SUGGESTIONS FOR MAKING TOYS SAFELY
Wooden toys never go out of style. There is rarely any major commercial hype around the latest wooden pieces, but they’ve been enjoyed for generations and are still going strong. Unlike plastic digital fads that get buried in new tech every year, wooden toys are as healthy as they are timeless.
There are many reasons wooden toys are better—not only for a child, but for the environment as well. They are more durable (yielding less waste than their plastic counterparts), biodegradable and also can be used with sustainable wood. Good quality, Eco-friendly wooden toys also don’t contain PVC, phthalates, or similar chemicals used in plastic toys.
When making wooden toys, some general safety concerns must be followed:
CHOKING HAZARD – No small pieces can be used on any toy because they can cause a choking hazard. A good guide is that if the part can fit through a paper roll tube, it is too small. It might be tempting to make pull toys using a string or rope. The rope can become dangerous if it comes separated from the toy. Every precaution must be taken to ensure the rope is securely attached. Do not use a wooden ball as a pull on the end of the rope, it might become detached. A simple knot will suffice. (See section on WHEELS below.)
POTENTIAL TOXIC WOOD! (CHECK FIRST) - Indeed, some woods emit toxic oils and/or dust. Some are only hazardous to woodworkers during the working process and others can be toxic to those with allergic reactions to the toxins. Click HERE for a guide to wood species and their potential toxic effects.
WOOD SELECTION - Never use pressure-treated wood for toys because of the chemicals used. Some woods are naturally oily. Avoid using raw wood that might cause a problem if the child brings the wood to his or her mouth.
PAINT – Some people are rightfully concerned about a child ingesting paint containing lead. Because of federal regulations, this no longer poses a threat to us in the US. However, it is recommended not to paint any wooden toy to dissuade any problem. Some people might put a coat of mineral oil on the raw wood to make it softer and to bring out the beauty of the wood. Mineral oil is sold in drug stores, and is used orally, so it is safe to ingest.
TOY WINDOWS – Some car/truck plans include a hole to represent a vehicle window. When making these window holes, make them large enough so little fingers will not get stuck.
SPLINTERS – It is vital all surfaces and edges are sanded properly to eliminate the chance of splitting or causing a splinter. Using a 1/8” round- over bit with a router can easily round edges. Make sure you remove all sawdust before you deliver the toy.
WHEELS – The club provides 1.5” wheels with axles from membership dues. Larger or smaller wheels may be used. All woodworkers know wood moves with changes in the environment. Never rely on a pressure fit when inserting a wooden axle into a toy. Use a small dab of wood glue on the axle to ensure the wheel will not become separated. Also, it is recommended not to use 1/8” dowels for axles when using smaller wheels. The smaller axle might be twisted off and separate the wheel from the toy. IMPORTANT: See Choking Hazard above.
FINAL USER – We have no way to know who the final user will be. To play it safe, do not make toys too complex with a lot of parts that may come separated. Assume the toy will be given to a young child who will put the toy to their mouth. IMPORTANT: See Choking Hazard above and Wood Selection above.
ONE LAST SECRET ABOUT MAKING WOODEN TOYS - We know that you would personally be devastated beyond words if something happened to a child as a result of a toy you made. The responsibility is completely on you as the toy maker. If you make something for a child, you need to do absolutely everything you can to make it safe. Don’t let that discourage you from making toys, but make sure to work it into your designs