How to Make a Wooden Pull Toy

Although making your own wooden pull toy will require skills above novice wood worker, with the proper tools, this is a moderately easy project. These instructions are for creating a train pull toy with each car having a letter of your child's name.

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Scroll saw and #5 reverse tooth blade
  • Drill
  • Drill bits (1/8 inches, 1/4 inches and 9/32 inches)
  • Awl
  • Scrap wood (each car is 3/4 inches by 3-1/2 inches by 4 inches)
  • Wooden wheels (4/car) 1 inches diameter x 3/8 inches wide (can be cut from 1 inches dowel)
  • 1/4 inches diameter by 2 1/8 inches long dowels (axels at 2/car)
  • 5/8 inches diameter by 1/4 inches wide spacers (4/car - can be cut from 5/8 inches dowel)
  • Small eye screws (2/car)
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Clean rags
  • Acrylic craft paints (non-toxic)
  • Matte spray finish
  • Spray temporary adhesive
  • Tack cloth

Step 1 - Select Wood

Choose wood that is free of defects and large knots. Each ‘car’ for this pull toy is cut from a block sized 3/4 inches by 3-1/2 inches by 4 inches. Choose your design and create a paper pattern. Assembly is the same regardless of pattern. Assume 1 car for each letter of your child’s name plus the engine (if child’s name has 4 letters, you will need material for 4 letters + 1 engine = 5 total cars). Using temporary spray adhesive, coat the paper pattern (not the wood block) and stick the patterns to wood blocks.

Step 2 - Drilling Wheels, Spacers and Pilot Holes for Scroll Saw

To cut interior patterns, drill 1/8 inches hole to thread scroll saw blade through. Drill 9/32 inches holes (2/block) for front and back axels on each block. Drill 9/32 inches hole through center of each spacer (4/car). Using the 1/4 inches bit, drill holes through center of wheels (4/car) for the pull toy.

Step 3 - Cut Patterns

Make all interior cuts of each pattern piece. Using the #5 reverse tooth blade, thread it through the pilot holes drilled for interior cuts in Step 2. Complete all interior cuts on all pieces. Finish each car by cutting the exterior (outside) shapes.

Step 4 - Finish Pieces

With 220-grit sandpaper, sand all pieces smooth. Wipe all sawdust off pieces with tack cloth. Paint with non-toxic acrylic craft paints as desired. Allow paint to dry thoroughly. Coat each piece with spray matte finish (use only non-toxic finishes).

Step 5 - Assemble Cars

To assemble the train pull toy, you will need to place eye screws as couplings. To determine how many eye screws are required, count the number of cars, multiply by 2 and subtract 1 (our example is 5 cars, therefore, 5 x 2 = 10, 10 - 1 = 9 eye screws). Every car but the last one will have 1 eye screw on the front and one on the back. Use the eye screw on the front car to attach the pull cord. To attach the eye screws, first make an indentation using the awl in the center of the front and back of each car (only the front on last car). Pine is soft enough you should be able to screw the eyes in by hand. Using the awl, pry open the eyes as required to attach the cars to each other.

Hint: if you have trouble screwing in the eyes, put the awl into the eye and use as a lever. Attach pull cord to front eye with a half-hitch knot (a granny knot will do) of the pull toy.