Tips for Woodworking Beginners Making Wood Toys

Building your first wood toys from a step-by-step plan should be a safe, enjoyable and comfortable process. It should challenge your abilities, even as a beginner- but always with the attainable goal of creating a fun (and functional!) toy. The best woodworking plans have clear instructions, complete materials and suggested tools lists, and quality photos. My Playful Plans also include a variety of other helpful "ingredients" for cooking up some basic, heirloom-quality toys in your spare time, no matter your level of experience. Here are a few tips on getting started!

Tip 1: Start with Woodworking Plans for Simple Wood Toys

wooden toy A frequent mistake made by woodworking novices is attempting to build a complex toy, such as one with a number of moving parts, or a variety of materials requiring tools and skills unavailable to the beginner. There's no quicker way to become discouraged, and there are many wonderful toys of a simpler type that are easily constructed by beginners.

Examine carefully any photo of  a plaything that appeals to you and it's level of difficulty should be readily apparent. If the only moving parts are wheels joined by axles, or articulated body parts joined by nails or screws, you're on the right track. Avoid woodworking plans with complicated connecting parts such as metal rods and those with more than a dozen-or-so parts. If it appears complicated, keep looking for a plan that both appeals to you and is clearly designed for beginning builders, too. You can move on to more challenging projects whenever your skills and your toolchest are ready!

Tip 2: Buy Quality Tools for Making Wood Toys

toy plans Basic woodworking plans require few tools. That said, there's no excuse for using poor quality tools, ever. They are bound to make even the simplest project a botch job and will soon discourage your efforts in the workshop.

If you're just exploring your interest in woodworking and toybuilding, there's no need to lay out a fortune for lots of expensive tools. A dozen well-chosen hand tools of good quality (and several basic handheld power tools) are what you need. Here's a link to Make Magazine contributor Len Cullum and his excellent suggestions for choosing basic tools for the craft that will last a lifetime.

Each of my Playful Plans includes a list of suggested tools which are as basic as possible for the job at hand, ideal for the novice on a limited budget and just starting out.

Tip 3: Wood Toys are an Art.. Take your Time!

Here are three good reasons for not rushing your wooden toy project:

woodworking project 1. It's dangerous. I've been fortunate to have never suffered a serious injury in thirty years in the workshop, which I like to attribute to taking my time and paying attention while working- even while using the most basic techniques such as sawing, drilling  and sanding. Some folks I know haven't been so lucky.  Slow down, watch your fingers, and never work on your projects when you're tired or distracted.

2. The quality of your finished wood toy will be proportional to the quality of the time you spend on it. A rush job simply won't look as good or operate as well as one that receives your careful attention and extra time spent on the details.

3. There's no point investing your time and effort in learning this wonderful craft if you're not going to enjoy yourself. Take a few minutes as you build to relax and consider upcoming steps, to consider options for making the project more uniquely personal, and to savor the beginning, middle and end of what is an age-old and fascinating process involving head, hands and heart. It can be offer a lifetime of satisfactions if you'll focus on the tasks at hand and let the clock tick away on it's own time!

Learn more about our beginner and advanced plans for wood toys.