How to build a wooden toy car from scratch

Want to build your own wooden toy car? Learn how from a skilled craftsman.
Christopher McFadden

In a world seemingly drowning in plastic toys, it is always refreshing to find some handmade traditional ones on your travels. But, have you ever wondered how these "old school" toys are made? 

Then watch a master craftsman apply his trade to make a cute little wooden toy car. 

wooden toy car complete
Source: Interesting Engineering

Step 1: Prepare the wood and sketch out the design

The first step is to choose some pieces of wood to turn into the toys. Once done, the wood then needs to be prepared prior to make the toys by cutting it down to size using a bandsaw.

In this case, sections of wood are trimmed down into thin sheets and slivers of wood. With the wood prepared, the next step is to mark out the rough design of some of the toy's major components. 

making wooden toys basic design
Source: Interesting Engineering

For more detailed sections of the toy, the design is sketched out on the wooden and then cut out using a jigsaw or similar. 

With that done, the cut edges of the wood are then sanded down by hand. For the back trunk and other open spaces in the design, the corners are drilled out first before cutting out the area as needed.

wooden toys holes
Source: Interesting Engineering

Step 2: Begin construction

With the basic pieces ready, the next step is to begin to assemble the toy itself. Parts are tested against one another, and where required, filled down or sanded using small tools like a Dremel.

Being a toy, all sharp edges are also sanded down. As pieces are finished, they are glued together using wood glue and clamped into place until the glue has fully cured. 

wooden toy making glue
Source: Interesting Engineering

Where required, as in this case, angled pieces of wood, like the engine block, can also be cut, sanded, and glued into place on the toy as needed. Minor adjustments can be made before the glue is fully cured, which is handy. 

For things like wheels, special drill attachments are added to the craftsman's bench drill to cut out perfect discs of wood. 

wooden toy wheels
Source: Interesting Engineering

Step 3: Make the wheels

To smooth off the edges of things like wheels, the wooden discs can be placed in a lathe or specially rigged power drills to sand down their edges perfectly. Other details like tire treads can also be cut into the wood at this point. 

To affix the wheels to the main chassis, special axle mount pieces are made and then glued into place underneath the car. These are simple blocks of wood with a central hole drilled through them. 

wooden toy car axles
Source: Interesting Engineering

With that done, a way to actually attach the wheels to the axle mounts is needed. For this, the craftsman takes a rod of wood, measures the length needed, and cuts them down to size. 

Once cut, and sanded down, the axle rods can be inserted into the mounts, and the wheels glued to the ends of the axle. In this case, the wheels are glued slightly off-center to give the car a "funny" wobble when it moves. 

wooden toy car axles
Source: Interesting Engineering

Step 4: Finishing the toy car

Next, measurements are made for the main cabin of the car. The design is sketched onto the wood and then cut as needed. A basic driver shape is also cut out. 

As always, all cut pieces are sanded down to remove burrs and sharp edges. The driver is given some basic arms by drilling holes across the shoulders and lengths of string are added into the holes. 

A small steering wheel is also fashioned, and the string arms glued into place before installing the driver into place. 

wooden toy car driver
Source: Interesting Engineering

Other details are then added, like wooden buttons for headlights. A hole is also drilled at the front of the car for the pull cord to be added. 

The cord itself is then made from a length of colored rope, and tied into place through the front towing hole. 

wooden toy car decos
Source: Interesting Engineering

With that this particular wooden toy car is now ready to be given to one lucky child. 

If you enjoyed watching this master craftsman at work, you might enjoy learning about how another applies their trade? How about, for example, watching a master blacksmith make some beautiful axes

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