Parts are parts, another toy post

Since the last few posts here were about toys I thought I would write a little something about toy making.

Part of the creative process for me, is the ability to combine new ideas with efficient methods of construction. For example I can make, and have made, wooden wheels for toys, but manufactured wooden wheels are readily available in a number of sizes, they are inexpensive, and I would rather spend the time that I would need to make wheels on the toy design and on other parts of the toy that cannot be bought. Of course the easiest way to think out a project using manufactured parts is to have a store of parts to draw upon. Being able to reach into a bin and pick up a part of a given size and see how it would fit the design that you are working on is an enormous advantage to the toy maker and designer.

toy parts as part of the design process

When it comes to toy making, and conventional manufactured wood parts, I have inherited a huge inventory—literally. Several years ago now, an elderly friend who also made toys willed me his toy parts when he died. I was touched because I did not really know the man all that well. When his son called me to ask if I could come see the parts and pick out those that I wanted, I was tempted to say I would take the lot. A little voice in the back of my head told me that I should look first. I am glad I did.

Apparently, my friend Phil did not believe in half measures; if he needed a couple of two-inch wheels, he ordered a gross. When I visited his shop, I found an entire wall, eight feet high and fifteen feet long, covered with boxes, all full of wooden toy parts—thousands of them.

I ended up taking enough parts to last me for the next ten years or so, which ended up barely making a dent in Phil’s collection. I put the word out and amateur toy-makers started appearing to pick through the supply. A surprising number of people benefited from Phil’s toy-part collection, and now, whenever I start a toy project I think of Phil as I root though an embarrassment of riches.


2 Responses to “Parts are parts, another toy post”

  1. Robbin Walsh Schoewe Says:

    Hi! I LOVE your website. I find it extremely refreshing! BTW, I just left your sister’s house today and we had a terrific visit and reminisced about your early endeavors: the old “train room”, massive snow forts, and ice-boat rides. It made me think to visit your site again. (My mom gave me the blog address a few months ago.) I’m looking forward to monitoring your interesting projects from time to time. I hope you are well and happy!

  2. dovetails Says:

    Hi Robbin,
    So glad to hear from you! And glad you liked the site. Things are great here and new projects all the time. So great to hear from you-my best to Nick and the kids.

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