Toy trains have almost become as much a symbol of Christmas time as reindeer, snowflakes, and hot chocolate. Almost every Christmas movie ever made features the heartwarming shot of a beutifully decorated Christmas tree with an enourmous pile of presents piled under it, and a toy train circling the perimeter.
Another gift that people love to give and recieve are the homemade variety. In some households these handmade presents become wooden heirlooms that are handed down from one generation to the next.
Designing and making a wooden toy train is a wonderful way to combine two traditions.
Your going to have to decide what kind of assembly process your going to use for your wooden train project.
A dowel assembly system is the process of using wooden nails and non-toxic glue to hold the peices of wood together. The upside to a using a dowel assembly is that it maintains the purity of the wood. The downside to the system is that regular wear and tear along with changes in weather cause wood to shrink and you will have to periodically have to reglue the wooden train.
Many inexperinced woodworkers opt to use nails to hold the peices of wood together. Although experinced woodworkers frown on this method there is nothing wrong with using nails provided you make sure that there aren’t any sharp edges.
Screws are a secure way to fasten the peices of wood together. If this is the method you prefer make sure that the wooden train is periodically examined to make sure that none of the screws have worked thier way loose.
The use of a good strong glue is especally secure. It is also a safe way to create a toy that you are planning to give to a young child. Check the toy from time to time to make sure that the glue is staying stuck. When handleing strong woodworking glue be sure to take precautions, you don’t want to have your hand permenatly stuck to a wooden train.
What type of wood you are going to use? Hardwood or softwood? The first thing you should know is that just because they are called hardwood and softwood does not mean that the wood you will be using is hard or soft, all the terns do is clarify wether or not they are from coniferous or desidous trees Softwood is descious, it comes from Pine trees. Hardwood is coniferous it comes from trees that shed thier leaves everyfall. You should avoid using Ceder, unless it is really well maintained it can splinter.
If you are giving the toy to a young child (one who sticks everything in their mouth) avoid the use of Oak, which is toxic when ingested. If you are considering an exotic hardwood check and make sure it isn’t a toxic wood. The wood you are using should be planed into peices of wood that wont break easily, the thicker the wood the less likly it will be to break in the middle of your project. Bear in mind, not all types of wood absorb stains. When you are staining the wood make sure you are using a non-toxic stain that is childsafe.
Find a set of instructions that are easy to follow. Keep them in a safe place where they wont get lost and adhere to them.
Leave yourself plenty of time. Building a wooden train could be a much larger, and more difficult project then you anticipate.
Once you become adept at making wooden trains, you may want to try your hand at creating miniture wooden structues for classic toy train layouts, and garden railroads.