Introduction: 2x4 Off-end School Bus

About: Everything I make is done with love and imperfection.

In this instructable we will make a toy school bus from 2x4 off ends. This is a very cheap toy as the only cost are the wheels and dolls.

Step 1: Materials and Tools


  • 2 pieces of 2x4 off ends at least 9" long
  • 4 wooden toy wheels - I bought 2" wheels from Lee Valley
  • Wooden dowel the same diameter as the hole in the centre of your wheels (mine was 3/8")
  • Wooden peg dolls (I ordered mine from Amazon)
  • Paint


  • Bandsaw
  • Drillpress or drill
  • Forstner bit a little bit bigger than your wooden doll peg
  • Drill bit a little bit bigger and the same size as your dowel (for me 3/8" and 1/2")

Step 2: Plan Your Cuts

As shown in the picture, draw your schoolbus sections (top and bottom) on the two pieces of 2x4. The top should fit on the bottom platform.

My bottom is 9" long and 2.5" high. The platform is 1.5" wide. The front of the bus is 1.5".

The bottom is 1" wide throughout and is 7.5" long (it fits exactly onto the platform)

Step 3: Cut

Using the bandsaw and following the guide that you drew in the previous step, cut out the top and bottom of the school bus. Make sure to cut relief cuts for all of the curves.

Also, cut 2 - 1" dowel pieces for holding the top of your bus onto the bottom and 2 - 2 1/2" dowel pieces for the wheels.

Step 4: Drill

Drill 3/8" holes in the bottom of the school bus top (photo 1) that align directly with holes that you drill into the platform of the school bus bottom. You can make sure that they align by drawing an X on the ends of the school bus top to find the centre. Measure the distance from the outside edge to the centre and mark that same distance along the midline in from both ends of the school bus bottom platform.They should all be 1/2" in from the outer edges and 1/2" deep.

With the Forstner bit, drill 3/4 inch holes spaced evenly along the platform to hold your wooden doll pegs (Photo 2)

To drill the wheel holes, make sure that you position your bit so that you will miss both the doll peg hole and the dowel hole and 1/2" from the bottom. Drill a 1/2" hole all the way through the width of the school bus bottom (photo 3).

Step 5: Sand

I used a belt sander first and finished up with hand sanding to make sure that both school bus pieces are smooth.

Step 6: Paint

Paint the school bus pieces and the wheels using acrylic paints.

Step 7: Paint Dolls

Paint your wooden peg dolls with acrylic paint. I did very basic little people, but you could get more creative.

I found this blog post about beginners tips for painting peg dolls really helpful when I wondering how to approach painting.

Step 8: Glue and Assemble

Glue the 1" wooden pegs into the bottom of the bus and the wheels onto the longer dowel pieces.

The school bus top and peg dolls are meant to be able to be taken off and on.

Now play!

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