How to Make Old Fashioned Wooden Toys: A Beginner's Guide

Making old fashioned wooden toys is a great way to bring some nostalgia and creativity into your child’s playtime. With a few basic tools and materials, you can create custom toys that are not only fun to play with, but also serve as lasting keepsakes.

One of the great things about making wooden toys is the endless possibilities for customization. You can create a variety of classic toys such as pull toys, blocks, and puzzles, or get creative and design your own unique toys. Making wooden toys also allows you to use natural, non-toxic materials, making them a safer alternative to plastic toys that may contain harmful chemicals.

Whether you’re a seasoned woodworker or a beginner, making old fashioned wooden toys is a fun and rewarding activity that you can enjoy with your children. In the following sections, we’ll provide some tips and ideas to help you get started on your wooden toy making journey.

Understanding the Basics of Wooden Toy Making

If you’re interested in making old-fashioned wooden toys, it’s important to understand the basics of wooden toy making. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you get started:


The first thing you’ll need to do is select the right type of wood for your project. Some popular choices include alder, lime, beech, and maple. It’s important to choose a wood that is strong and durable, but also easy to work with. Avoid using woods that are too hard or too soft, as they can be difficult to shape and may not hold up well over time.


In addition to the right type of wood, you’ll also need a variety of tools to make your wooden toys. Some basic tools you’ll need include a saw, sandpaper, drill, and paintbrushes. Depending on the complexity of your project, you may also need more specialized tools like a lathe or scroll saw.


Working with wood can be dangerous if you’re not careful. Always wear safety goggles and a dust mask to protect your eyes and lungs from sawdust and other debris. Use caution when operating power tools, and be sure to keep your fingers and other body parts away from the blades.


When designing your wooden toys, it’s important to keep in mind the age and skill level of the child who will be playing with them. Simple designs with rounded edges and no small parts are best for young children, while more complex designs may be suitable for older children.


Once you’ve finished making your wooden toys, it’s important to properly finish them to protect the wood and give them a polished look. You can use a variety of finishes, including paint, stain, and varnish. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying the finish, and allow plenty of time for it to dry before giving the toy to a child.

By keeping these basics in mind, you’ll be well on your way to making beautiful and durable old-fashioned wooden toys that will provide hours of fun for children of all ages.

Choosing the Right Wood

When it comes to making old fashioned wooden toys, choosing the right wood is crucial. Not all woods are created equal, and some are better suited for certain types of toys than others. In this section, we’ll explore some things to consider when choosing the right wood for your project.

Hardwoods Vs Softwoods

One of the first things to consider when choosing wood for your toy is whether you want to use hardwood or softwood. Hardwoods come from deciduous trees, while softwoods come from coniferous trees.

Hardwoods are generally denser and more durable than softwoods, making them a good choice for toys that will see a lot of wear and tear. Some popular hardwoods for toy-making include maple, oak, and cherry.

Softwoods, on the other hand, are generally less expensive and easier to work with than hardwoods. They are also lighter in weight, making them a good choice for toys that need to be easy to handle. Some popular softwoods for toy-making include pine, cedar, and spruce.

Sustainable Wood Choices

It’s important to consider the sustainability of the wood you choose for your toy-making project. The demand for wood products has led to deforestation and habitat destruction in many parts of the world.

When possible, choose wood that has been sustainably harvested. Look for wood that has been certified by organizations like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). These certifications ensure that the wood comes from responsibly managed forests.

Another option is to use reclaimed or salvaged wood. This is wood that has been salvaged from old buildings, furniture, or other sources. Using reclaimed wood not only reduces the demand for new wood but also gives new life to materials that might otherwise go to waste.

When choosing the right wood for your old fashioned wooden toy project, consider both the durability of the wood and its sustainability. By making responsible choices, you can create toys that are not only beautiful and fun but also good for the planet.

Essential Tools for Toy Making

When it comes to making old fashioned wooden toys, having the right tools is essential. Here are some of the most important tools you’ll need to get started.

