Introduction: Wood Toy Camera

About: My Grandpa got me into wood working when I was five years old. Ever since then I have been hooked. I love creating something out of nothing, making something old new or using trash to make something beautiful.…

I have two beautiful nieces that I love very much. At the moment they are 1 and 3 years old. That is such a fun time for Christmas presents. For one, the three year old is so excited to open all of her gifts no matter what it is. She is at that age where she gets super excited about everything. Also, she is still young enough to enjoy homemade presents so I am going to take advantage of that.

Unfortunately there will come a time when homemade toys will become less desirable then the cheap plastic ones. I get it, these are not as flashy or loud and as you get older, the stimulation you get from these kinds of toys is important.

But luckily for me they are still young enough where any toy is fun. So I wanted to make something that they could use their imagination to play with. Something that would out last those cheap plastic toys. My sister is a photographer and I thought it would be really cool to make a camera so my niece could take pictures with her mommy.

Although I know there will be a time when this will go into the toy box or attic and not be seen for years, when it comes out again hopefully it will look the same, work the same and be more loved than it was in the beginning.

So here it is, my wood toy camera. I hope you enjoy this instructable and give it a try. After all, the very best gifts come from the shop... I mean heart... Same thing.

Step 1: What You Need

All of these tools mentioned are the one that I used. The project is totally doable without them, just not as easy. Tools and materials are as follows.

A scrap of maple and walnut

3/8 oak dowel

1/2 oak dowel

Small spring

Drill press

Bench sander


Scroll saw

Step 2: The Wood

I had some scrap walnut and maple laying around for this camera. Both pieces were around 7 inches long and 4 inches wide. I cut the maple down to 3.5 inches and ran both ends through the joiner.

Then I took the walnut and cut two strips about an inch wide and ran those through the joiner as well. I dry fit them to make sure that the sides were flush and then moved on to the shutter button.

Step 3: The Shutter Button

I wanted the shutter button able to move up and down to simulate taking a picture. First I took the 1/2 and the 3/8 dowels, cut them to around 4 inches and glued them together. The final button did not need to be this long but I wanted to make sure that I had enough.

While the dowels were drying, I drilled the holes in the body of the camera. I use a 1/2 fostner bit to drill a hole 2 inches into the maple. I made sure that I reamed it out a bit so the 1/2 dowel would have room to move.

The in the top walnut piece I drilled the 3/8 hole using the same steps. The thought behind this was the larger dowel would be in the bottom and not to able to pass through the smaller top hole. I hope that is a good enough explanation.

I slipped the spring in and cut the bottom dowel so there was a small amount of pressure on the spring when I was flush with the maple. Then it was time for the glue up. I put the walnut and maple together with wood glue and clamps. While the glue was drying, I made sure that the shutter button was still able to move at all times. I didn't want the glue to seep in and freeze up the button.

I had to do the glueing inside because it was -12 out while I was making this and my shop only has a wood stove that doesn't run all the time.

Step 4: Smooth It Out

Now that I had everything glued up, I ran it over the joiner to get everything nice and smooth. I could have ran the individual pieces through the planer first but I wanted to make sure that the seems were perfect. Running the whole thing through afterwards was definitely the right decision.

Step 5: The Lens and Peep Hole

I really didn't know what I was going to do for the lens until the last minute. I had some walnut circles cut out and I was going to texture and layer them but something didn't look quite right. So I ran out to the shed and grabbed a piece of fire wood.

I have no idea what type of wood this is but it looks pretty cool. It is from a tree that went down years ago that I cut up and threw in the shed for fire wood. The only problem is that it is a bear to split so I only use it when I can throw a hole log on the fire. I have used it for a few projects so I thought I would give it a go.

I cut a small section and sanded the face on the belt sander. Right away I knew I had found the lens. The log was a little wide so I had to sand the edges down a bit to get the right proportions. I hit it with some 120 sand paper and it looked beautiful. I glued it on and moved on to the next.

I wanted a small peep hole for my niece to look through. First I used a 1/2 fostner bit and drilled half way through the body. Then I went down to a 3/8 and finished going all the way through. The two sizes of holes really doesn't make a difference but it does look cool.

Step 6: The Grip and the Spinner Thingy

The body seemed to be missing something so I decide to put a grip on one side. I cut a piece of walnut and shaped it on the bench sander. Not sure why I didn't take a pic... Sorry. Sometime I get really excited about the project and forget to show all the steps.

Next is what I lovingly refer to as the spinner thingy. You know the thingy I'm talking about. On older cameras it was used to wind the film and in newer ones it could be the zoom or something... Use your imagination. Anyway, I used a small piece of maple.

First I marked the center, then the circle and then the teeth. I cut it out with the scroll saw and for the teeth I held it up to my bench sander for just a moment and carved out the little indents.

Now when I drilled the hole it was not exactly in the center. I told everyone that this gives it a fun and whimsical feeling but the truth is, it was an accident. But it really does make it fun. I have quite a few accidents like this and usually it comes out pretty cool.

The lesson is, never be afraid to make a mistake. It might just make your project better.

Step 7: The Neck Strap

I found one of my wife's belts that was super perfect for the neck strap. She said I could have it because she is awesome!! I cut the ends off and cut a small hole with my knife.

Then I had to drill into the side of the camera body to place a pegs. I had some 1 inch wood pegs left over from the xylophone that I made for my other niece ( I'll share that one next) I glued the pegs and the belt slips right over the peg.

Warning! When I drilled out the side with the shutter button, I drilled too far. I drilled into the dowel and the button would no longer move. I corrected it but cutting the pegs so it wouldn't go in as far and made sure the button was functional before I glued.

Step 8: The Finish

I used linseed oil to finish the camera. It really brings out the grain and makes it look great. I had a lot of fun with this toy. I tend to obsess about projects until I start them. I sit in bed and think about all of the different ways that I can do it. With this one I really enjoyed going over all of the little details.

I think thats because I was making it for someone I love very dearly. I hope this will be something that she can have a lot of fun with. It isn't going to be her flashiest toy but hopefully she know that it was made just for her by her uncle Andy.

I hope that you enjoyed this and thank you so much for reading. I would love to hear any comment or answer any questions. Thanks again


Wooden Toys Challenge 2016

Participated in the
Wooden Toys Challenge 2016

Homemade Gifts Contest 2016

Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2016