I have my woods students create wooden toys as an introduction to working with various machines around the shop. In the wooden toy lesson, students learn to use the Bandsaw, the Drill press, Router table, and the small 1" belt sander.
They end up with a heirloom toy that will last forever if taken care of.
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Step 1: Assemble Your Materials
These are the tools and materials that we use to create our toy:
- Bandsaw, for cutting out template and toy.
- Drill press for drilling axle holes.
- Drill bits, You will size it in a a future step.
- 1" belt sander for sanding the toy.
- Router table with 1/4" round over bit.
- SAFETY GOGGLES!!
Step 2: Find a Photo.
On the internet, find a photo of an animal that you would like to make a toy of.
Here are some helpful hints.
- Find an animal that is easily recognized from the side view.
- I choose to do a badger, which ended up being a little more work. But giraffe, bunny, or even a fish makes a good profile image.
- Pick an image of your animal that is from the side. Images from the front or at an angle make it very hard.
Step 3: Print Your Image.
I must have lost my image for the badger, but you can see process on the Giraffe just fine.
A simple word processing program will work pretty well for this next step.
- Import your image into your word processing program.
- Then resize it for about the size you want your final toy to be. Remember it is a toy and It should fit well in a child's hand. So do not make it too small or too big.
Once you have the printed image it is a good Idea to "Cartoonize" the image so that it looks more like a toy. For this you will need to:
- Exaggerate the features of the animal to make it more cartoon like and easier to cut out.
- Now is a good time to think about the final product.
- What will be painted?
- If it has a tail, will it be part of the toy or added on later? Like a Leather strap or piece of rope.
- Will ears, horns, and flippers be part of the block of wood or added before you paint it?
- Now is a good time to think about the final product.
- Do not forget to combine the legs and think about where your wheels will be placed.
- If you check the badger example you will see how I combined the legs and placed a mark for the axels of the wheels.
- For the Badger, I will use 1-1/4" wheels.
Step 4: Create Your Template.
Once you have your template cut out of your paper.
Trace it onto the 1/8" plywood or MDF. This will be a much sturdier template that wont rip or move. when you trace your toy. It also is a lot easier to make multiples with a sturdy temple
Cut it out using your band saw.
Here a couple videos on bandsaw safety and use:
Step 5: Cutting Out Your Toy
1. Trace your template onto your stock.I use scrap 2x6 for my toys.
Trace as close to the edge of the stock as possible. The less you have to cut the better. Shared edges are your friend. DON'T CUT OUT OF THE MIDDLE OF THE WOOD.
2. Once your template has been traced onto the 2x stock. Cut it out on your band saw.
3. Once you have your toy cut out:
- Use the paper template where you have marked your axle to mark them on your cut out toy blank.
- Use a pencil to poke through the paper image and leave a mark it on your toy blank.
- Make sure the marks on your toy blank are visible.
Step 6: Drilling the Axle Holes.
1. Use your axle to find an appropriate drill bit size.
2. Then find the appropriate drill bit.
3. Use a punch or something similar to make a dent in your blank. This will help it so that the drill doesn't walk.
4. Place a scrap piece of wood under your toy and above the drill press table. This will keep your toy from tipping and binding to the drill bit. If it does it will spin out of control and possibly fly at you face.
5. Drill your axle holes through your toy blank.
Step 7: Router the Edges
Round over the edges so that the toy will be smoother and better fit into the hand of the child.
1. Place the round over bit into the router table and make sure the edge of the bit is level or slightly lower than the edge of the table.
2. Test the router bit on a scrap piece of wood first. Adjust the height of the bit as necessary.
3. Router the entire outside of your animal. If there are places that are too small to get the router bit into you will need to sand these by hand.
Step 8: Sanding Your Animal.
"Sanding is just getting the tool marks out from the previous tool."
1. Sand all of your tool marks out.
2. Sand all of your sanding marks out. Work your way up through the sand paper starting at 150 and going to at least 220.
3. before moving on make sure that all of tool marks and imperfections are dealt with.
Step 9: Paint Your Toy.
This is where you have the most creative license with your toy.
You can paint it with as much or as little detail as you want.
Step 10: Glue in Your Axles and Attach Your Wheels
1. Check to make sure your axle fit snugly into the axle hole. If you need to drill them out again now is the time.
2. Place a small amount of wood glue in the axel hole.
PRO TIP: Put the glue in the axle hole!! Not on the axle. You want your wheel to spin!!
3. Put the axle through the wheel
4. Put the axle and wheel assembly into the glued hole.
5. Make sure to leave some room and play so that the wheel will spin.
6. Repeat for all 4 wheels.
Step 11: You Did It.
Now play with your toy while enjoying the badger song!
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