Starting a small wooden toy business

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Forum topic by Skiedra posted 12-06-2013 10:10 AM 18820 views 4 times favorited 39 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Skiedra's profile


259 posts in 2532 days

12-06-2013 10:10 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tools toys side business

Hey all,

I have an idea to start a small wooden toy side business.

Power tools I have atm: 1) belt+disk sander 2) vertical drill 3) table saw 4) scrollsaw 5) planner 6) router with a custom ( routing table on the way. 7) jigsaw 8) circural and this other similar saw

Seriously considering Sorotec’s Stepcraft 600 CNC.

Lacking tools: 1) Bandsaw 2) More clamps

At my location, I have this wood available: pine, ash, oak, spruce, birch, linden, some maple. Also, baltic birch plywood.

My shop is small, around 3×4 meters (10×12 foot)

Any advise on how to proceed? Much appreciated.

39 replies so far

View rhett's profile


742 posts in 3908 days

#1 posted 12-06-2013 11:14 AM

There were some regulations put into place a few years ago, regarding the selling of wooden toys to children, mostly has to do with finishes. Check that out FIRST.

The other piece of advice I will offer is this. Do not finance or lease equipment under the premise that “work will come if I have the tool”. Work your a$$ of with what you have and stay free from overhead for as long as possible.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View Loco's profile


210 posts in 1990 days

#2 posted 12-06-2013 11:26 AM

What country ? In the US teams of unemployable lawyers await an accident involving toys. It’s really, really big business !

-- What day is it ? No matter. Ummmm What month is it ? No moron. I paid for a 2 x 6. That means Two inches by six inches. I want the rest of my wood.

View Skiedra's profile


259 posts in 2532 days

#3 posted 12-06-2013 12:52 PM

Loco, I’m in eastern Europe and would aim towards eastern/central European markets.

Rhett, I plan on untreated toys, or linseed oil & beeswaxing them

View jerrells's profile


918 posts in 3125 days

#4 posted 12-06-2013 01:22 PM

I started a scroll saw hobby business about four years ago. I have basically the same equipment. I used craft shows, Facebook, my web site, friends to market my business. It has taken about 4 years for me to start getting a reasonable flow of income (which I do not really need as I am retired). Find good craft shows with lots of traffic. Find ways to get your name out there. I give away a number of items and some of the reason is marketing my name. Find someone in your country in a similar business that will share information.

Just my thoughts

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2688 posts in 3162 days

#5 posted 12-06-2013 04:03 PM

I have made and sold wooden toys here in Texas. The new regulations pertaining to toys is mostly about finish but you still have to submit any toys, even with no finish, just to show that there actually is no finish…... I was paying about $850 a year for liability insurance. That is a lot of $5 toys!... Toys sell very well and are easy to mass produce with simple tools but the risk is too great for me so I stopped making them.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Website>

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3107 days

#6 posted 12-06-2013 04:22 PM

I would talk to your accountant about setting it up under an LLC and you definitely will need some liability insurance.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Danpaddles's profile


573 posts in 2552 days

#7 posted 12-06-2013 05:28 PM

I’ve made a number of toys over the years, never give a thought to liability. But then, this is the first year I am selling stuff. Before, it was all just for gifts.

I wonder what the liability is if I go back to just giving away a few stand up puzzles, and stop selling?

And- what the heck will I do with a box full of puzzles that did not sell at the last show? Just give them away, I guess.

-- Dan V. in Indy

View Skiedra's profile


259 posts in 2532 days

#8 posted 12-06-2013 08:28 PM

Great advice, everyone, thank you.
Regarding CNC and going over to “expensive” tools, my understanding is that CNC would take away most of the cutting and some shaping. Leaving sanding, finishing and assembly.

View quvia's profile


104 posts in 1908 days

#9 posted 12-07-2013 12:59 AM

I make a lot of toys for family and friends and am proud to say I never put anything sharp in the toys. All glue with the idea that nothing will come off that a child can swallow. People really like this for there children.

