How to Make Moving Toys

Written by will milner
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How to Make Moving Toys
Marionettes can be complex or quite simple. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Children don't need much to create a fully immersed imaginary world for themselves. A simple toy and some time is generally all it takes. It's nice if this toy can do one or two things; e.g., if a car can zoom forward or a figure can perform an action. Do not trouble yourself with trying to make it too realistic or powerful, but do try to make it as sturdy as possible or the toy will quickly get destroyed by overly enthusiastic play.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Wood
  • Wood-carving knife
  • Eyelet screws
  • Drill
  • Pliers
  • String
  • Paints
  • Saw
  • Metal rod
  • Wind-up spring
  • Glue

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  1. 1

    Cut shapes from wood for the body, legs, feet, arms, hands and head. A ball for the head and cylinders for everything else are fine for this. Make the arms and legs in two sections. Paint the sections.

  2. 2

    Screw eyelet screws into the end of each section. Join each section to the others in the appropriate way; i.e., the hands to the forearms, forearms to upper arms, etc. To join the sections, pull the eyelets open with pliers, hook them together and squeeze them closed again.

  3. 3

    Tie a string from each wrist, the front of the head and the back of hips. Make a cross from wood. Tie the wrist strings to each end of the horizontal piece, the front of the head to the top of the vertical piece and the hips to the bottom.

  4. 4

    Tension all the strings so that, with the cross flat, the puppet hangs in a natural position. Move the cross to produce movements in the puppet.

    Moving Vehicle

  1. 1

    Make a flat, rectangular base of wood and screw an eyelet screw into each corner. These will hold the axle, so they should stand up from the base. The holes should be facing each other so an axle can be slid into each pair.

  2. 2

    Use metal rods thin enough to slide through the eyelets to serve as axles. Cut them just longer than the width of the wooden base. Cut a long, thin, rectangular-sided block and drill a hole through it lengthways. Slide an axle through this block. Slip the axles through the eyelets.

  3. 3

    Cut out some wheels from wood. Drill holes in the centres. Press the axles into the holes and glue in place.

  4. 4

    Attach one end of the rubber band to the board near the axle and the other end to the thin block on the axle. Roll the base along the floor. The axle will turn and wrap the elastic band around itself. Pull it tight and let it go. It will turn so the axle unwinds the rubber band.

  5. 5

    Carve a car, train or other shape from wood. Paint it and stick it onto the base.

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