" lock washer - home improvement store
  • 2 of 1/4" carriage bolt caps - home improvement store
  • 34 o1/4" nyloc nut - Nylon-Insert Locknut 1/4"-20 Screw Size - home improvement store or McMaster (404) 629-6500 part# 90640A129
  • 12 of 1/4" - 20 x 1-1/4" panhead straight bolt - home improvement store
  • 4 of 1/2" flat washer - home improvement store
  • 1 of 1/4" - 20 x 1-1/2" cap screw (allen wrench or slotted head) - home improvement store
  • 1 of 3/8" x 3-1/2" carriage bolt - threaded on end only - not all-thread Home Depot or other home improvement store
  • 2 of 3/8" flat washer - home improvement store
  • 1 of  3/8" nut - home improvement store
  • 1 of 3/8 nyloc nut - home improvement store
  • 1 of 1/2" x 3 foot long steel rod - home improvement store
  • 1 of 1" x 1/8" x 3 foot aluminum bar stock - home improvement store
  • 10 of 1-5/8" coarse gold #8 deck screw or regular #8 wood screw - home improvement store
  • 5 of 2" coarse gold #8 deck screw or regular #8 wood screw - home improvement store
  • 4 of 1-1/4" #6 pan head wood screws - home improvement store
  • 4 of 1-1/4" (32mm) washer head #2 square drive coarse screws (for pocket holes) - not needed if attaching the seat top by other method - home improvement store
  • 2 of 1-1/4" #8 - 32tpi machine screw (for attaching sprockets to 1/2" rod) - home improvement store
  • 3 of 2" #8 - 32tpi machine screw (for tapped holes in modified caster wheel and attaching sprocket on bike crank) - home improvement store
  • 3 of #8 nyloc nut - home improvement store
  • 1 pk of 1/4'' -20 Threaded Inserts - order 1 pack of 10 - 2 are needed Woodcraft - 800-225-1153 part#12K50 $5.99

  • 1 pk of 1/2" rare earth magnets - order 1 pack of 10 - 8 are needed Rockler Woodworking and Hardware - 1-800-279-4441 30810 $8.29
  • 1 of 1/2" copper pipe x 5-feet long - home improvement store
  • 10 feet of 1/4" nylon rope - home improvement store
  • 1 plastic hook - home improvement store
  • 1 of Steel Ball Bearing, Flanged Double Sealed For 3/8" Shaft Dia, 7/8" Od McMaster - (404) 629-6500. part# 6384K354
  • 2 of 1/2" inner diameter / 1-1/8" outer diameter roller bearing - for transfer rod McMaster - (404) 629-6500. part# 60355K46
  • 1 Miscellaneous 1/2" inner diameter shaft lock collar McMaster - (404) 629-6500. part# 6432K16
  • 1 of 18 tooth #35 sprocket with 7/8" bore diameter - for caster McMaster - (404) 629-6500. part# 6280K21
  • 2 of 10 tooth #35 sprocket with 1/2" bore diamter - for transfer rod McMaster - (404) 629-6500. part# 6280K322
  • 1 of 16 tooth #35 sprocket with 1" bore diamter - for foot crank McMaster - (404) 629-6500. part# 6280K385
  • 1 pk Miscellaneous nylon spacers - 1/4" inner diameter, 1/2" outer diamers, 3/4" long - approximately 26 needed, but come in pack of 100 McMaster - (404) 629-6500. part# 94639A505
  • 1 of 2-inch diameter smiley face superball - Local Craft Store

  • 1 ea Pedals Pyramid Barefoot Pedals, 1/2 PN# 41021 BikepartsUSA A Bicycle Inc. - (877)-727-8731 SKU: 01-117564 $9.99
  • 1 ea Bike Crank Pyramid 3-1/2 PN# 21016 crank BikepartsUSA A Bicycle Inc. - (877)-727-8731 SKU: 01-97559 $7.29
  • 1 ea Bottom Bracket Pyramid BMX, 1-pc, 24 TPI, BB set PN# 22240 - bottom bracket BikepartsUSA A Bicycle Inc. - (877)-727-8731 SKU: 01-98783 $5.99


  • 3 of 3" Casters, Non-Locking, Non-Swiveling with 4 Hole Mounting Plate Woodcraft - 800-225-1153 part# 141052 $11.50

  • 4 feet of #35 roller chain McMaster - (404) 629-6500. part# 6261K294
  • 4 of #35 chain connecting link McMaster - (404) 629-6500. part# 6261K191
  • 2 of #35 chain half connecting link McMaster - (404) 629-6500. part# 6261K261
All wood pieces were finished with wipe-on polyurethane.  It works great and makes touch-ups easy. Make sure to use multiple coats.


