Modular Building toys

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Project by robscastle posted 10-19-2012 08:24 AM 1583 views 5 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is an interesting story in regards to not attempting to compete with CNC woodworking using MMC at home MMC Man Manual Control.
I was approached by a resident asking if I could make some modular toys that were on ESTY

I thought at first that the sell price was beyond my costs and said that I could not make them in MDF for the same price and suggested what I thought was a reasonable cost I could make them for.

Silly move as my price was accepted.
So my learning training began, I set about attempting to replicate the image provided using MDF.

After lots of sawdust and a bin full of scraps, broken router bits and a few expletives I managed to produce a presentable product.

I rang the customer and invited them to view my work.

They were happy with the result and then asked if I could do it in ply.
Shouldn’t be a problem was my misinformed reply.

The saga continues

However the plywood which was readly available is a step above firewood, its graded as CD, holes poor finish warped to name a few of the defects, which after reading the specs I would consider it barely conformed to.

So my attempts to try to find plywood suitable for making toys went on, and it was is no easy task I tell you, eventually I did find some suitable AA grade ply but the cost was prohibitive along with not being readly available.

Eventually I found some ply locally which was reported to be BC grade and appeared to be suitable, and the cost was now twofold, meaning it was 50% of the AA grade cost.

I was tempted to phone the customer back and decline the job, but as failure was not one of my options I decided to do it anyway.

I managed to produce some presentable examples and called the customer back to review my work.

They were happy with the results, apart from some minor cosmetics, like holes in the material, so much for BC grade plyywood.

The cosmetic defects will be fixed and the customer will go away happy.

However the lesson here is do not attempt to compete with CNC wood working in the home shop using MMC and expect to be competitive.

Lesson learnt

Robert Brennan

-- Regards Robert

4 comments so far

View ChrisK's profile


1813 posts in 2586 days

#1 posted 10-19-2012 12:22 PM

I do not know that the CNC part keeps cost down as much as sourcing building material that is cost effective and usable. Once looking for some oakum, I found it for$4 US per 48×96 x 5mm sheet. That catch was I needed to order a full shipping container’s worth. Enough for about 5000 canoes. It would be great if you could find a local shop that would let you tag on to there order. I know, easier said than done.

Keep the jigs in case you find some material.

-- Chris K

View robscastle's profile


3437 posts in 1709 days

#2 posted 10-19-2012 09:17 PM

Hi Chris,

I have to agree that the material cost weigh heavly, from my experience, I eventually found the material was available .

The 9.5mm MDF I used first up was about $25 per sheet, so I assumed ply would be much the same, silly me.
But the CD grade ply available locally was $35 and was not suitable for toy manufacture.
In fact I was at a loss to understand what its purpose use was anyway as it was not structural plywood.
It had exposed knot holes, butterfly patches inserted, gaps in the laminate, variations in thickness and then not one sheet as straight all were warped, and that was just some of the defects I saw.

The Plywood manufacturer near me has very helpfull but did not sell directly.
To find a outlet meant travelling across town up to 30Klms round trip plus road transit tolls as well and then add the sell price of $65 to $70, made for a vey expensive sheet of ply.

Hence settling for a smaller sheet at 1200×900mm and BC grade at $25.00.
Of which I meticlously inspected prior to purchase, only to then find gaps in the laminate hidden inside the ply after cutting.

-- Regards Robert

View MattHartzell's profile


12 posts in 1567 days

#3 posted 10-20-2012 02:20 AM

I am fortunate to work for a furniture manufacturer. We get 11/16 Chinese birch ply for like $15 per 4×8 sheet. I am sure you could find a local cabinet shop that would allow you to tag on to their order for 10% or less – maybe just a case of beer.

View robscastle's profile


3437 posts in 1709 days

#4 posted 11-27-2013 12:00 PM

Beer is good!

-- Regards Robert

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