How to Make Model Cars Out of Wood

Written by heidi wiesenfelder
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How to Make Model Cars Out of Wood
Wood car by Harry Wiesenfelder (Photo by Heidi Wiesenfelder, Photo by Heidi Wiesenfelder)

Whether you want to make wooden cars for children or as decorative items, all you need are some basic woodworking tools and techniques. Keep it simple, using designs that don't have lots of moving parts and don't require specialised tools and skills. Young children are happy with a simple wood car that has moving wheels, especially if they can decorate it themselves.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Wood
  • Bandsaw, jigsaw or coping saw
  • Sandpaper, 40-grit
  • Drillpress with spade bit (optional)
  • Hole saw (optional)
  • Router (optional)
  • Drywall screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Wood stain and seal (optional)

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  1. 1

    Create a design for your car. You can find templates in magazines such as "Wood" and "Woodcraft." Or you can trace a picture of a car from any magazine or photograph. Again, keep it simple. The convertible shown here does not even require any windows.

    How to Make Model Cars Out of Wood
    Wood car by Harry Wiesenfelder
  2. 2

    Select your wood stock. Because 2-by-4s are widely available and inexpensive, you may want to start with those. Or try a nice piece of walnut, maple, or any wood with an appearance you like.

  3. 3

    Draw the outline of your design on the piece of wood.

  4. 4

    Cut the basic car body shape from the wood using a bandsaw, a jigsaw, or even a hand-held coping saw.

  5. 5

    Sand the cut surface of the car with 40-grit sandpaper until it is smooth to the touch.

  6. 6

    Create the windows, if your design includes them. Round windows are the easiest to produce and can be cut using a spade bit on a drill press. Sand the cut surface to make it smooth.

  7. 7

    Create the wheels. Children are more likely to find a toy car interesting if it has wheels that move. Use a hole saw to cut wheels of the proper size. Use a router to make them fancier if you are creating a car for decorative purposes rather than for children. Sand them to make sure they are smooth.

  8. 8

    Drill a hole in the middle of each wheel. Also drill holes on the car body where the wheels will be attached. Attach them using drywall screws and a screwdriver. Make sure to get a tight fit so the screws won't come loose and become a hazard for children or pets.

  9. 9

    Finish the car with a stain and seal if it is a decorative item. If it's for a child, consider leaving it plain so he can customise it with paint or stickers.

Tips and warnings

  • If you are making several cars of the same design, use an assembly process. First do all the drawing, then all the outline cutting, then all the windows, and then all the wheels. This is generally faster than working on each car separately.
  • Consider buying premade wheels, so you can focus on an attractive car design. Check your local crafts store or watch for ads in woodworking magazines.
  • Use wooden dowels and glue to attach wheels for a nicer-looking finished product.
  • Always use proper precautions when working with power tools and cutting implements. If you are not familiar with their use, work with someone who is knowledgeable about them.

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