The tools I used on the project were as follows:
  1. Table saw - JET
  2. Band saw - GRIZZLY
  3. Oscillating spindle and belt sander - RIDGID
  4. Cordless drill - MILWAUKEE
  5. Drill press - DELTA
  6. Random orbit sander - PORTER CABLE
  7. Router - PORTER CABLE
  8. Router table.
  9. Pipe cutter for copper pipe.
  10. Hacksaw or cutoff saw
  11. Sanding block
  12. Screwdrivers and wrenches - CRAFTSMAN
Not all of the tools in this list are required, but will make the construction much easier.

Here is a link to one of the Craftsman wrenches I used.

I wish I would have had this Craftsman sander for sanding the larger wood pieces in this project.  My other sander was going out while I was finishing up the last pieces on this project.

NOTE: If you plan on using any tool for a project please make sure you are familiar with the tool and all of the dangers associated with it. If you are not familiar with a tool then you should ask someone who is to show you the proper way to use it. A lot of communities have classes at local colleges on the proper use of tools and machinery. There are also local woodworking clubs that offer classes at very reasonable rates for beginners. I highly recommend using these resources for your safety and for the most efficient use of the tool.

Always wear eye and hearing protection.
Always work safe with the proper safety equipment and guards on your tools.

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Bilegt1 month ago

I could not pass this project without making comment. It is very complex, yet beautifully done. Just WOW!

vinceheyser made it!2 months ago

Fun project. I modified the boom so it would extend as well. Very good instructions, the hardest part for me was the chain, trying to get it the right slack and adjustment. I love the magnetic clutch, brilliant.

stevemoseley (author)  vinceheyser2 months ago

Fantastic Job! Thanks for posting the pictures as well. I would love to see a video of the boom extension in action. Great idea there. It looks like a couple VERY happy kids at Christmas.

Yea I gave one to my niece so this was the only time both will be in the same room :). They are still learning the boom extension but here is a video of the overview. Two more bearings, a drawer slide, two stops, and a "lead screw".

stevemoseley (author)  vinceheyser2 months ago

Again, Fantastic Job! Thanks for posting the videos.

I was going to mention that I had to get the bike parts elsewhere because the business changed hands, some of the item numbers have changed through McMaster as well. I had a really hard time finding flat pedals and waited to the last minute on those, I ended up cutting some large ones and encasing them in wood.

RachelS46 months ago

From 1 crane lover to another...

2 thumbs up man! Great Job!!

when I was 5 I loved theese things!
I have 5 siblings, all of them younger, so this would be a great project as a present or something...
Petar923 years ago
This is great!! Wonderful idea and project...I see this kind of things in public places... Great work!!
stevemoseley (author)  Petar923 years ago
Thanks. I appreciate the comment.
(removed by author or community request)
Thanks for your comments. Some people have told me I should build one of these large enough for a full grown adult. It's tempting . . . .
stevemoseley (author) 4 years ago
A 29 page PDF plan set and materials list that you can print are now available on my web site for the Kid Crane. Some parts are to scale to use as a template.

Let me know if you have any questions.

kazlak50004 years ago
this very good instructable this very good instructable this very good instructable .......
derte844 years ago
You should write books!
jwolski4 years ago
I remember seeing these plans for sale online a few years ago. I'm glad they're free now!
jwolski jwolski4 years ago
Yep, found it!
Wonderful!!! I think youhave made a great project. I am going to send this on to my Pop who would love to build this for his grand children. My only thoughtbecause im a big mature kid is a pedal gear with some type of movement on the ground. I would say that would be off the charts. Great Great Great stuff thanks
EmmettO4 years ago
I get the impression that you've worked with plywood construction before! If not, you strike me as a machinist. What program did you use to make the plans for this?
stevemoseley (author)  EmmettO4 years ago
In answer to your questions:

I've worked with plywood a bit.

