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Wooden Toy Minivan



I made this toy for a boy who was turning three.  It was a a big hit at the birthday party.

The body is walnut, harvested from a branch in my backyard and then air dried.  The wheels are maple from Lee Valley.  The finish is food-safe mineral oil.

This is the second car I've made in this style.  They are easy and fun to make make.  The boy's mom drives a Honda Odyssey, so that's the car I used as a model.  Using Google Images, I found a side picture of a 2009 Honda Odyssey.  I looked for a picture directly from the side.  Using, Visio I drew a 1.5" circle to represent a wheel since the wheels I had where 1.5" in diameter.  Then I copied the photo into Visio and scaled the photo until the wheels of the photo match the 1.5" circle.  The printed Visio drawing was my pattern.  I transferred the pattern to the block of wood by taping the paper to the block and cutting out the shape of the car with my marking knife (or Xacto knife).

I think I finally figured out how to get these wheels attached so the car rolls well.  The Lee Valley wheels have axles that can be purchased, also.  (If the wheel has a 1/4" hole, don't get the 1/4" axle, get the 7/32" axle.)  I drilled the holes for the axles with a drill press to help the wheels run true.  I placed a washer between the body of the car and the wheel.  For smooth rolling, side-to-side "play" in the wheel is necessary, so I temporarily put a thin piece of plastic between the washer and the body of the car as I secured the axle.  The axle is glued in, but I almost never trust glue with toys, so I also put in tiny nails to hold the axle in place.  The nails are also helpful if you have a "helper" in the shop because the helper can play with the car immediately without waiting for the glue to dry. 

A picture is worth more than the previous paragraph:

To finish toys like this, I use food-safe mineral oil, the stuff they advertise for spoons, bowls, and butcher blocks.  You just put it on and wipe it off.  Mineral oil never dries, so you don't have to wait for it to dry.

Expose your kids to wooden toys!  This one is very quick to make.

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