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A_Very_Huckleberry

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Reply with quote  #1 

Hello to you all! This is my first forum and my first post, so thank you for your patience. [wink]

 

I'm a new toymaker and I have been making teethers out of oak. Oak is a little spendy and it takes a lot of time to finish nicely. I'd like to get into some other hardwoods (namely maple) but I am not sure where to find it.

My shop is branching out this year to include toys that are NOT for babies, like little rolling vehicles/animals, small figurines, toy cameras, etc.

I'd love to hear what you all like to use and, most importantly, where you find it! I'm loathe to use pine, but I did find a yellow pine supplier that tried to convince me it was suitable. Thoughts?

Your humble servant,
Huckleberry

BadBob

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I think pine is tough to work with and produces inferior toys. The combination of hard and soft grain makes it difficult to get smooth cuts. A smooth surface is hard to achieve when sanding. Hight resin content gums up you cutting tools and clogs sand paper. Tear out is a particular problem when building with pine. I've seen some that was so bad to tear out that I could not drill a smooth hole with the sharpest of drills. It sucks up finishes like a sponge. One coat coverage isn't going to happen unless you OK with the rough surface produced by all of the fuzzies.  The only thing I've seen worse to finish is MDF. Pine can be beautiful but you have to work at it. It's cheap and available just about everywhere.

Most of my experience using pine is with construction lumber. It's easy to get and I always have some laying around from other projects. I'm trying to get away from it.

I like working with Oak. It is hard, finishes well, looks good, and cuts well. On a good day I can cut oak so smooth with a scrollsaw that it is shiny. It is hard to sand but it doesn't gum up my tools and sand paper like pine.

For toy making my favourite is poplar. Some people don't like the colors you see in poplar. It cuts easy and smooth. Sands well and takes any finish I have tried on it. You can get a glassy smooth finish on poplar fairly easy.

I've not used any other hardwoods for toys but I expect them all to be better than pine. They are not readily available in my area.

I'm not convinced that the additional expense for using hardwoods is a valid concern. This is especially true for making small toys. By my calculations today red oak is selling at home depot for $8.44 a board foot for S4S premium boards. No knots. You can make a lot of play pals from a board foot. If you can get ten out of it it costs 84 cents to make one. If you can get 20 it costs 42 cents. If I make it out of pine the material cost goes way down but there is more labor/time involved, it consumes more finish and it gums up sand paper. Then there is the additional maintenance cost incurred cleaning gummed up tools etc.
I think pine is tough to work with and produces inferior toys. The combination of hard and soft grain makes it difficult to get smooth cuts. A smooth surface is hard to achieve when sanding. Hight resin content gums up you cutting tools and clogs sand paper. Tear out is a particular problem when building with pine. I've seen some that was so bad to tear out that I could not drill a smooth hole with the sharpest of drills. It sucks up finishes like a sponge. One coat coverage isn't going to happen unless you OK with the rough surface produced by all of the fuzzies.  The only thing I've seen worse to finish is MDF. Pine can be beautiful but you have to work at it. It's cheap and available just about everywhere.

Most of my experience using pine is with construction lumber. It's easy to get and I always have some laying around from other projects. I'm trying to get away from it.

I like working with Oak. It is hard, finishes well, looks good, and cuts well. On a good day I can cut oak so smooth with a scrollsaw that it is shiny. It is hard to sand but it doesn't gum up my tools and sand paper like pine.

For toy making my favourite is poplar. Some people don't like the colors you see in poplar. It cuts easy and smooth. Sands well and takes any finish I have tried on it. You can get a glassy smooth finish on poplar fairly easy.

I've not used any other hardwoods for toys but I expect them all to be better than pine. They are not readily available in my area.

I'm not convinced that the additional expense for using hardwoods is a valid concern. This is especially true for making small toys. By my calculations today red oak is selling at home depot for $8.44 a board foot for S4S premium boards. No knots. You can make a lot of play pals from a board foot. If you can get ten out of it it costs 84 cents to make one. If you can get 20 it costs 42 cents. If I make it out of pine the material cost goes way down but there is more labor/time involved, it consumes more finish and it gums up sand paper. Then there is the additional maintenance cost incurred cleaning gummed up tools etc. I'm assuming that you are interested in producing quality toys.