I'm a civil engineer by day and like mixing the wood and metal parts.

Autocad was used for the plans originally.
Leave it to an engineer to go this far for a toy. :)
Fantastic crane and excellent instructable.
Who had more fun, the boys with the crane or you dreaming it up and making it?
stevemoseley (author)  western4 years ago
Let's say we all had fun with this one.

Most adults have to sit down on the crane and try it out the first time they see it.
sikamikan4 years ago
wonderful instructable
torino66694 years ago
This is totally awsome!!! I'm going to have to make one for my Great Niece. She may be a girl, but she's a boy @ heart. (GRIN) I'm not an engineer, however my Dad is a retired Electrical Engineer. I say that only because of my experience in dealing with my Dad, I can see your engineering skills come through when you wrote this instructable. Very concise, informative & well written. It's just totally fantastic & will be a great help when my Dad & I build this for my Great Niece. (HUGE GRIN) Thanks for the structable & Merry Christmas
WingDings4 years ago
This is a beautiful thing, and well presented. Excellent work.
skiedra4 years ago
This is a superb instructable! Thank you for sharing and keep 'em coming :)
uNiq14 years ago
How much did this whole project cost. or how much would it cost for someone who doesn't have any tools/wood/experience? I've been looking for something to do over the summer!
stevemoseley (author)  uNiq14 years ago
I think you could build one for under $200 (US). It depends on where you get your parts and what you would need to have shipped. Most people taking on a project like this would probably have some of the parts themselves.
eligriggs4 years ago
Excellent work, thanks for sharing.

Can you take your crane a step further by building a low to the floor, two-section 'ring' to fit around the crane platform, with marked positions for geometric shapes that could receive matching building blocks? Then the child could have games that would have him moving and placing the blocks by size, colour, number, symbol or alphabet, all around his crane.

If you inset pairs of rare earth magnets in the bottoms of the blocks and the matching block places, the blocks should self align as they are lowered the last few inches. Slightly smaller, bottomless blocks, to allow for the needed top rings for the hook, could also be made for stacking, adding another dimension to the games.

You can also add a sliding, notched 'push/pull stick' to the right side, that would allow him/her to simply push the cable out, from a few inches to about a foot, so the cutouts could be staggered, making it more challenging to pick-up and place the 'building blocks'. You can allow for the pulling in of the cable a few inches as well.

By building the block ring in two sections, storage is made easy, simply place the top sides together and let a few magnets inset for this purpose, hold it together. A cutout handle should be included.

stevemoseley (author)  eligriggs4 years ago
That is a great idea.I will have to look into that after the holidays and explore that expansion of the crane. Thanks for the detailed explanation.
Cool.  What a wonderful thing to make for your son, heck, I'd find a reason to use at my age.
old_code4 years ago
It's obvious that you've taken a great deal of time to prepare this Instructable; detailed parts list (with contact numbers, too), clear photos, clear diagrams, thorough instructions.

This looks like a heck of a lot of fun too! And truly an heirloom.


handprints4 years ago
What a great piece of work! I love it.
sniffydogs4 years ago
WOW! Extremely well-made! Your grandkids could easily enjoy this some day. It would also stand up to heavy use in a day care, plus it looks very safe.
niv_pei4 years ago
this was one of my dreams as a child
rogercaplan4 years ago
that is awesome - I remember also being obsessed with cranes at some point as a child, I would have loved this...
Foxtrot704 years ago
Hey Excellent Carpentry!!! The kids will love this one; the most important accessory...have you made a wrecking ball for it? Probably a modified bowling ball would do the trick. Remember what Red Green says, " If its not broke... your not trying hard enough!" Hey just trying to help... us guys gotta stick together, no matter the age. :)
a wrecking ball would be great..but first..
psst..add a shield
looks very very professional

is it very heavy? would putting it on a mobile platform be practical?
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