Wooden toys have my heart, and I've been keeping my eyes peeled for the larger, ride-on trucks that used to be so common years and years ago. Finding them on eBay for a reasonable price can be tricky enough, but then you factor in shipping costs for a big hunk of wood and sometimes it's just easier to consider doing without. I finally decided I could probably make something that would do the job and fit my design aesthetic, so I enlisted the help of a friend with a jig saw and the kind employees at Lowe's to help me get started.
The end result was a fun new toy that can be used as a ride-on as well as a truck. It has already passed inspection and been approved by both of my younger kids, and is recommended for use by ages 18 months to 4 years. Mine are a little younger and older than that, so it's up to you, but be sure to use under adult supervision just like any other ride-on toy. Safety first!
– 1" x 8" x 4' pine pre-cut wood for top, bottom, and front piece
– 1" x 6" x 4' pine pre-cut wood for sides
– 2" x 2" x 4" cut of wood for handle
– 3/4" x 2" x 6" cut of wood for open end of truck
– four 2" rolling rubber casters
– 16 3/4" steel screws (be sure they have a wide head)
– 16 8 x 2" wood screws
– jig saw
– power drill and bit
– thin finishing nails (nail gun is optional)
– wood glue (optional)
– acrylic paint (optional)
– varnish of choice (optional)
Cut your 1" x 8" x 4' piece of pine to get one length that measures 16" (seat), one that measures 20" (base), and 8" (front). Cut your 1" x 6" x 4' piece of pine into two 20" pieces.
Step One: Place your two pieces of 1" x 6" x 20" on top of each other. Measure 16" from one corner and make a mark. Then use a circular object like a salad plate or lid and trace the curve starting at the 16" mark. Round off the edge so that it ends about 2" from the bottom of that short end.
One trick my assistant, Dustin, used to be sure the angle was cut evenly on both pieces of wood was to use a nail gun to attach tiny finishing nails through both boards—one on the rounded end and one on the opposite end—to cut through both pieces without slipping. I then removed the finishing nails after it was cut and the tiny holes are hardly noticeable. You could also try this with clamps if you don't have access to a nail gun.
Use your jig saw to carefully cut the curve along your boards and sand down your edges when you're done.
Step Two: Place your curved pieces along the long sides of your 8" x 20" cut of wood. Mark and pre-drill holes along the edges of the 8" x 20" cut of wood about 1/2" from the long edge. Mine measured about 1" from one corner, about 10" in from the same corner, and 16" from the same corner as shown. Make the same measurements on the opposite side of your 8" x 20" cut of wood. Then line up those holes you've pre-drilled and mark where you need to pre-drill into the bottom of your curved pieces as shown. Pre-drill those holes as well.
Step Three: Center your 3/4" x 2" x 6" cut of wood on the short end so that it's flush with the back edge and make a mark. Then pre-drill two holes near each end of your mark so that they are centered. Then use those two holes to mark where you should pre-drill into your small piece as you did in step two. Next, use two 2" wood screws to attach it from the bottom side or wait to paint it before you attach it. You can also add wood glue to all of the areas you'll be attaching wood together with screws if you prefer. It'll add extra support, but it's not necessary.
Step Four: Pre-drill six holes in the 1" x 8" x 16" piece of wood that will be your seat. Drill about 1/2" from the long edge again. Two holes should be centered and two in each corner as shown. You can then use these holes as your template to pre-drill holes into the top edge of your rounded pieces of wood as you did in step two. I have them upright in this photo for reference, but I hadn't yet screwed them onto the base.
Step Five: Place your 2" x 2" x 4" cut of wood for a handle about 2" in from the front of your seat edge and center it. Mark along the back edge for reference and pre-drill two holes about 1" above that line. Then use those holes to pre-drill holes into your handle. Use a screwdriver or screw bit on your power drill to attach the handle with two 2" wood screws from the bottom side.
Step Six: Flip your base piece (1" x 8" x 20") over and place your casters as close to the corners as you can without covering over a screw hole. Be sure not to drill any closer than 1/2" from each edge as you can cause the wood to split. Mark your screw holes, pre-drill, and then attach your casters using shorter 3/4" screws.
Step Eight: Screw your top on to the sides. For added stability and a finished front, you'll want to attach your nose piece. This is the 1" x 8" x 8" cut. Sand it down and pre-drill two holes on opposite edges about 1 1/2" in from each corner and 1/2" from the edge. Then use those as a template to mark your screw holes on the front of your truck. Screw it on and sand down any edges to create a smoother surface.
Step Nine: Sand the entire truck and then wipe it down with a damp cloth. I chose to add some painted details to mine to make it a little more fun and will likely add a coat of non-toxic sealant to protect it from smudges.
This toy is not picture perfect, but I'm incredibly proud of my first attempt at a wooden toy for my kids. It's strong, safe, and will surely outlast their rough and rowdy ways! Smith's favorite part is that he can load and unload it with blocks or his sister's shoes. I'm sure I'll find all kinds of random items hiding in there!
I'm really proud of myself for putting this together as it's been awhile since I've done any woodworking projects. It's a great reminder that you can make almost anything if you want to badly enough! Are you feeling brave? –Rachel