How To Make Wooden Toys

Wooden toys might sound like something from a bygone era, but in recent times of climate concerns and the amount of plastic waste, more and more people are returning to wooden toys, and manufacturers are taking note. 

How To Make Wooden Toys

That being said, wooden toys can be far more expensive than their plastic counterparts, meaning they might not be an option for everyone – depending on their budget limitations. 

So this begs the question: can you make your own wooden toys at home, and if so, how can this be done? 

Is It Possible To Make Wooden Toys? 

This might sound like a silly question, but the fact of the matter is that projects like this can seem daunting to those who haven’t done it before. 

The honest answer is, yes, it is entirely possible for anyone to make their own wooden toys for their children – but the level of detail and how advanced they are relies entirely on your skill level.  

What Kinds Of Toys Can You Make? 

The world really is your oyster, but to start with, why not test your hand at making a simple rolling toy?

That is, a toy that is shaped like something – such as a duck, a dog, or indeed a car – and then attach four wheels on the bottom, paint it in a bright, attractive design, and give it a protective finish. 

These are some of the easiest toys to make, but you need to make sure you have a good idea of what you want to do, what equipment and tools you need, and make sure that you mark it out clearly. 

How To Make A Wooden Toy: Preparation

Once you have drawn a diagram of what it is you want to make, it is now time to gather your tools and materials. 


The list won’t be especially long for this particular toy, but each item is vital to the process. The tools you will need are as follows: 

  • Bandsaw – for cutting template
  • Drill press – for axle holes
  • Drill bits – for the holes
  • 1” belt sander – for smoothing the toy
  • Router table – ¼ “ round over bit
  • Safety goggles – to protect your eyes from sawdust and wood chips


When it comes to the materials and components themselves, this list is also quite simple, and goes as follows: 

  • Axle and four wheels – these can be collected from hobby and craft stores. For this, we will be using 1.25” wheels, but be sure to check against the dimensions you intend to work on. 
  • Wood glue
  • The paint you need – depending on your design/final product
  • 2” x 6” wood – preferably any scraps of solid wood you have laying around
  • ⅛” plywood – to use as a cutting template

Choosing A Design

For an introduction to toy making, it is perhaps best to choose something that is a smooth, simplistic shape.

As mentioned, this can be a car, or it could be an animal – just be sure to use a photo and draw a clear, simple plan based on your chosen subject. 

Either way, you want something that is recognizable in profile, and then choose a suitable image to create your template from. 

If you are choosing an animal, then it is best to break it down into its core elements – for example, an elephant would be a rounded shape, with a large ear and a trunk.

Do not focus too much on specific details, like wrinkles and muscle etc – we are aiming for cartoon-style designs, not accurate. 

You can also select your photo, cut it out using scissors, and then draw around it onto the wood to get a distinct outline for cutting. 

How To Make A Wooden Toy: The Process

How To Make A Wooden Toy: The Process

Now that you have your design and everything you need, now it is time to start the process. The steps for this are fairly simple, but by following them you stand the best chance of getting a good outcome. 

So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Step One

First, cut out your wood from the template you drew earlier. 

This should be done using the band saw, and if you can do it as close to the edge of the piece of wood – and in as simple a manner – as possible, then it will be an all round easier job. 

Next mark out the holes for your axles, using a pencil and your picture for reference. 

Step Two

Now it is time to drill the axle holes. 

For this, you will need your drill, and an appropriate drill bit size for the size of the toy, and the dimensions of the axle you purchased. 

The best way to begin is to use something solid to make an initial dent into your wooden toy. This will allow the drill to take easier, and make the process simpler. 

Step Three

Next, secure the toy to the bench, and use your sander to smooth the edges, being sure to test the sander on another spare piece first. 

Step Four

Next comes time to paint. This can be in any color scheme you want, and may require a couple of coats to ensure a good finish. 

Step Five

Next you need to attach and glue your axles. Use wood glue sparingly, and be sure that the fit is tight and secure enough. 

When attaching the wheels, be sure to leave enough room between the animal body, and the wheel nut that you will then attach – otherwise it will not move. 

Final Thoughts

And there we have it, everything you need to know about making your own wooden toys at home. 

Wooden toys might seem like a hark back to a bygone era, but in this world of climate awareness, and with the rise in plastic waste, many have returned to this wholesome way of toy making – and we here are all for the change (see also ‘How To Make A Puppet‘)!

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