-- Ted ,Conesus,N.Y.

View Skiedra's profile


259 posts in 2532 days

#10 posted 12-07-2013 02:49 PM

quvia, do you plan on posting any of the toys in your projects section?

View shipwright's profile


8187 posts in 3038 days

#11 posted 12-07-2013 03:03 PM

If you have drill press (you mentioned “vertical drill”), then a simple overhead pin router like this one would help cut repeatable parts.
You can make one with what you have in a couple of hours.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View quvia's profile


104 posts in 1908 days

#12 posted 12-07-2013 11:48 PM

I will collect some toys and post them this evening. Thanks for your interest.

-- Ted ,Conesus,N.Y.

View Skiedra's profile


259 posts in 2532 days

#13 posted 12-09-2013 12:52 PM

shipwright, great idea, I will try it out.

View matts_dad's profile


61 posts in 2900 days

#14 posted 06-17-2014 12:34 AM

I ‘toyed’ with this sort of idea when I first retired, But a couple of things bothered me when I dug into the liability issue on-line:

1 – As Jim Finn said “I was paying about $850 a year for liability insurance. That is a lot of $5 toys!... ”
2 – Liability insurance should be carried as long as your toys are in use. Even if you decide to stop the business after a couple of years your toys may still be in use and therefore you still may be liable.
3 – If you both design and build your toys you could be liable for either an inherently ‘dangerous’ design or a faulty build.

As a simple unforeseen example – I once made a good sized wooden coal car toy box for Chris, a child of some friends. It was a up-sized replica of one of his plastic train cars. I painted the body with the same bright orange as on plastic car, and used his initials and birth date for the car number. Chris’s grandfather donated 4 lawn mower wheels. We painted the wheel hubs along with mounting hardware a nice shiny black. Come to find out, years later, that Chris would push his two younger siblings down the street in the thing! They had a great time, but I am just as glad that the wheeled toy box I put so much time into, finally wore out.

Perhaps I am being a bit paranoid, and I certainly don’t want be a bah, humbug Grinch. So, if you know a lawyer whose judgement you respect, I assume that he could give you a more realistic perspective. The whole legal issue seemed to take the fun out of the idea for me, so I just make freebies for the grand-kids, friends and other relatives.

If you or someone else in ‘lumberjock’ land has some better input about the ‘liability’ issues, it might be useful to a number of folks here to start a thread on this topic. Take care -

-- Barry

View Puzzleman's profile


417 posts in 3184 days

#15 posted 06-17-2014 12:51 PM

I make children’s toys and puzzles for a living. I have been doing this for over 10 years.

Concerning the liability of finishes or the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act). This came around because of the lead in paint from China situation from several years ago. These rules only apply to any company or individual having gross ales of $1,000,000 or more. I doubt many people on here have that amount of sales in toys.

Concerning product liability. The cost of liability insurance needs to figured into the costs of the products. The reality of life is that there is always the possibility of being sued for things that are beyond our control. Insurance costs are just a part of doing business and need to be treated as any other cost of doing business. Don’t think that this only applies to toys. How about someone who makes a chair, the customer uses it for a step stool, one of the rungs break as they use it as a step to get to the seat of the stool to stand on and they fall down and crack their head on the side of the fireplace hearth. You need to have liability insurance for whatever you are making as there are people doing inappropriate things everywhere and expecting to get paid for their mistakes.

You can put disclaimers on your products but that doesn’t always help. Companies have been sued over disclaimers that were violated and someone got hurt. The customer’s point was that the wording was vague and was not easily visible. The person didn’t win but the lawyers got paid.

Concerning making $5 toys and paying insurance on top of that. If your margins are so tight that you can’t afford the insurance, you need to rethink your pricing. If the markets that you sell in won’t support anything more than $5 toys, change markets to ones that will.

-- Jim Beachler, Chief Puzzler,

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