Make handmade toys for baby easily out of wood! Even if you've never done any woodworking before you can make this simple birdie toy. This small birdie is the perfect size for a baby to grasp and bang against other toys. Leave it natural and it could be used as a teether...but please make sure you are using woods that are safe for teethers.
My one year old picks his birdies up and says "tweet! tweet!" and pretends to fly them around. As he gets older I know that more elaborate pretend scenarios will arise from the wooden toys I've made him.
Here is a scroll saw toy making video I made for Mothering.com's Natural Toys Webinar in 2008. It also includes info about paint and non-toxic sealers. (I've also sold toys as Woodmouse on Etsy since 2007. Yep! Same person!)
Wood - 1 inch thick wood board (which will actually be 3/4 inch thick). A good size to start with is 4" - 6" wide by 12" long. Beginners should use pine because it cuts easier and is the cheapest. Pine (a softwood) is ideal if you will be using a coping saw because it will be much faster to cut. Check what hardwoods are available in your area as prices will vary greatly. I use poplar, beech, cherry, maple and douglas fir. The birdie in these instructions was made of poplar. If you plan to use a coping saw, use pine or another soft wood.
Scroll Saw or Coping Saw - If you can operate a sewing machine you can operate a scroll saw! It really has the same feel, only where a sewing machine attaches a scroll saw cuts apart. The instructions shown are for a scroll saw, but If you don't have access to a scroll saw a coping saw is a much more affordable option. A coping saw is a handheld saw that does the same thing...only you have to do the work! I suggest starting with pine if you will be using a coping saw.
Sandpaper - You'll need medium grade (100) for sanding edges and a fine grade (220) for finishing. YOu may also use sanding drums with a rotary tool to save time on the edges.
Optional Paint/Sealers - You can leave your birdie all natural, paint it or seal it using a variety of methods. Please read the instructions below for natural and baby safe finishing option ideas and tips.
Wooden Birdie Toy Instructions:
Print out and cut out your birdie template and trace onto your wood with a pencil. Use a pencil so that you can erase the lines when you are finished, in case you cut out of the lines. Click here to download the free Bird Toy Pattern PDF that you can print out and use as a template, or draw your own.
Cut out along the pencil lines using your scroll saw or coping saw. Try to stay directly on the pencil lines but don't worry if you veer off a bit. Take it slow and know that you can always stop and adjust. If you are using a coping saw I find it easiest to clamp the wood down to my work table so I can have both hands free for guiding the coping saw. Then remove your wooden birdie shape. See, isn't making handmade toys fun?
Now sand all the sharp edges down so they are rounded using the medium grade sandpaper and then finish by sanding the entire bird with the fine grade sandpaper. It is very important that you sand down any rough or sharp edges when making handmade toys for babies so take the extra time here to make it nice and smooth.
You can also use a rotary tool with a sander attachment to further shape and round the edges even faster! You will still need to hand sand with the fine grit sandpaper after using your rotary tool on the edges though to get a truly smooth finish.
Now your bird is finished! You can leave all natural or seal the wood with a natural, childsafe wood sealer. Check out this list of Natural Wood Finishes for Handmade Toys for some ideas. If you want color, you can even paint the birdie with non-toxic paint! Here are non-toxic paint options to consider. Make several in a rainbow of colors!
Once you master this simple technique you can branch out and create more animal shapes! These birds are the very first thing I learned to make and it opened up a whole new world of handmade toys for me. Enjoy!