Making Wooden Toys

In the woodworking industry the router has proved itself to be the ideal tool for batch production work. But, it is not only in the professional market that it can lend a hand in saving woodworkers both time and effort.

For the home craftsperson or the small craft workshop, the router offers versatility second to no other power tool. Combined with the vast range of intricately shaped cutters now available, the routing concept requires only a little imagination and innovation to turn a two dimensional profile into a three dimensional object. Good examples of this method of production on a small scale are my toys by the ‘metre’. Toy cars, lorries and trees, as pictured here can all be simply and quickly produced by this method, along with other similar outline designs such as buildings, boats and animals. Each is cut with one or a combination of basic cutter profiles, machining along the length of the timber ready for crosscutting to separate each individual item. A router table is essential for this work, both for safety and accuracy. For cutting some of the profiles a router of at least 900 watts will be needed, while the larger radius cutter will require a 1/2 inch shank capacity. You will probably find that many interesting shapes can be made up using your existing cutters. Alternatively, refer to the new Trend 1998/9 catalogue to trace out various profiles and make up your own combinations before purchasing your cutters. Remember that having machined the cutter profiles on the timber length, a little final shaping to smooth in curves or remove sharp corners can be quickly and easily achieved using simple hand tools. Likewise cutter profiles can be joined or married up smoothly in a similar fashion. One important point to bear in mind is that the timber should first be prepared by planing it straight and true and that excess waste timber should be removed by cutting rebates and grooves, leaving only the final shaping to be carried out with the selected cutters.

When making cars and lorries, first form rebates along the bottom edges of the strip and cut a groove along the centre of the bottom face leaving two square beads to be machined to the wheel profiles. Large areas of waste such as on the flat back lorry can be sawn on a table saw. The saw table can also be used to cut angled surfaces for house roofs and other wide flat surfaces. Not all the cuts will be able to be made by simply running the square edges of the timber against the router table or fence. It may be necessary to make up support blocks or jigs to be able to present the work to the cutter at different angles or to keep it level while machining.

Another alternative when forming the basic profile is to machine different shaped sections of timber and glue them together in a long length. This can produce attractive effects when using contrasting timbers and finishing with clear lacquers or varnishes. A circular saw or band saw fitted with a fine tooth blade is best for separating the profile sections using the table fence to determine their width. Alternatively use a fine tooth handsaw, taking care to cut the sides square and parallel.

If you keep your cutters well honed (do it regularly on a diamond stone), you will only need to lightly sand the machined surfaces before applying a finish. In order to sand the sides, stick a piece of abrasive paper to a flat surface with double sided tape and rub the faces over it, keeping them flat to the surface.

Always use close grained woods such as Beech. However, for a more decorative effect use combinations of light and dark woods, such as holly, maple, mahogany and cherry, but again avoid woolly or coarse grained varieties. For children’s toys, bright coloured stains or varnishes can be applied, but as with all paints and other finishes only use those that are non-toxic and stated to be safe for children. IP Professional Door Fitting This video, one of a series featuring Trend jigs and equipment for the router, explains how the Hinge Jig and other unique accessories assist the carpenter to fit doors with maximum ease and efficiency. Ref TV/5 Affordable CNC Routing This video demonstrates the range of applications which can be carried out using the CNC860 together with complimentary products such as software, jig-making accessories and tooling. Ref TV/6 by Gordon Warr The Trend Routing System This video looks at the two routers, the T5 and T9, together with the MINIMACH vacuum clamping system and the DJ300 Dovetail Jig. It shows how to use these and other products to accomplish many woodworking tasks.