My 16 month old god daughter is a “city baby”, she was born and lives in downtown Toronto. Their house is on a main street and as such they rely on public transit to get around day to day. Along the street in front of their house goes the main East / West “Streetcar” (or “Trolley” as some people call them). The streetcar stop is across from their front door and as the streetcar stops to pick up passengers it rings its bell “Ding Ding”.
As soon as she was able to speak she would say “Ding Ding” everytime the streetcar would go by... So when I was thinking of a gift to make for her, the obvious choice was a wooden streetcar push toy!
Luckily the streetcars have a simple but bright paint scheme so the toy would be easily identifiable with the minimum of details (as a good toy should be).
1 - 6ft X 3inch X 3/4 inch maple board
4 – Wooden Drawer Pulls
Step 1: The Design
I searched the Internet for images and drawings of the Toronto Streetcar. Luckily someone make a paper cut-out model that was to scale and I printed out the side view with an exact height of 3 inches to match the board. I also downloaded several other views to get the subtle curves of the front and back along with the proportions for the paint scheme. I traced 3 copies of the outline on the board and cut each one out with a Jig Saw. I then Glued & Screwed the three pieces together to form the body of the streetcar (the screws were put in just to hold the wood together as the glue dried as I wanted to start sanding right away).
Step 2: Shaping the Wood
I have to admit I should not have used hard maple because it made the sanding very difficult as I needed to take off a lot of wood to shape the streetcar. A softer wood would have been quicker to sand but the maple finishes very nicely and has a good weight to it. Using my rotary sander I smoothed out the edges and rounded the front and back of the toy. All the time referring to the downloaded images to make sure I got the shape as close as possible to the real deal.
I drilled a small hole in the front and inserted a piece of dowel for the “Headlight” this was sanded to round the edges. I removed the screws, filled the holes with wood filler and sand it smooth with 200 grit sandpaper.
Once I was happy with the shape I used the printed side view to place the wheels. As the original has its wheels underneath (as a typical train) I took some “artistic licence” and placed the wheels on the outside not only to make it easier to make but also to make the toy more stable in the hands of a 16 month old. I drilled the holes for the dowel axes and drilled center holes in the drawer pulls and dry fit everything to make sure it rolled…
Step 3: Painting
After a coat of primer, I painted the red color where it was needed: bottom half of car and stripe along the top. Once this was left to dry for a day I masked off the red area with painter tape. A coat of clear coat varnish was painted over the tape to seal the edges (if it is not done the next coat of paint will leak under the tape). Once the clear coat is dry, paint white as the next color. Repeat the previous steps masking, clear coat then black paint. At this point I used a label printer to put the “Destination” as the babies name along with the year.
To finish it off I put 4 coats of clear coat over the complete toy to protect it. I also painted the wheels grey, installed them and glued then to the dowels to complete the toy.
Step 4: The Reaction
When I gave my god daughter the toy the first thing she said was "Ding Ding!" she knew exactly what it was! I love it when a plan comes together!