Where I live hardwood suppliers are hard to find. The nearest I have been able to locate is a 125 mile drive and its a sawmill with limited selection. So I either have to buy the super expensive wood from the local big box stores or order it from some where and have it shipped in. Recently I have found the Steve Wall Lumber Company that has 20 board foot bundles of shorts in a lot of hardwood varieties.  These can be shipped by normal ground shipping and should be ideal for toy making. They will plane both sides for you for a small fee so you get S2S lumber and can sand or rip straight on one edge if desired. I calculated that the 20% reduction in weight would likely make up the difference in shipping cost savings. Not to mention that I would not have to do it.

I'm going to order wood from Steve Wall soon.



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A_Very_Huckleberry

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Reply with quote  #3 

Thank you! I haven't tried pine because it wouldn't be hard enough to be used safely for a teether, but all those issues will serve to keep me away from it! 

I get great cuts with the oak. Maybe I will just stick with it! And on your recommendation I grabbed a bit of poplar today to try it out. 

I'm relieved that I'm not "missing something" and that you use the same kinds of wood that I have available to me. 

I am going to take a look at Steve Wall Lumber Co, too, just in case I want to try out any more "exotic" woods.

Your etsy shop looks awesome, by the way! If I give up on rolling toys, I know where to find some. [smile] 

BadBob

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Quote:
Originally Posted by A_Very_Huckleberry
Your etsy shop looks awesome, by the way! If I give up on rolling toys, I know where to find some. [smile] 


Thank you. I'm working hard at it. I'm not selling much which is not unusual for a beginner. However, I did make some sales the first month which is unusual. Some people wait several months for their first sale. "They" act like you just open up your shop and the sales just start rolling in. It ain't so. Like any business its hard work. I'm hopeful it will be profitable.

You might want to try hard maple for teethers. It doesn't have the big pores like oak.


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PaPa Jack

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Reply with quote  #5 
Ok here is the other approach. Since I am a beginner I can only tell you what I have found. I use "white" pine NOT yellow pine. I make 20-25 toys a week. They are meant to play with - not heirlooms. Sanded smooth. Also like popular for my dinosaur train. Like the black and green look for animals. I also use western red cedar, popular, and basically any woods I can find as scraps. Like to mix colored woods on white pine. All my toys are sanded smooth and oiled with toy oil. I do not paint or use glossy finishes. Time thing with me. I make toys to "sell" and play with. Nothing so detailed the you would put on shelve.
I get 90% of my wood at Home Depot in the "cull bin". It is 70% OFF. Yesterday I got 6 2x4 10' long for 4.00! Makes about 8 trains! I cut around any bad nots or very dark gummy sections. So far I do well at shows and festivals. No so at Etsy or my web site.
The wood that I LOVE to use I occasionally get at a pattern shop if you can find one it is soft , sands beautifully and very light. Has tiny specks in it. I can never remember name of wood! They also use a lot of popular. They usually give it away since they burn it?

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BadBob

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Reply with quote  #6 
Currently I use mostly cull lumber and reclaimed wood. Because that is what is available and I'm experimenting with materials. I can afford to to that because I am fully employed.

If you talk to someone who works at a large lumber supplier you will find that the best grades of lumber get bought up by companies and what trickles down to retail stores are the left overs. Why do they do this? Because its cheaper to use the best quality lumber than it is pay someone to work around the defects. As a business you have to count every cost.

For example:

MDF is cheap. As close to free if you get it from the cull bin like I did. MDF makes a huge mess with very fine dust everywhere. Cleaning up after working with MDF is a big chore. This is a cost. Maybe more expensive than the material. MDF takes way more time to finish and more finish than wood because it soaks up finish like a sponge and has to be sanded and recoated multiple times before you get a good finish. When you add it all up making toys from MDF may not be cheaper then making them from wood.

Why am I making toys from MDF? I got a bunch of it nearly free and at the time there was some discussion on the board about whether it was a suitable material for toy making. I decided to find out for myself. For me the answer is no.    

Cull lumber. I use it. Why? Because I drive right by Home Depot at least once a week? I would never drive there to check the bin. But if I'm there I look. It's hit or miss I'm pretty sure that if I factored in my time I spent I would loose money. I get something worth carrying off maybe once out of every 10 tries.
I did score a stack of 1x12s once that only had minor damage. My experimentation with MDF started when I found a large pile of MDF in the cull bin. In hind sight I should have left it there. I also picked up a few pieces of clear pine once. In more than a year of checking at least once a week that is all I got.

