Archive for the Toy Making Category

You Make My Heart Spin

Posted in Automata, Toy Making, Woodworking with tags , , , on February 15, 2014 by Jim


Happy Valentines day!



Wheel spacing jig for toy wooden car wheels

Posted in Toy Making, Woodworking with tags , , , , , , on January 25, 2014 by Jim

Tonight, I had to make some wooden toy cars for a birthday party.

handmade toy wooden cars

I have always had a little trouble when using pre-made axles for toy wooden cars. I either sink the first axle too deep and the wheel will not turn. That, or I sink it too deep when I flip the car over to drive in the second axle. I needed something to stop all this silliness.

Tongue depressors save the day

spacing jig for wooden toy car wheels

I cut a notch in the end of two tongue depressors and laid them on the car body with the notch around the axle. When you drive the axle into the body, the tongue depressor stops it with just the right spacing. I made two so I can leave the first one in place when I drive the opposing axle in. This keeps me from sinking the first axle too deep when driving the second one.

I think that they will be well received at the party.

handmade wooden toy cars for birthday party

So, if you are making toys with little wooden axles – get yourself some tongue depressors.

Happy making,


Bird on a wire, well, technically – a string…

Posted in Birds, Toy Making, Wooden tops on March 25, 2013 by Jim

I haven’t been able to get into the shop for a bit now but today, I had a few minutes to make something for a little one:

Wooden bird pull toy

This one is mulberry wood on a cherry base with maple wheels – an old button to pull it with.

Happy making,


Old fashioned Wooden Tops

Posted in Toy Making, Wooden tops, Woodworking on January 9, 2012 by Jim

A friend found me a great used lathe recently. I was able to get it set up and work up a couple of new tops.

wooden tops

Happy Making,


A Tiny Stainless Steel Whistle

Posted in metalwork, Toy Making, Whistle Making on September 20, 2010 by Jim

Is there a machinist in the house?

I have a Unimat metal lathe. I prize it because it was my grandfathers. He was a blacksmith and he just about used this little lathe up. It earned its living – if you know what I mean.

A couple hours before bedtime to play tonight and I got the lathe out to see what kind of trouble I could get myself into. So I made this little whistle.

Hand made stainless steel whistle

I dug out a little scrap of 3/8″ stainless rod left over from a jig I made and chucked it right up! Then I discovered what I do every time I use this lathe. I am not a machinist. I need to take a class or get some instruction.

Anyway, I like how it looks. I will like it even more when I get it to whistle 😛

Happy Making,


Robin Whirligig – it’s too hot to go birdwatching

Posted in Birds, Toy Making, Whirligigs, Woodworking with tags , on August 11, 2010 by Jim

Far too hot to be serious, I needed a little silly

It has been to hot to go to the lake to get in any birdwatching. Whirligigs make me happy. So, there you have it – it had to be a new whirligig for the yard. Seriously, I love things that move and spin and whirl. This weeks shop fun was a little robin whirligig:

Cedar Robin Whirlygig

He is cedar painted with latex house paint and held up on a brass spindle.

Happy Making,


A flood and a catfish – what a combination

Posted in Carving, Toy Making, Uncategorized, Woodworking on May 21, 2010 by Jim

Wow, the last two days have been about water. Squirrels in my yard decided that my gutter downspouts were lovely walnut dispensers. They brought walnuts from the other side of the house to stack in my gutters. It was like a giant Pez dispenser for squirrels.

Without gutters to give the rain something funner to do, it all ran into my shop. I have been moving water from one side of the shop to the drain on other side since yesterday.

On a happier note, I got to play with the new draw-knives that my dad made me (see post just before this one). They flew through this poplar like butter. I am finding that I can rough out a carving like this faster and more happily with a spokeshave, hand plane, and a draw knife than with power tools.

Hand Carved Wooden Catfish Toy with a crown

This little catfish survived the flood. I was laughing a lot of the time I was carving him. I have been making up epic tales of his exploits in my head. (Maybe I was breathing too many paint fumes in the shop…)

If you need King Catfish to swim in your pond, or to recite to you his heroic exploits,  he will be available on my Etsy shop here.

Praying Machine flies!

Posted in Automata, Carving, Gear Making, metalwork, Toy Making, Woodworking with tags on April 13, 2010 by Jim

The wings flap…

Our prayers are going to Heaven! I have not had a lot of time the last few weeks to work on the Praying machine but I did sneak in a few hours this weekend.


I got the bit of the mechanism complete that raises and lowers the wings. Next will the be the gearing that spins the prayer box itself.

Cranking on the Automata Praying Machine

Posted in Automata, Toy Making on March 29, 2010 by Jim

I am starting to think through how the gears are going to move in the Praying Machine.

I made a jig that lets me try out moving gear ideas.

Gear tester for Automata wooden toy

Last time I posted about automata, I mentioned Dug North. I have found another maker that is also incredibly inspiring. Take a look at the work of Keith Newstead.  He has a blog here. Just looking at his work  makes me happy.

The process of making my machine is as enjoyable as any thing I have ever made – probably better.

I will keep you posted on the progress. I plan to sell this piece on Etsy when it is completed.


Go Kart or Summer Sled

Posted in Toy Making, Woodworking on March 20, 2010 by Jim

Wooden Go Kart Summer Sled

Go Kart, Summer Sled, or ‘big wooden thing that is more fun than you can shake a stick at’…

Holy cheese Batman, this thing is waaaaaaaaaaaaaayyy more fun than I expected. We will not have to wait for snow to go sledding anymore.

The idea came from ‘The Dangerous Book for Boys‘ which I cannot recommend enough.