Hand Tools

Hand tools are an important part of any woodworking project, and making wooden toys is no exception. Here are some of the hand tools you’ll need for making wooden toys:

  • Saw: You’ll need a saw to cut your wood into the right shape and size. A hand saw or a jigsaw will work well for this.
  • Drill: A drill will come in handy for making holes in your wooden toys. You’ll need a variety of drill bits in different sizes.
  • Chisels: Chisels are useful for carving and shaping your wooden toys. You’ll need a set of chisels in different sizes and shapes.
  • Sandpaper: Sandpaper is essential for smoothing out rough edges and surfaces. You’ll need a variety of grits, from coarse to fine.

Power Tools

Power tools can make the process of making wooden toys faster and easier. Here are some of the power tools you’ll need for making wooden toys:

  • Table saw: A table saw is a powerful tool that can make quick work of cutting your wooden toys into the right shape and size.
  • Router: A router can be used to create decorative edges and shapes on your wooden toys.
  • Band saw: A band saw is a versatile tool that can be used for a variety of cutting tasks, including cutting curves and shapes.
  • Drill press: A drill press is a powerful tool that can be used for drilling precise holes in your wooden toys.

Remember, safety is always important when working with power tools. Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, wear appropriate safety gear, and work in a well-ventilated area.

Creating Your Toy Design

Designing your own wooden toy can be a fun and rewarding experience. Not only will you have a unique toy that you can be proud of, but you can also customize it to fit your personal style and preferences. Here are some tips on how to create your toy design.

Drawing a Blueprint

Before you start cutting wood, it’s important to have a clear idea of what your toy will look like. Start by drawing a blueprint of your design. This can be a simple sketch or a more detailed plan with measurements and specifications.

Consider the age range of the child who will be playing with the toy and make sure your design is safe and appropriate for them. Think about the size, shape, and weight of the toy, as well as any potential hazards or choking hazards.

Once you have a rough sketch, you can refine it and make any necessary adjustments. Consider using graph paper or a computer program to create a more accurate blueprint.

Choosing a Toy Model

If you’re having trouble coming up with your own design, you can always choose a toy model to base your design on. There are many classic wooden toys that you can use as inspiration, such as blocks, pull toys, and puzzles.

Look online or in toy stores for ideas, and consider adding your own unique twist to the design. You can also find templates and patterns online to help guide your design process.

Once you have a model in mind, you can start sketching out your design and making any necessary modifications. Remember to always prioritize safety and functionality when designing your toy.

By following these steps, you can create a one-of-a-kind wooden toy that will bring joy and entertainment to children for years to come.

Carving and Shaping the Toy

When it comes to making old fashioned wooden toys, carving and shaping the toy is one of the most important steps. This is where you give your toy its unique character and personality. Here are some tips and techniques to help you get started.

Carving Techniques

There are many different ways to carve wood, but some of the most common techniques used for making wooden toys include whittling, carving with a chisel, and using a scroll saw. Whittling involves using a knife to remove small pieces of wood, while carving with a chisel involves using a sharp tool to remove larger pieces of wood. A scroll saw is a power tool that allows you to cut intricate shapes and patterns into wood.

No matter which technique you choose, it’s important to take your time and work slowly and carefully. Start with a rough sketch of your toy, and then slowly carve away the excess wood until you achieve the desired shape and size. Remember to always carve away from your body to avoid injury.

Sanding and Smoothing

Once you’ve carved your toy, it’s time to sand and smooth it to give it a nice finish. Start with a coarse grit sandpaper to remove any rough spots or bumps, and then gradually work your way up to a finer grit sandpaper to achieve a smooth finish.

It’s important to sand in the direction of the wood grain to avoid creating scratches or marks on the surface of your toy. You can also use a sanding block or a power sander to make the process easier and more efficient.

After sanding, you may want to apply a coat of wood sealer or varnish to protect your toy and give it a nice shine. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and apply the sealer or varnish in a well-ventilated area.

With these tips and techniques, you’ll be well on your way to carving and shaping your own old fashioned wooden toys. Just remember to take your time, work carefully, and have fun!

