Wooden Toy Dinosaurs




My son and I built a wooden T-Rex at one of the free workshops they have for kids at Lowes.  They have them at Home Depot also and if you've never taken your kids, its a great way to get them started on building things.

He loved playing with the T-Rex so much that I decided I would build him some friends to play with.  He requested a stegosaurus, triceratops (my personal favorite dinosaur) and a pterodactyl (which I haven't fully figured out how to do yet).  I built the stegosaurus first to see if I could do it and then built the triceratops next and that is what this instructable covers.

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Step 1: Materials Needed

1/2 inch plywood (size will depend on how big you make your dinos)
Wood Glue
Optional for accessorizing:
Small Hinge if you want a tail to swing
Large Nail if you want the mouth to open and close (I actually used the scrap rod from a rivet)

Scroll Saw or fine blade Coping Saw for low tech
Bench Belt Sander or sand paper for really low tech

Step 2: Designing Your Dinos

I started by rough sketching what I wanted the three to look like on paper, along with what could be done to make them more action filled (tail swinging fury and veggie chomping carnage)

Once I was happy with the basic looks, I transferred them to the plywood.  The second pic shows what I hoped the completed dino would look like.

I then broke down the components around the body.  You will need four legs (two front and two back)...assuming your doing a quadruped.  The head was made of three pieces sandwiched together...the two outer pieces were identical with each having the nose horn, main horn and frill.  The inner piece had only the nose horn and frill so this would give the look of three separate horns.

The line going through the head to the bottom jaw is the part of the body that the head will attach to.

Step 3: Cutting and Sanding

After cutting out all of the parts, I tacked the front legs together and sanded them until they were uniform.  I then did this with the back legs and head pieces.  Finally I did a light sand on the body to smooth it off.

Step 4: AssemblyLe

Decide on where you want your legs placed, put a dab of wood glue on them and then nail them down.  I had used nails that were just a tad longer than the two pieces of wood, so I just sanded the points down that came through.  After all four legs were attached, I checked the levelness of the dino standing and sanded down the bottoms of the feet until it sat right

Glue the inner head piece to the outers, making sure that the nose horn and frill on all three are lined up.  Nail the three pieces together.  A well placed nail will do great as eyes for your dino.  I did a nail on each side of the head in roughly the same spots.  You may need to do additional sanding of the head after putting it together to make sure that things are smooth and uniform.

I attached the head to the body with a scrap rod from a rivet but a large nail would work perfectly also.  Just drive it all the way through both sides of the head and body.  The amount of room you have to work with the "cheeks" of the dino and the body will determine how far you can get the mouth to open.  

Step 5: Completed Triceratops and Friends

And here's your completed wooden Triceratops along with the Stegosaurus and T-Rex from Lowes.

I hope you enjoyed this instructable and as soon as I figure out how I'm going to do the Pterodactyl...I'll post that one


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13 Discussions


3 years ago

hi I failed to make this for my son as a gift for his birthday, I'm wondering if you consider selling it


5 years ago on Introduction

my imagination went to my wood shop, where it took your design and severed the head, legs and tail..rounding and contouring them on my ginormous belt and spindle sanders.. From there I imported brass rod an pressed it with a film of gorilla wood glue into the upper rear of the head, shoulder (natural point of movement) of front and back legs and created a sweeping flat dove joint and pressed the brass pin through the upper part of the tail. Then after drilling the body 'axle' holes just a bit larger than the fixed rod glued holes in the parts (for movement during play).. I then adjusted the parts by feeding the axle through the body parts so that they could move in a realistic way. The legs begged me to be set slightly off from each other so that they would be well balanced but holding the characteristic of movement. (The thought of using copper washers (oxidized green to match the paint) and mushroom rivets on a fixed axle flashed briefly across the forefront of my imagination but it was argued that this level of function and design must wait until Christmas toy push). Your super dooper ible here drew my imagination and now I have design ideas and engineering issues to resolve to get the most realistic yet tough movement qualities possible. My imagination thanks you! I'm even thinking of producing these on a scale to nicely bag, printed label and offer as DIY kits for kids at Christmas time in the toy barrels. I think every kid deserves the opportunity to get satisfaction of a personal build. Good on you!

1 reply

5 years ago

Cool! Have some young relatives who will enjoy these!

nice! i like how you had options for those how don't have power tools and how simple they are.


7 years ago on Introduction

Wow, these look great. Awesome main image, too. It certainly encouraged me to click through to learn how to make these. This would make a wonderful project for a middle school or even high school woodshop class.

I LOVE how you included low (and really low) tech options for people who may not have the tools you used. I'd like to see more people do that.

1 reply

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

Yeah...I remember there being a Kit contest going on that I really wanted to be part of...but I guess I missed it


7 years ago on Introduction

Tricera might have been more interesting if the nose horn was only on the center slice, to give it a better triangle pattern of horn points.

For your pterosaur, I'd suggest hinging the wings in a way that allows it to stand on all fours when not flying. I've seen some cool artist renderings of pterosaurs walking around on the ground.