Iris' Wooden Toy Circus Train




My mother-in-law (Iris) loves making things out of wood. She doesn't like to use nails or pins or metal of ANY kind which makes her toys quite unique and cherished. So, I have convinced her to let me put one of her projects here on Instructables. I hope the pictures speak for themselves as I will only be writing a short bit on each step. Please feel free to ask any questions and I will relay them to her so that she can answer them for you. I hope you enjoy this instructable as much as I did watching her make it.

Step 1: Get Your Patterns Here

Print out or draw appropriate animal patterns to your liking and trace them onto a piece of wood. By the way, ALL of the wood used for this awesome toy came from scraps and leftovers found or donated by people in our area. Just ask around !! Oh, and try not to pay too much attention to the puzzle looking piece as she became unsatisfied with the results and scrapped the idea later in the project. I left it in just in case it sparked an idea for you.

Step 2: Cut Out the Animals

To cut out the animals a scroll saw was used. As usual, be careful when using saws and power equipment. Due to the fact that the puzzle connectors were rigid and didn't allow for the train cars to turn properly, Iris eventually changed the design to work better.

Step 3: Dremel and a Lotta Time

When the initial cuts were done, she trimmed off a little extra wood where the animal's head and neck were going to be with the scroll saw. After the basic cuts were made, she took a Dremel with a cutting blade on the end and started shaping on the wood. This seemed to be the hardest and most time-consuming step in the entire process. She makes it look easy, but I bet a little talent is needed here. ;) However, as you can see from the finished pictures it is well worth it to take your time and pay attention to the details. Shape the wood into the animal as best you can. Use a barrel sander on the dremel to do any fine shaping. After sanding down the lion she took a whittling/carving blade and textured the mane and tail with some sharper and deeper cuts to give them more realism.

Step 4: Create the Train Cars

Using only a 1x4 she ripped it down to 6.5"x2" and cut the rounded ends to allow for the train to turn properly. As you can see from the photos, a handy roll of tape served as the template for the rounded ends. A notch was taken out of the ends to allow the cars to mesh together seamlessly. Holes and dowels in the ends allow for easy hooking/rearranging of the cars.

Step 5: Base Coat of Paint for All Parts

Painted all parts with a white primer so the colors would come out better. Wheels were cut with a hole-saw and a dowel serves as the axle. The locomotive was simply a 2x4 that was cut down with the scroll saw and shaped with the Dremel. (I forgot to take pictures of that process. Sorry) As you can see, the train is really shaping up now!

Step 6: Painting

Apply paint to the parts and allow to dry. Add any details (eyes, manes, spots, etc.) to the dried products and allow to dry some more. After drying the animals were glued in place with Gorilla Glue. Here are several shots of the finished and drying parts and a few of them completed. I hope you Enjoyed this Instructable. Please leave a comment and let us know what you think and any suggestions are always appreciated. Have a great day and don't forget to VOTE for this Instructable!!!

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    6 Discussions


    7 years ago on Step 3

    I like this!!! Nice design that will entertain and be a collectable!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    These are FANTASTIC...... I raise my hat to Iris she is a very tallented lady..I love real wooden toys..... Oh by the way well done on a well written 'ible'.... Iris keep up the GREAT work... Phil...