As early as the 1700s, toymakers in Germany were making wooden toys for the public. It wasn't until after World War II that plastic was introduced into the toy industry and wooden toys became less prominent. Today, wooden toys are still popular for pull toys, doll houses and chess games. Many of the wooden toy trains of the past have become collector items. As today's children grow up with elaborate electronic games, toddlers will still get enjoyment from wooden toy cars, trains, and buses.
Using the skill saw, cut a 3/8-inch thick piece of plywood 12 inches long by 4 inches wide. Cut 1/2-inch deep and 1-inch wide arches in each corner for the wheel wells and position them so that the wheels will be 6 inches apart and the back wheels will be 3 inches from the back of the bus.
Cut two pieces of 1/4-inch plywood 2 1/2 inches wide and 12 inches long for the sides of the bus. Cut two 1/2-inch deep and 1-inch wide arches in each piece for the wheel wells. For windows, use a jigsaw to cut out 1/2-inch by 1/2-inch squares along each piece.
Use a four-inch by four-inch block of wood for the front of the bus and, using a jigsaw, cut holes for a window on both sides. Trim out a square for the door on one side 1/2-inch deep that can be painted to look like a real door.
Use a 1-inch by 4-inch block for the back of the bus.
For the top of the bus, cut a 17-inch long by 4-inch wide piece of 5/8-inch plywood.
Using wood glue, glue the sides to the bottom and let dry. With wood screws, fasten each wheel in each wheel well to the 3/8-inch bottom.
Glue the front and back of the bus to the ends of the sides. At this point, the bus should be 17 inches long.
Glue the top of the bus to the sides, the back, and the front of the bus. The front and back of the bus should fit under the top.
Use a sander to shape a curve in the back and the front of the bus. Sand all edges smooth.
For extra strength, use wood screws to attach the sides, top, and bottom to the front and back of the bus. Use a wood punch to countersink each screw and fill the holes with wood putty. Use the type of putty that will hold paint.
Use the ends of 2 round-tipped dowels for headlamps and glue to the front of the bus.
Paint the bus a bright colour or paint it in colours to match a school or metro bus.
Wooden wheels can be purchased at most hobby stores or online. If you have a wood lathe, you can also make wheels from 1-inch dowel pins or cut them out of plywood with a jigsaw or router. Save wood scraps from projects that you do. Wood scraps can sometimes be turned into wonderful wooden toys. Scraps are also easier to work with than large sheets of plywood.
If you are sharing this project with a child, be sure to use extra care with the power tools. Watch cords and be sure to unplug the tools when not in use. Wear safety glasses. When sanding, wear a mask.