Old Fashioned Wooden Toys

Here are three ideas submitted by readers for old fashioned wooden toys you can make yourself.

| November/December 1979

The excitement and spirit of Christmas is always the same—especially for the children among us—but many of the toys available nowadays leave much to be desired. If you're among the folks who're tired of "modern", expensive, plastic, break-the-first-time-they're-used playthings, check out these old fashioned wooden toys built by MOTHER EARTH NEWS' clever researchers. We think the easy-to-construct designs will allow just about anybody, regardless of how many thumbs he or she may have, to put together some sturdy gifts for the tiny folk.

Paddle-Wheel Boat

For your first project, try building your own riverboat. We've put together a couple Paddle Boat Diagrams to help you.

Take a 3/4" X 4" X 12" piece of pine stock and cut a rounded "bow" on one end of it. Then, trim two more scraps of pine to 3/4" X 31/2" X 4" and trace out the profile of your newly formed bow on each of these (making the lines of the curve about 1/2" thick), cut the wooden arcs out, and fasten 'em (using waterproof glue) first to each other and then to the bow of the ship.

Next drill 5/16" holes through two pieces of 3/4" X 1 1/2" X 1 1/2" stock, round the boards' upper corners, and glue the blocks to the rear of the boat. File the teeth off a hacksaw blade and fasten it to the deck of the ship with a No. 6 X 1/2" wood screw about 4 inches from the stern. Slip a 5-3/4" length of 5/16" wooden dowel through one of the 3/4" X 1 1/2" X 1 1/2" dowel supports, through a wooden spool, and then into the 5/16" hole in the other dowel support. Check for free rotation. If the dowel binds as it moves, take the stick out again and enlarge the two holes in the supports. The spool, however, must be tight on the dowel. If it's not secure, fasten it in place with waterproof glue.

The toy's paddle wheels are made of two 3/4"-wide, 1 1/2"-diameter plugs, each with a 5/16" hole bored in its center. Cut four 1/4"-deep slots into each plug at equal points around the circumference, then fold eight 1 1/2" X 3" aluminum sheets (or use 1 1/2" X 1 1/2" squares cut from old plastic bleach bottles) and force them into the slots to serve as paddles. Now press the plug-and-paddle assemblies onto each end of the 5/16" dowel and test them for tightness (again, glue them if necessary).

Next, take two screw eyes and insert one into the boat at a point directly behind the spool, and the other halfway between the spool and the hacksaw blade. Drill a 1/16" hole through the center of the spool and dowel. Tie a 24" length of 30-pound-test monofilament fishing line through it, wind the line onto the spool, and slip the free end of the line through the screw eye behind the spool. Attach a metal ring to prevent the string from pulling through the hole.

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