Assembling the Toy

Joining Parts Together

Now that you have all the individual wooden parts cut out, it’s time to put them together to create your old fashioned wooden toy. The first step is to sand all the edges of the pieces to ensure that they are smooth and free of splinters. You can use sandpaper or a sanding block for this task.

Next, you’ll need to join the different parts together. You can use wood glue or small nails to attach the parts. If you’re using nails, make sure they are small enough so that they don’t split the wood. You can also use a combination of glue and nails for added strength.

Before gluing or nailing the parts together, make sure that they are aligned properly. Use a square to ensure that all the corners are at right angles. You can also use clamps to hold the pieces together while the glue dries.

Ensuring Toy Safety

Safety is of utmost importance when making toys for children. Before giving the toy to a child, make sure that it is safe to play with. Here are some tips to ensure toy safety:

  • Check for any sharp edges or corners and sand them down if necessary.
  • Make sure that all the parts are securely attached so that they don’t come apart during play.
  • Use non-toxic paints or finishes to decorate the toy.
  • Avoid using small parts that can be a choking hazard for young children.
  • Follow any specific safety guidelines or regulations for the type of toy you’re making.

By following these tips, you can ensure that the old fashioned wooden toy you make is safe for children to play with.

Finishing Touches

Once you have completed the construction of your wooden toy, it’s time to add the finishing touches. The final steps involve painting or staining the toy and adding any details that will make it stand out.

Painting and Staining

When it comes to painting or staining your wooden toy, it’s important to choose non-toxic options that are safe for children. Some good options include non-toxic liquid watercolors, milk paint, or acrylic paint. Be sure to test the paint or stain on a small, inconspicuous area of the toy before applying it to the entire surface.

If you choose to stain your wooden toy, be aware that different types of wood will absorb the stain differently. For example, pine will absorb more stain than oak, resulting in a darker color. Consider using a wood conditioner before applying the stain to ensure an even finish.

Adding Details

Adding details to your wooden toy is a great way to make it unique and special. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Use woodburning tools to create intricate designs or patterns on the surface of the toy.
  • Add eyes, mouths, and other facial features using non-toxic paint or markers.
  • Use fabric or felt to create clothing or accessories for your toy.
  • Attach small bells, beads, or other embellishments to add texture and interest.

Remember to keep safety in mind when adding details to your wooden toy. Be sure to use non-toxic materials and avoid any small parts that could pose a choking hazard. With a little creativity and attention to detail, you can create a beautiful, one-of-a-kind wooden toy that your child will treasure for years to come.

Maintaining Your Wooden Toys

Wooden toys are not only charming and timeless but also durable and long-lasting. However, they require regular maintenance to keep them in good condition. Here are some simple tips to help you maintain your wooden toys.


Cleaning your wooden toys is essential to keep them free of dirt, grime, and bacteria that may accumulate over time. Here are some tips to help you clean your wooden toys:

  • Use a soft, damp cloth to wipe the surface of your wooden toys. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners that may damage the wood.
  • If your wooden toy is heavily soiled, you can use a mild soap solution to clean it. Mix a few drops of gentle soap with warm water and use a soft cloth to clean the toy. Rinse the toy with clean water and dry it thoroughly.
  • Avoid soaking your wooden toys in water, as this may cause the wood to warp or crack.
  • If your wooden toy has intricate details or hard-to-reach areas, you can use a soft-bristled brush to clean it.

Regular Check-ups

Regular check-ups can help you identify any potential problems with your wooden toys before they become serious. Here are some tips to help you perform regular check-ups on your wooden toys:

  • Inspect your wooden toys regularly for signs of wear and tear, such as cracks, splinters, or loose parts. If you notice any damage, repair it immediately to prevent further damage.
  • Check your wooden toys for any signs of pests, such as termites or ants. If you notice any pests, take steps to eliminate them immediately.
  • Store your wooden toys in a cool, dry place to prevent warping or cracking. Avoid exposing your wooden toys to direct sunlight or moisture, as this may cause damage to the wood.

By following these simple tips, you can help ensure that your wooden toys remain in good condition for years to come.

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