Wooden Toys - Dump Truck

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Project by Lukas posted 06-20-2012 11:27 AM 5079 views 2 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I started a business with handmade toys with my wife about a year and a half ago. I made the wood toys (surprise) and my wife made stuffed animals.
This one is the dump truck, made completely from poplar. I used to finish the toys in shellac but eventually stopped it and left them unfinished due to testing requirements (lead content etc).
The bed dumps and the tailgate moves as seen in the pictures. The axle right behind the cabin can be lifted for empty runs and lowered for loaded driving. The driver is a pre-made wood figure, I don’t have a lathe.
The design is my own, made in Adobe Illustrator, then converted to G-code for the CNC router and cut on the router. The CNC cut parts were then assembled and sanded by hand. The CNC router is my own construction as well but that’s a different story.
Btw the business failed, customers loved the toys but were not willing to purchase them over cheap plastic stuff that lights up and talks. Seems like we didn’t have the marketing funds to reach the right audience. Better luck with the next business.


7 comments so far

View hunter71's profile


3249 posts in 3328 days

#1 posted 06-20-2012 11:39 AM

I can’t understand why the “CHINA’ stuff will sell and our handmade heritage toys won’t. I now give some toys away to deserving kids and will NOT sell any. LOVE YOUR WORK.

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View helluvawreck's profile


32083 posts in 3008 days

#2 posted 06-20-2012 01:52 PM

It’s a nice miniature and very robust looking.


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View robscastle's profile


5313 posts in 2345 days

#3 posted 06-20-2012 10:18 PM

Hello Lukas and wife,

Nice work on the wooden toys, your btw comment is a very common result when it comes to making quality wooden toys same situation is present here in QLD Australia.

Some of the items I see around for sale I couldn’t even buy the materials for the sell price let alone attempt to make a profit on them.

My wife is always commenting that I should sell come of my creations however that was not the reason for me making them, knowing the result but she was welcome to try.

Its my opinion that these sort of items will not have a market in general sales arena but may attract upmarket buyers in galleries etc, possibly where the client base is appreciative of the work and has the loot to purchase as well.

So in summary do not think you are on your own in the “cannot sell” aspect when it comes to custom made wood working items, and its not just wooden toys either just have a look at all your power tools and although they look like the original country of origin I usually find a small PCR label somewhere.

As others have commented I have also given many away.

Keep up the good work, nobody can beat specialist skills in the end, anyway who cares as long as you enjoy what you are doing!


Robert Brennan

-- Regards Rob

View Skylark53's profile


2676 posts in 3202 days

#4 posted 06-21-2012 01:55 PM

Ditto the comments from Robert. With your skills I hope you can find satisfaction in the work, regardless of the financial return. REALLY GREAT WORK.

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

View Lukas's profile


30 posts in 2309 days

#5 posted 06-21-2012 04:31 PM

Thank you all!
My then 3 year old son (he’s now 4) was our official toy tester. He got one of each toy I made and put it through the proper “real life situation” testing routines better than I could have ever done :-)
I ended up giving a lot of the toys away in the end too. I did enjoy making them, that’s why I picked it for the business and I will keep enjoying woodworking. We were just trying to build a business of our own and this one didn’t work. It’s a little frustrating at first but we both learned a lot from it and I’m pretty sure we’ll try something else after a little break.
I have a lot of learning and experimenting to do with my woodworking and I think I’ll try to sell some of the pieces that will result in my journey. Maybe It’ll grow to become a little side business, maybe it will just stay a very satisfying hobby. The reason I do woodworking though is always the fact that I love working with wood and being creative and that won’t change.
I will slowly post some more of my toys and other projects in the next few days but my wife’s 30th birthday is coming up and I have a big project in the making for her right now that takes up most of my time. More on that later as well.


View exelectrician's profile


2328 posts in 2569 days

#6 posted 07-09-2012 11:06 PM

—Umm…. I think you are pretty smart right now to have made your own CNC setup, so cool it with the negativity, have a little patience and keep up the good work. I too have had my share of hard knocks with world expectations. Think how you could get an assistant at min wage to make as many parts as possible in each hour out of free wood (obtainable on craigslist ) then all you have to do is assy.? Then sell them dirt cheap (at first). Christmas is coming….
Just make one thing, make a lot of them, and make them at low cost – That was Henry Fords secret.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View Lukas's profile


30 posts in 2309 days

#7 posted 07-10-2012 03:59 AM

@exelectrician Thank you! I thought about the mass production route but two reasons kept me from it. 1)I wasn’t going to compete with China or Walmart and 2)the real problem was not (yet) the amount I could produce but marketing and distribution. I am sure a cheaper product would have been easier to sell but I didn’t want to make cheap stuff, I love quality.
It was a good attempt but it didn’t go as planned so we’ll do something else. Disappointing at first but its just one of those bumps in the road of life. I learned a lot from it and I enjoyed it while it lasted.


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