Making building blocks from branches

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Forum topic by puddlepot posted 09-04-2009 02:18 AM 1160 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 3211 days

09-04-2009 02:18 AM

I am a total newbie to woodworking and am having trouble finding some information on this subject. I have been wanting to cut small branches into differently sized pieces for my son to play with as building blocks.There is nowhere for me to obtain branches that have been dried and so I am wondering if it is ok to take newly harvested branches and cut them up. Is it really nessesary for the wood to dry for this project? I want to make something like this:

These pieces are often sanded and then polished with beeswax. Would I need to wait a long time for the wood to dry after I cut it before I wax the pieces?

Thanks so much for any advice.

3 replies so far

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3737 days

#1 posted 09-04-2009 02:59 AM

Sticks are free, so even if a few of them twist or crack it is not going to matter to much as long as your son doesn’t try to swallow the bits (how old is he?). It might be easier to buy a small piece of hardwood (maple or something similar with a fine grain) and cut these up into small blocks. I gave my kids the offcuts from a project I was working on a couple of years ago and they still dig them out occasionally and play with them. I didn’t put any finish on them, just let the kids play with them. Of course now they have paint, crayon and felt marker finishes but hey that’s what toys are for.

Welcome to Lumberjocks. There is a wealth of information on all sorts of woodworking here, enjoy!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View BTKS's profile


1986 posts in 3488 days

#2 posted 09-06-2009 11:52 PM

Welcome to woodworking and lumberjocks. I’d advise drying. Small long-grain like sticks or firewood will split along the length of the grain leaving a wedge opening. No big deal, just a small split. I like the beeswax idea for finish on kids toys. Do check the species of the wood, some species of bushes or trees carry toxins, ex Japanese Yew, etc. It’s usually the leaves and berries that are a problem. If it’s dry then there should be no problem. Hope this helps. BTKS

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

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3 posts in 3211 days

#3 posted 09-07-2009 11:21 PM

I decided to try and see how the wood would react, so I cut a few 20-50 cm pieces of branches, a few 20 cm pieces and a few 2-3 cm pieces and took them inside the house. They have been left inside to dry for a few days and the 2-3 cm pieces have split, the others have not. I am going to try and dry a few long pieces in the oven and see what happens.

I did find a place that will sell me a few dried branches though. I finally remembered a small woodworking shop that specializes in toy making. It is run by the government and the employees are handicapped and they make Waldorf style wooden toys for schools, shops and have a big christmas market every year. Some of their toys are made from branches, so I called them today and they will sell me some :)

I am still going to try the oven drying method though, because I want to be able to make toys for free.

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