As nature lets trees grow and develop in different ways from the effects of moisture, sunlight and soil, so do my toys. While using one type of wood might save time, using a blend of up to fifteen different species gives each toy its own distinct look and color. Using no stain and only a clear finish allows the wood’s natural beauty to show through and make each item unique. In all my work I strive to reflect the motto that “Quality is Job 1.”
I’m a big kid at heart and love making toys for young and old alike. In high school I took an industrial arts class and after graduation I bought tools and equipment for woodworking. In 1976, for my sons first birthday, I bought a train plan and made him a wooden train, which he still has. Now I have a young grandson and just made him a train set with his name on it for his first birthday. With a new granddaughter I may have to start on a doll house next. Since I retired, I have more time to make toys.
Wood has always fascinated me. It’s a renewable resource and comes in all colors and grain types thusly giving each piece a character of its own. All of my projects start with me buying rough sawn dried lumber, planing the lumber and then cutting to sizes needed. Everything has a plan and rough notes for construction in case I do not remember the correct steps to assemble things. I draw the pieces onto the lumber and proceed by cutting out the various pieces, then sand the parts that may need assembly before gluing together. After assembly, the entire piece is sanded again so that there are no sharp edges or splinters remaining, then begins the finishing process with nontoxic finishes. The entire piece gets sanded again after the first coat is applied. After sufficient drying time, the toys are assembled. For example, wheels or eyes are attached if needed.
I have read many books and magazines on woodworking and individual aspects (such as finishing) to pick up any tips I can use. I always like to talk to other woodworkers and get ideas from them as well. Many things I learned have been by trial and error and these seem to stick with me the most vividly, because my wife says I am a perfectionist. I believe if it is worth doing, it is worth doing my best, even if it means making a lot of scrap.