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Do-it-yourself projects and plans for anyone who can swing a hammer.


What Is the Best Kids' Wooden Toy You Have Built?

By Heidi Hunt


Tags: question to readers, wooden toys,

I know — it’s only September, and December 25 is a looong way away. But if you plan on making any holiday gifts this year, it is time to start planning. You’ve seen the ads on TV for the dad who is frantically finishing up a project at 2 a.m. on Christmas Eve — you don’t want to be that person!

When my brother was about 3 years old, my dad carved a rifle shape from a 2-by-4. He attached a clothes pin to the top, making it a fancy rubber-band gun. I can see my brother in his cowboy hat, with the “gun” lying across his arm and a big smile on his face. I was frequently the target of those flying rubber bands.

Kids have played with wooden toys since there were kids. It is a natural material to craft into so many shapes. You can find lots of kids wooden toy plan ideas - from dump trucks to a backyard slide — from the archive pages of MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine. But whether you follow one of these patterns or one from your imagination, a toy made by you for that special child in your life will be a memorable gift.

Have you created a wooden plaything for a child, either from a pattern or your own imagination? If so, tell us about it in the comments section below.

kelly boram
9/25/2009 9:07:52 AM

every year in our area toys for tots and a local lumber mill put on a wood toy building contest just before christmas. ive entered it every year for the past 8 years and have loved doing it. the best one was a toy barn complete with tractor and wagon and a horse it was my favorite toy i just came up with the plan from the top of my head. every year i come up with a new plan and hope the child who gets it will like it.


jennifer taggart, thesmartmama
9/23/2009 7:20:09 PM

Absolutely love the idea of making your own wood toys. For those that aren't that skilled, unfortunately, there may be fewer wood toys on the market this holiday season because of the high cost of testing under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. While I wholeheartedly believe in reducing exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, the CPSIA's lack of any risk based considerations means many products that pose little risk require extensive testing. And that is particularly difficult for small companies and crafters making the very sort of toys and other items I support - green, natural, healthy toys.


sandra baird
9/23/2009 4:08:06 PM

Times were tough, money scarce, so this single mom built 2 sets of stilts. It took 4 2by2's and a couple of blocks of wood and a couple of bolts. I drilled multiple holes, so they were adjustable and we (my boys and I) customized them after Christmas. I finally had to make another pair for me and then help all their friends make theirs. Recently had to locate them for my grandson. I can't believe they were still in the shed...I repurpose a lot of things.


pc mcb
9/23/2009 10:33:06 AM

I have made many toys over the years, but the best one was one that I intended to sell. It was a block wagon, on of those that comes all apart and the child has to rebuild the wagon, sort of like a puzzle. I made two of them and put them in my booth. I sold the first one right away, and the second one just sat there. Two ladies came up and started a discussion about which of them was going to buy the wagon. While they were still "discussing" the matter, another person came up and handed me the money for the wagon. End of discussion. I had a good laugh over it.


raynjer
9/23/2009 8:13:39 AM

Last Christmas before flying out to see the grandkids, I pre-cut all the materials for a wooden treasure chest. The job when for them was to assemble the chest. I brought all the necessary materials many of which I picked up at a dollar store. They each got their own hammers, tape measure, safefty glasses, dust masks, (safety first!), carpenters pencils, sanding blocks, paint brushes, etc. As I had used hardwood, each of the pieces needed to be predrilled using dad's cordless drill. They loved using that! We used pieces of leather straps for hinges and handles. After assembly, they painted their treasure chests whatever way they wanted. One of the girls even decided to make a tray for hers to have a hidden compartment for the extra special treasures. It was a great experience working with the grandkids making something that they will likely keep for many years. Now I just have to find something else that will be as much fun as that project was.


headred_1
9/22/2009 8:06:03 AM

Not so much a toy, but my husband and I built a barbie house one year for our girls. It was awesome! 3 stories high, life size for barbie, a roll top garage door and a hinged roof for storage. We used scrap carpet for flooring and used wallpaper from old sample books. It was very much like a real house. They had to stand on a stool just so Barbie could play on the deck. www.whatupduck.com