Wooden Toy Cars

When I was a young child I remember playing for hours on end with a wooden car my dad made me for my birthday. It was a simple toy which I loved dearly, however it wasn’t without flaws. Firstly, it didn’t really resemble a real car, and secondly, since dad used whatever he had on hand to build it, there were some small issues like wheels jamming up because the screw holding them in place rusted over time, and the paint he used on it was more than likely not child safe – this was the 1980’s after all.

Now since I got into woodwork, I’ve been meaning to build some wooden toy cars with the hope of bringing joy to some little kid somewhere, however this time I was going to use child-safe paint and no metal parts on the car at all.

So I did some research and came across a website which sells plans for wooden toys – www.toymakingplans.com, and I found plans for a cool looking 1957 Corvette which I knew I had to get. The plans were quite straight forward and easy to follow, so I got building.

Since I was planning on making a few of these wooden toy cars, I decided to make a template of the required pieces first so that I could use them for tracing the shape and then flush cutting with the router. Once this was done I found a few straight boards of decent looking pine and started laying out the pattern. I then rough cut them at the bandsaw without worrying too much about how close to the line I was. I was going to be using my router flush cut bit to clean them up later.

Outline of car sides

Outline of the car’s side on a piece of pine

Car parts roughly cut out

Car parts roughly cut out on the bandsaw

The car was built by layering identical cuts together, so in my case I decided to go with three pieces of 18mm thick pine for the middle of the car, and 2 pieces of 15mm pine for the sides.

Stacked cut outs

Rough cut out parts stacked together

Rough cut out parts stacked together

Rough cut out parts stacked together

Now that I had all the pieces rough cut I stuck each piece to my template and cleaned up the edges with the router. This was a dusty job and it took a while too since I was building eight cars at once. However it is still much easier to do it this way than to try and follow the pattern on the bandsaw or scroll saw.

Glued Up Car Body

Glued and cleaned up car body

Car side cleaned up

Car side cleaned up

Car parts cleaned up and stacked

Car parts cleaned up and stacked

The next step was to make the wheels, all 32 of them. I decided to cut them using a hole saw which attached to the drill press, however I knew my cheap hole saw was not up to the task of cutting 32 wheels out of red oak, so I decided purchase a proper hole saw and I went with a 40mm hole saw by Sutton Tools. This worked flawlessly and cut the wheels in a few minutes.

Wooden Wheel Cut Outs

Made a lot of wheels

Rough wooden wheels

A pile of freshly cut out wooden wheels

The freshly cut wheels had very sharp edges and needed to be rounded over and smoothened with sandpaper, so I tapped each wheel with an 8mm thread and screwed them onto a bolt which I then could mount in the drill press and sand the wheels down that way. I don’t have a lathe so this was the quickest method I could come up with at the time, and it worked.

Wooden wheel before and after cleaning up

Wooden wheel before and after cleaning up

Stack of wooden wheels

A stack of sanded wooden wheels

Now that I had all my wheels made, I could figure out exactly where to drill for the axles and then glue on the car’s sides.

Car body with wheels attached

Car body with wheels temporarily attached

Toy car glue up

Gluing up our toy car

Toy wooden car

Our wooden toy car is assembled

The next step was to paint the wooden toy cars. I decided to go with White Knight Splashes water based paints because when cured the paint is non-toxic and conforms to Australian Standard 1647.3 Children’s Toys Safety Requirements. I gave all the cars a coat of white primer and then proceeded with spray painting them all in different colours.

Priming the toy cars

Priming the toy cars with an air brush

Painted toy car wheels

Painted toy car wheels

Painting the wooden toy cars

Painting the toy cars

Once the paint dried I glued the wheels onto each car’s axle and they were done.

Wooden Toy Cars

The finished toy cars

For more pictures of the finished cars check out the photo gallery.

David Azzopardi

Owner of The Warawood Shed, woodworker, and computer software engineer.

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3 Responses

  1. Saani Bennetts says:

    Wow, so interesting to see how these are made. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Bruno says:

    Is it possible to get the jig of the 2 pieces or the lenght of it
    It’s vert Nice
    Thank you

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