Wording With Purpose

Wooden Toy Figures

My wife (Shawn) and daughters (Amanda and Michelle) are the most creative people I know, and it is my privilege to enable that creativity in any way possible. Many projects begin with a sketch, a picture, or a paper model (see the Chicken Coop for an example). From there we discuss, brainstorm, modify, and derive a plan for turning the idea into a tangible object. I found this robot on Pinterest and loved the concept. The ladies agreed that Granddaughter Fern would enjoy such a toy.

I sketched a quick design and visited my local home center to acquire wood. All parts are stock dimensions (i.e. 1×2 is actually ¾ x 1½) with the exception of the soles of the feet. For those I chose hobby wood which is knot-free pine available in a variety of thicknesses. Avoid pressure treated lumber or any wood that splinters easily.

Click here for a neat Design Diagram. If you have questions, email me.

My shop scribbles

My characters are Klickety and Klack. Klickety is a curvaceous lady and uses the same-sized parts as Klack except for her body which is a 5” length of 2×4.

SecureLine nylon paracord (50’ x 5/32 inches) in blue/green connects the parts. Similar products may be found at most home centers or the same product can be ordered from Amazon using this link.

The cuts are straightforward. Drilling through the blocks is easy, too. Remember that diagonals from opposite corners of a rectangle or square meet at the center. Mark the spot and drill using a ¼” bit. My shop is equipped with a drill press, but I’ve done my share of hand drilling, too. Make sure the drill is straight, or drill a little from each end and hope the holes meet in the middle.

X marks the spot to drill

Drilling through the body is easier with a longer bit. I had a 16” long bit from an old landline wiring project which popped right through.

Last I drilled a ¾” hole ¾” deep in the base of the body to recess the bottom knot.

Since a crawler/toddler will be playing with the toy I opted to glue the feet together rather than use a trim gun and nails.

Poke around your shop and check your scrap pile. Your design is your design so jump in and let the creative juices flow.

Finish is a concern as paint or sealants may be harmful if taken internally (likely outcome with a teething child). After much research I learned that many craftsmen use brands of acrylic paint that are certified as non-toxic. Michael’s craft store offers the Artist’s Loft brand which declares itself to be safe. I chose a basic set with the primary colors.

Legal disclaimer: I am in no way declaring that your child will be unharmed by chewing on this toy or by ingesting non-toxic acrylic paint. Deciding on a safe finish is a joint agreement for you and the child’s mother to make, OK?

I can’t say enough good things about having Elves on staff to take the bare toys and make them come to life.

Michelle mixed a palette for Klack.

Shawn created a feminine motive for Klickety.

Cheaper labor available in far off places like the North Pole will prevent us from opening a store anytime soon, but the ladies had a blast listening to Christmas music and catching up while they worked.

Fondue sticks helped push the rope through the various parts. I was told that next time I need to clean the sawdust out of the holes before submitting the parts to the art department.

Klack comes to life. When Fern opened the package Christmas afternoon her mom’s first comment was, “Look, Fern, it’s Grandpa!”

Nice. Was that planned, Michelle?

Klickety is ready to clog.

Bam! Now that’s what I’m talking about. Thanks, Shawn and Michelle, for your creative assistants in placing clothes on my naked toys.

As the project wrapped Shawn and Michelle swapped ideas for other figures—rabbits, frogs, giraffes, elephants—that might be easily created using this technique.

The best projects end with a list of ideas for new projects, right?

Creative people are never bored.