Some Ideas for Toys

by Paul Meisel on ‎10-18-2011 06:43 AM


#36 Blog

Some Ideas for Toys


I had a nice surprise the other day - a package arrived in the mail.  When I opened it I saw it contained some toy trucks and a five piece train.  I carefully read the cover letter.  It was from Stuart Ward of California.  Stuart mentioned in his cover letter that he had modified some of my Molding Car plans.  (See my Blogs #29 & 30 – Molding Cars Part 1 & Part 2).  The reason these cars are called “Molding Cars” is because they were originally designed to be built from standard size moldings that can be found at most any lumberyard or home center.


Teaching woodworking to young people has its share of challenges.  For some people the biggest challenge is having enough tools, especially power tools.  Without a table saw and a router you are limited as to what you can make.  It was for that reason I wanted to design some projects that my students could make using only a miter box and drill press.  By cutting off just the right length of various shapes of molding, cars and trucks could be made with interesting shapes that were pleasing to the eye.  Plus they were fun for my students.    


Stuart said in his cover letter that he did what I hope lots of others will do.  He designed projects based (roughly) on the original cars and trucks I introduced, but with his own style and creativity.  I like it when people create new designs.  And I certainly enjoyed seeing the projects Stuart sent.      


Stuart added that he has sold his trucks very successfully in craft boutiques in Orange, California.  He said that the molding trucks below were the best sellers! (Fig. 1)




Fig. 1: Trucks made from standard size moldings (plus a wood turning).


Also in Stuart’s package was a toy train (Fig. 2).  Since I like working with children, I naturally had to size his train project up to determine if my students could manage it.  As can be seen in Figure 3, his cars are designed with two pieces of 3/4” pine face-glued together.  By offsetting these pieces, a hole can be drilled in the upper piece and a wood dowel “peg” added for a hitch pin (Fig. 3).  Each car requires two boards that are 2-1/4” wide by 6-1/2” long.  They are glued together with a 1-1/2” overlap on each end making the total length of each car 8”.  The dowel used for the connecting pin is 3/8” diameter and the receiving hole in the lower board is drilled 7/16” diameter.  The wheels are attached to 3-1/2” lengths of 1/4” wood dowel which go through what appears to be a 5/16” hole drilled through the bottom board. 


This is a simple enough project for children to do.  They will need to design the remaining parts that make up the engine and car bodies.  Some, but not all, of these parts can be made from standard wood molding profiles which can be cut using a miter box.  You may have to help students with some of the odd shaped parts.  The barrels are attached with wood dowels.  Drill three 1/4” holes in the base assembly and glue a short length of dowel into each hole.  Drill a hole just slightly larger than the dowel in the bottom of the barrel so it can be slipped on and off – good fun!  The wheels and cargo are available from mail order sources such as Meisel Hardware Specialties or Cherry Tree.


Since this train in not my design I can not offer drawings for it.  But I have included it so you can have your children make something similar.  It illustrates another project you can have your children work on.  You can encourage creative design when it comes to how the cars are made – a good thing! 




Fig. 2: A simple train with a clever system to connect the cars.




Fig. 3: The cars connect using a 3/8” diameter wood dowel.



Paul Meisel -
WOOD Online Blogger
Specialty: Woodworking with Children 
Meisel Hardware Specialties