If you love playing with your food, or like the idea of combinding food with toys, this is a pretty cool project to make. You can make it in pretty much any shape you want. We chose an owl because it's cute and has the general shape we wanted. You can make other animals like fish, pigs, rabbits, pikachus, etc; objects like cars, castles, other food; or beasties that only you could possibly imagine.
My wife found a company called Nova Naturals that has lots of incredibly cool children's toys. One of the products they carry is called a "breakfast board". According to their description it's a common practice in Germany for children to eat their breakfast on shaped boards instead of a "typical" plate. As a new parent and a DIYer I of course looked at it and thought, "We could make that". So we did. We decided to make all of the gifts we gave our son this past Christmas and this was one of them. You can make them for your own kids or give them as gifts to children you know.
I have tried to document this project with plenty of progress shots, but I don't have shots of me doing any of the steps. Sorry, I don't have three arms like Zaphod Beeblebrox.
Step 1: Supplies
You will need:
-Paper (For sketching designs. You can skip this and just draw right on the wood but I prefer to prepare ahead of time.)
-Pencil (Also for sketching, and for drawing your design on the board.)
-Wood, preferrably in board form (I really have no idea what kind of wood I used, but you want to make sure it's not treated with any chemicals. Remember, your child or possibly you will be eating off of this and you don't want any gross things leaching into your food.)
-Band saw (This isn't strictly necessary, but it makes things go a LOT faster.)
-Coping saw (For getting in all of the nooks and crannies.)
-Wood rasp and files
-Wood burner (I guess this one isn't strictly necessary either, but it's the way we did it.)
-Food safe wood sealer
If you get to the end of this instructable and think you could do it better with different tools, feel free. This is how I did it, but I am in no way a professional so do it with whatever tools you're comfortable.
Step 2: Roughing It Out
After you decide what shape you want, transfer it to the board. You can do this by tracing a pattern or just getting an idea of what you want and drawing it on the board. Use a pencil so you can erase it if you mess up.
Once you have your shape on the board cut it out with your band saw or whatever method you choose. If you have lots of angles or corners just get close and you can finish the rest with the coping saw. Get as close as you can though, because the band saw is a lot quicker and easier.
I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking about safety in this 'ible. It is very important and I trust that you agree with that before setting out to do this project. As I said before, use tools that you're comfortable using. If you've never used a band saw before and you're maybe using someone else's (which is what I did because I don't own one) make sure they help you understand how to use it without hurting yourself. Also, always remember to wear the appropriate safety equipment, in this case safety glasses.
Step 3: Refining Your Shape
This is the most labor intensive step. The first thing I did was to finish out the shape with the coping saw. A clamp might be helpful, but I got by without one. Be careful of how much pressure you put on the wood while you're sawing. I was trying to make another toy out of this same wood, cutting it with the same saw, and the wood snapped in half. I think it was a combination of sticking off the table too far and bearing down too hard with the saw.
After you've cut it out use your wood rasp, files, and sand paper (in that order) to smooth out the wood. I happened to have a small triangular and small slightly oval file that have nice rounded edges and worked well for getting into the corners at the neck and ears without setting deep grooves into them.
Whenever you're tempted to just skip to the next step and let it be a little rough remember that your child might be chewing on this. You don't want them to get splinters in their mouth.
Step 4: Drawing Your Design
If you plan on burning a design into it go ahead and sketch the design onto it now. Can't draw adorable woodland creatures? That's okay, find someone who can. My wife not only drew the initial outline of the owl, but she filled it in when we got to this step. It looks much more adorable than anything I could've drawn.
Trace the lines with the wood burner.
It's a pretty simple step.
We left one side blank to be the "eating side".
1. Make sure you follow the directions on the wood burner package! Also, don't burn yourself.
2. Do this somewhere open, because this can smell pretty potent. Outside is best. Also, keep in mind that you're burning wood and that can cause smoke. If you're around a smoke detector it could go off.
Step 5: Finishing and Optional Design Choices
Once you've finished burning the design, wash your board really good and let it dry.
We finished ours by rubbing a product into the wood made from beeswax and some sort of natural oil. It's actually made by Burt's Bees and not originally intended for this application, but we did a lot of research into natural wood finishes and they seemed to be made of the same ingredients and we had this on hand. There are a lot of good options when it comes to finishes, just remember that it needs to be food safe. Some options, like beeswax, may need to be reapplied every so often.
Using a finish isn't strictly necessary, but it will help the board last longer.
There are still plenty of options that you could spring for when you make your breakfast board. You could stain it. You could paint it. You could carve into it. You could drill a hole in one end and fasten a cord to carry it. You could give it handles. You could make little wooden utensils to go with it. Of course, most of those things you would need to do before you put the finish on, but I just figured I would throw out some ideas to take it a little further than we did.