Wooden Toy Plane

A little wooden aeroplane toy made from recycled hardwood, and scrap pine. My young son pulled a book off my shelf the other day and wouldn’t you know it, it was a book on wooden toys! I didn’t much care for most of the designs, but there was one aeroplane I thought looked pretty nice so I took that as a sign to get off my bum and get back into the shed 🙂

The original design was really quite huge from my perspective, so I photocopied the templates to half the intended scale (ending up about 25 cm wingspan). I dug out some scrap wood and glued the templates on, then off to the bandsaw I went.  I used a darker hardwood for the smaller parts and wings, and pine for the main body. (The model is based roughly on the “Piper Cub” aircraft; an old US plane from the 1940s/50s).

Bandsaw cutting the main pieces. Really need a smaller blade to handle the tighter corners.

The templates were pretty useful for the main parts, though I did find myself adjusting a few things as I found the ratios of the design didn’t look right to me. Still, templates were a big time saver. 

Sanding and tweaking sizes
Major parts basically done and I was quite happy with the general look and contrasting colours

Next came the tricky bit, drilling series of holes off at some angles to take the very thin dowel I would use for the shafts and struts. I really need to get some bradpoint drill bits as this was really quite hard to do accurately with normal drills wondering off centre very easily. It took me a good hour just messing about with the best way to hold the parts, and doing some test drilling  in scraps before using the real parts.

Compound angles were a little tricky. Using some blocks, set square, and clamps I got it done.

So far so good. 

The smaller the parts the longer they seem to take. At this point I appreciated that there was perhaps some wisdom in making this at full scale as all the parts would be larger and so easier to handle. Still, no regrets, as I was really happy with how everything was looking.  This last stage must have taken as much as 3 hours which seems so crazy. There were small end caps to retain the propeller and wheels; and the wheels and and wing struts.

Wheels rough cut on the bandsaw, then properly rounded using the drill press. Works a treat.
All parts finished and ready to go.

I pre-sanded all the parts by hand to 240 grit, then glued everything in place. Taking quite a bit of care to avoid glue marks so I wouldn’t have to touch up the sanding too much. I used the simple trick of rubbing fine sawdust over any glue squeeze out to mop it up. Works a treat plus it fills up any minor gaps.

And at last it was time for a finish. I went for some “Scandinavian Teak Oil” I’ve had for years, which, being an oil and varnish mix, gave the contrast a nice kick and added a little extra protection.

A wipe on coat of teak oil finished off this fun project

Done and dusted. I really hope this toy lasts the test of time as I’m pretty proud of how it came out. Even if my son never plays with it, making a toy like this has been a decent project. There are a surprising number of different tools and techniques needed for toy making so it’s a good skill builder. Plus hell, I like the thing, so if my boy doesn’t want it, it can sit on my desk at work 🙂

The finished product

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