White Pine? I've never seen white pine in a big box store or for that matter in any lumber yard I have been to. I've only seen it at sawmills. What we have at our big box store is southern yellow pine and mystery wood (aka white wood). I've had very mixed results using "white wood" every thing from beautiful to so bad I tossed it in the trash. It sometimes tears out like crazy. Some times so bad you can't drill a clean hole with the sharpest high quality bits I could find and still could not get a clean hole.

I use recycled lumber mostly from pallets. I have a bunch of small pieces from pallets I reclaimed when I had access to all the hardwood pallets I could haul away.  I reclaimed a few truck loads at the time. Now days I can get all the pallets I want from work. Trouble is that they are almost 100% junk. Even if they were not. It's not cost effective even if they were made from better wood. There is a lot of labor involved in making pallets into usable wood and the yield is very low.

Scraps from manufacturing etc. I wish I had access to some. This could be a good thing depending on the wood you get.

My point is that you have to look at everything. Everything you do as a business has a cost. Cheaper materials may lower material costs but they may cost you more in the long run. The most expensive thing that goes into a toy is the labor.


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Reply with quote  #7 
This is excellent info-and I agree with and practice your suggestions!
Miriam Janssen

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Reply with quote  #8 
My favourite wood for toymaking is beechwood. It is hard enough to have thrown with and can be sanded smooth as baby skin. I use all sorts of woods I can lay my hands on as I love using different sorts of wood in one Toy. But I usually regret the use of pine or crappy plywood. BadBob said it perfectely 'the most expensive thing that goes into a toy is labor'. Not to mention your mood if things don't work out because of the use of crappy wood.
By the way, I never use mdf as I call myself a WOODworker. ? Pretty spoiled, ain't I?

A truck driver who transports steel is my biggest supplier of beechwood. He lives here in my neighbourhood and sells the wood for a very small price. So it is reclaimed wood. Most of the wood is too wet to use so I store it for at least a year.

The pictures are of the hefty dump truck. I used many different sorts of wood. An old pine bookshelf got a second life as the body (and I regret it big time), walnut with woodworm (that was really stupid), ash and beechwood for parts and the wheels and finally plywood for the load box (also a bad idea). It took me forever to make the truck and in the end I think it has too many 'bad parts'. So that was the last time I used pine, wood with worms or cheap plywood.

So the lo-boy trailer is made of beechwood and reclaimed teak. The hi-loader will be made of beechwood and teak as well and when that is finished I will just make a new truck. Of beechwood and teak. ?


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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miriam Janssen
The pictures are of the hefty dump truck. I used many different sorts of wood. An old pine bookshelf got a second life as the body (and I regret it big time), walnut with woodworm (that was really stupid), ash and beechwood for parts and the wheels and finally plywood for the load box (also a bad idea). It took me forever to make the truck and in the end I think it has too many 'bad parts'. So that was the last time I used pine, wood with worms or cheap plywood. So the lo-boy trailer is made of beechwood and reclaimed teak. The hi-loader will be made of beechwood and teak as well and when that is finished I will just make a new truck. Of beechwood and teak. ?


Oh, that is one sweet looking dump truck.



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Reply with quote  #10 
Miriam, this is a fantastic example of advanced toymaking techniques. You are a master at the craft. We hope to see you more on the forum and feel free to start your own topics and posts.
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Reply with quote  #11 

I often use Cypress Pine (this is a beautifully grained hardwood that is used extensively for decking/flooring here in Oz). VERY cheap and contains some natural oils that make it ideal for natural finish.
Has to be really dry to paint and can warp and become "carroty" or brittle if to old.

Problem is it is usually only available up to 18mm thick and 80-90mm wide but holds a beautiful edge and oils up well.
I occasionally re-saw it to 3mm, sand and oil for decorative overlays. I also use plum and lemon in the lathe a bit - nice timbers.

Miriam Janssen

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by john lewman
Miriam, this is a fantastic example of advanced toymaking techniques. You are a master at the craft. We hope to see you more on the forum and feel free to start your own topics and posts.


Thank you, John! Your designs are so beautiful that I only need to worry about making them.
In the past months I've been busy with making bandsaw boxes. The techniques I learned make it possible to cheat a bit on the 'scroll saw magic' hi loader ;-). I wil try to post some of my adventures but taking time to do so is a bit of a problem.

-Miriam -


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Reply with quote  #13 
Miriam's your post is very informative as I'm always looking at wood items for re- using for our purposes. Your Truck is just fantastic and one to be proud of and please post your work when you can.
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