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How To Make Wooden Farm Toys

I’m a sucker for wooden toys. In my mind, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing a child play with a toy you handcrafted.

Kurtis Foote, of Just Build Stuff, published a scroll saw book How To Make Wooden Farm Toys. Farm toy patterns are hard to come by, so I was pretty excited to get this book.

These designs are geared toward beginner and intermediate woodworkers. In fact, they only require a scroll saw and a drill press to build. They’re rugged enough to withstand a lot of play, but elegant enough to double as models. They’ll certainly delight any child or child-at-heart.

The book is easy to read and follow along. Each project is broken down into step-by-step instructions. Kurtis uses extensive 3-D renderings.  I especially like the exploded views. It makes it simple to see exactly how each toy is assembled. The patterns are full size, so there is no need to enlarge and tape together patterns.

I was hoping there would be a few more toy designs included. Technically, there are only three. The first project is a combine with two interchangeable heads (a rolling reel head and a corn head). I really like the interchangeable head as it expands the toy’s possibilities. The second plan is a skid loader. This clever design has a movable scoop, which is a lot of fun. The third project is a standard tractor. The fourth project is a tractor disc, which technically is an accessory for the tractor. However, the tractor disc project is complicated enough (all though, not difficult to build) to warrant its own project section.

The only thing I see lacking is a suggestion for a child-safe finish. The author instead directs the reader to do some research to find an appropriate finish in order to complete the projects in this book. As a toy-maker myself, I know how difficult it is to find advice on child-safe finish and wish it was covered in more detail. (Incidentally , check out this post for a really good finish for toys.)

So, here’s the rundown:

Pros:

  • Easy to build.
  • Elegant designs.
  • Excellent illustrations.
  • Exploded views for easy assembly.
  • Patterns are full size.

Cons:

  • Only 3 complete toy designs.
  • Missing toy finish suggestions.

I think this is a great book to add to your collection.  Especially if you’re looking for unique farm toys. Check it out!

Update: Plans are also available as downloadable PDFs on Just Build Stuff.

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Child Safe Finish For Toys

With all the news of toxic chemicals in toys made over seas, child-safe finishes have become a hot topic.  Cynthia Lewman from Toymaker Press put together a really nice tutorial on how to make your own non-toxic, child safe finish for toys.  This finish will display the beauty of the wood, but won’t hurt the little ones if they decide to chew on the toy before playing with it.  Be sure to check out Toymaker Press for some really cool toy patterns, too.

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How to Build a Wood Toy Car

Natural wooden toys are becoming more and more popular, especially with the concerns of toxic materials in toys made overseas.  Here’s a neat video on how Sherman Francisco builds a toy car that he and his club donates to Toys For Tots.  He’s using the Ripsnorter pattern from Toymaker Press.  Be sure to check Toymaker Press out.  They have a lot of great desigs and even a couple free patterns you can try out.

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Rubber Band Guns

rubberbandgunsOne of my favorite things to do as a kid as the weather warmed up is getting together with my friends and playing Cowboys  or War.  We’d pull out our rubber band guns and shoot each other with our elastic ammo and feign our grisly demise.  While it may not be PC any more, but there is something to be said for a simple toy like a good old fashioned rubber band gun.  Easy Scroll Patterns has opened up their entire collection of scroll saw patterns to the public.  Among these great designs are some wonderful rubber band guns.  They include a traditional pistol, machine gun, shot gun, Winchester, and an M16.  Check it out.  And while you’re there, check out some of their other free patterns!

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Scroll Saw Made From A Toy

scrollsaw_toyRemember those old Erector sets you had as a kid?  You would take bits of pseudo angle iron and aluminum strips and  bolt them together to create some really cool structures.  I built mostly robots and airplanes.  Well, here’s a scroll saw created using a Czech product similar to the Erector Set called Merkur. The builder,  Tobias, writes he made the majority of the scroll saw using Merkur and added a motor to power the saw.  Looks pretty good to me!  So if your scroll saw ever breaks down, dig out your old Erector set and build your own!

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Toymakers: Sign of Relief

photo by ehsan namavar

photo by Ehsan Namavar

I’m not a political person in general. But there was one issue that was close to my heart. I’ve written several articles (Good News For Handmade Toys, Save Hand Made Toys, and No More Handmade Toys) about the CPSIA and their new rule to require expensive 3rd party testing on products intended for children. This ruling would force thousands of crafters and cottage industries out of business. But we can now breath a sigh of relief, at least for the time being. The CPSIA has issued a 1 year suspension of the rule so they can further explore concerns  and look for possible options. Etsy.com has a great article about the 1 year suspension that you can read here.   You can continue to keep up to date and see what you can do to help by visiting the Hand Made Toy Alliance.

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