Making Heirloom Toys

Making Heirloom Toys

SKU# 070240

22 Projects with Historical Detail

Jim Makowicki


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Other Formats
  • Product # 070240
  • Type Paperback
  • ISBN 978-1-56158-112-2
  • Published Date 1996
  • Dimensions 9 x 11
  • Pages 160
  • Photos color photos
  • Drawings and drawings

Professional designer and woodworker Jim Makowicki's 22-project collection reflects uncanny historical detail and technical accuracy. Each ingeniously designed toy is a potential family heirloom, as a plaything or for display.

Makowicki's sophisticated toy designs are extraordinary. Some projects have over 50 pieces; one, a handsome ferry boat complete with vintage vehicles has over 100. There are simpler toys, too, all suited to the average woodworker's skills.

Projects are meticulously researched and include scale drawings that can be copier-enlarged into full-size working plans. Readers get step-by-step details, including safety, design and finishing information. Projects are mostly transportation toys: cars, trucks, airplanes, trains, boats and more.

Table of Contents

Toymaking Techniques

Chapter 1: Finishing

Project 1: Grasshopper
Project 2: Tug Boat
Project 3: Dump Truck
Project 4: Crane Truck and Trailer
Project 5: Jeep with Canopy

Chapter 2: A Gallery of Heirloom Toys

Project 6: Sports Car
Project 7: Walk the Ball
Project 8: Life Star Helicopter
Project 9: Police Helicopter
Project 10: Jet Plane
Project 11: Biplane
Project 12: Freight Train
Project 13: Passenger Train
Project 14: Cable Car
Project 15: Trolley Car
Project 16: Woodchuck Clock
Project 17: Math Balance Beam
Project 18: Fire Truck
Project 19: Vintage Truck
Project 20: Mary's Ferry Boat
Project 21: Four Ferry-Boat Vehicles
Project 22: U-Fly-It Plane

Sources of Supply
As an avid woodworker and father of three children, Ive been making wooden toys for more years than I care to remember. My early toys were a little crude, but as my woodworking skills and design sense developed three of my toys were accepted for a limited production run. One of the three won a Parents Choice Award, given by a publication dedicated to the promotion of toys that have high educational value. But the toy that really launched my toymaking career was the grasshopper, which is featured as the first project in this book. The exaggerated features, big colorful eyes and floppy antennae of this playful little critter caught the attention of some friends at a Connecticut library, who suggested that I start teaching toymaking to children. The classes were a great success with the kids, and ultimately brought the folks at Fine Woodworking magazine to my door. In essence, the grasshopper made this book possible.

Toys worth making are worth making well. What distinguishes the toys in this book from the run-of-the-mill offerings youll find at all too many toy stores is the high standard of craftsmanship and the quality of the materials used. In many cases, commercial toys are made with construction-grade lumber and painted in garish colors. My toys are made with select hardwoods and quality finishing materials that enhance the natural beauty of the wood (I use paint only sparingly to highlight the details). Theyre beautiful toys, but dont be fooled into thinking that they belong only on the display shelf. These are durable toys that are designed to be played with -- put any one of them in the hands of a child and youll quickly see that they have that irresistible, play-with-me appeal.

Although the projects in this book may appear simple because of their size, some of them can take as long to build as a piece of furniture. Many of the toys have over 50 pieces; the ferry boat (with its vehicles) has well over 100 parts. For the most part, Ive organized the projects from simple to complex, though Ive also tried to group the toys by type.

The projects represent various levels of difficulty, but all require strict attention to safety. Cutting and drilling small pieces can present serious safety hazards, and throughout the book Ive stressed the importance of using jigs, fixtures and safe practices to minimize the risk of injury.

Building safe toys
The safety of the toymaker is only one side of the story. The other side is the safety of the child playing with the toy. Safety should be the primary consideration when designing and building any toy for a child. To minimize the risk of injury, potentially hazardous hardware such as hooks should be avoided where possible; if you have to use them, dont conceal them, and try to position them so that they wont inflict any harm. For example, if youre using a hook and eyebolt to connect two train carriages, turn the hook portion downward. Similarly, on toys that will be played with by young children, round over sharp corners to reduce the risk of injury.

If youre making toys for young children, you can almost guarantee that the toy will find its way to the mouth at some point, so its important that the finish you use is safe. I use non-toxic finishes only -- which is not only safer for the child but also friendlier to the environment (and to your lungs).

Check toys periodically for loose parts.
This safety precaution is especially important if the toys are for children under the age of three. Legislative safety regulations help us make wise decisions when developing toys for young children, but ultimately its the parents obligation to teach safe play.

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