Build a Toy Airplane Using Only Hand Tools.




Introduction: Build a Toy Airplane Using Only Hand Tools.

If you want to watch someone's eyes light up when you give this to them and say "I made this for you!"

Follow these instructions and make a gift he or she will remember!

This is a great way to start woodworking. Very few tools are needed and it cannot be made wrong!

I'm a woodworker and grampa. One day my daughter stopped over and her 2 yr old son came into my shop and asked what I was doing? I honestly don't remember what I was working on. He said "I make me a green airplane". I looked around and grabbed a few scraps of wood and sketched an airplane on one and used a piece of lath for the wing. My grandson was thrilled, he ran around the yard imagining he was flying! He took it to bed with him for almost a week!

I've made several after that and made improvements along the way.

Step 1: All the Materials and Tools Needed.


  1. 2.5cm x 5cm x 30 (1 " x 2" x 12") pine. I had a 60cm (2') piece of 2.5cm x 10cm (1" x 4"), this size actually worked well since I used an electric scroll saw. I was going to use a hand scroll saw but I couldn't find mine, I know I just used it 40 yrs ago.
  2. 5mm x 4cm x 20cm (1/4" x 1 1/2" x 8") pine. I used a piece of lath that was the right size only longer. That made it easy to pick a piece without any knots.
  3. Any other wood will work, but I found pine is the best, it's light, easy to cut, sand and it's cheep. I don't recommend plywood, I've used it and it doesn't weather well and can have lots of slivers.
  4. 2 nails 1" long.


  1. Scroll saw.
  2. Hammer.
  3. Pencil.
  4. Sandpaper.

Step 2: Sketch the Airplane and Cut It Out.

  1. Hand sketch the fuselage on the board, this time I had an old one nearby I just used as a model. The shape really isn't that important, as long as it has a tail and a wing you'll be alright.
  2. Cut the fuselage out, make the slot for the wing a little small so you can trim it later for a nice tight fit.
  3. Use the wing material to get the right size slot cutout. The tighter the slot the stronger the airplane.
  4. Cut the wing out, I made mine about 20cm (8") long, and tapered the ends.
  5. Test fit the wing, use a chisel to clean out the cut and adjust the slot for a tight fit.

Step 3: Sand and Assemble

  1. I wrapped my sandpaper around a piece of scrap wood, that makes it easier to hold the sandpaper and to have better control.
  2. Hold the parts on a flat surface to sand. You'll get the sanding done faster and better than if you hold the parts in your hand.
  3. Hold the parts over the edge of a workbench to round the edges.
  4. Center the wing on the fuselage.
  5. Nail the wing on. Put the nails in at opposite angles, then the wing cannot be pulled off. The first planes I made didn't have a slot to hold the wing and after a while the wing would come loose. After I started the slot to hold the wing they haven't come loose. These planes have been thrown around trying to make them fly. Being made of pine they are light and don't hurt things. They can take quite a beating!

Step 4: Now You Have to Decide If You Want to Paint or Not Paint.

The kids really don't seem to care. I always ask if they want it painted and if they say yes I get them a brush and some acrylic craft paint, they have a blast! The acrylic paint washes off hands and cloths so mom doesn't mind.

Have fun building! and watch someone's eyes light up when you give this to them and say "I made this for you!"

Hand Tools Only Contest 2016

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Hand Tools Only Contest 2016

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    4 Discussions


    4 years ago


    Kerrie Lee
    Kerrie Lee

    4 years ago

    "I was going to use a hand scroll saw but I couldn't find mine, I know I just used it 40 yrs ago." That made me laugh! Are you sure you're not my dad?

    My soon-to-be 18 y.o. son has loved planes since he was a toddler. His eyes will still light up when I give him this project. Thanks for sharing it!

    retired Ron
    retired Ron

    Reply 4 years ago

    I really enjoy building these with my grand-kids. I can see they're watching and learning, hopefully making a memory.


    4 years ago

    The kids look so happy!! I bet they love the airplanes!