Not the DIY type? I have these cameras for sale in my etsy shop…check it out!
For months I’ve been wanting to start making Jules some wooden baby toys. In fact, I’ve had most of the supplies for at least a month or two, but haven’t gotten around to my first attempt: a wood toy camera.
Here’s what I came up with…I LOVE it! There are several moveable parts for babies to play with, like a shutter button, lens, and mode dial.
So to get started making this toy camera, I made a trip to Hobby Lobby and a local wood store. I knew I wanted to make this out of hard woods (like oak, maple, walnut or cherry) since it’s intended for kids to play with (or chew on) and it can take more abuse than a softer wood like pine. Luckily, the camera is really small, so I really only needed a tiny chunk of each kind of wood. I ended up using oak (a remnant from a stair tread we used) for the larger bottom chunk. For the smaller top piece of wood I used maple I got for free from a remnant box at a local wood shop. You could use the same type of wood on top and bottom.
At Hobby Lobby I browsed the wood craft aisle and came home with a package of wood wheels and pegs. Later (after deciding to add a “mode” dial also) I picked up a smaller wood wheel at Ace Hardware.
First, cut the wood pieces to size. Mark the center for the shutter button, mode dial, and lens on the wood (I started drilling holes before remembering to take pictures).
Next it was time to drill some holes. I made sure the hole for the lens and mode dial were pretty tight so that the peg wouldn’t get glued too deep and keep them from turning. Make sure you don’t drill all the way through the wood when you drill the hole for the lens.
For the shutter button I went up a bit size so that the peg would have space to move. I first clamped the pieces together and drilled all of the way through the maple and into the oak with a 1/4″ drill bit. I unclamped the pieces and needed to remove more wood from the oak, so using my largest drill bit (3/8″) that was handy, I drilled two holes next to each other in the oak. Then I used a small chisel to make it a smooth channel. Basically you just need enough space for your spring and peg head to rest inside the toy camera. Just don’t drill too deep or you won’t get the springy action you want.
If I’m not being clear on the assembly, hopefully the picture below will help explain.
It took me some thinking to figure out what to use for a spring. Hobby Lobby doesn’t sell them, as far as I (and a couple of employees) could tell. Next I was walking around the dollar store trying to figure out what would work, when I came across some miniature chip clips. At 6 for $1, even if it was a bust I wouldn’t be losing much, so they came home with me. My dad pointed out to me that I could have used a spring from a clicky pen, too. Why didn’t I think of that? A smaller, round spring would have made drilling into the oak so much easier!
Make sure the spring fits okay.
Now it’s time to dry fit everything. It sucks to glue everything together, only to find something won’t work, so take a minute to dry fit!
If everything fits as it should, it’s time to glue and clamp. So drop a dab of glue into the hole, then the spring. Spread a thin layer of glue on top of the oak and line up the maple chunk (with upside down peg in the shutter hole) on top. Clamp.
Don’t go crazy with the glue for two reasons. First, if you put too much in it will squish out when you clamp and get on the exterior of your project, so it won’t take stain or oil evenly. Second, if you put too much too close to the shutter button, it could get glued in place, making all of your work making it move go to waste.
I let it dry overnight. The next morning I used our palm sander to make everything nice and smooth and rounded the edges a bit so they wouldn’t poke an eye out. After that (and before glueing in the other parts of the camera) I used some food safe wood oil (because you know the first thing that a baby will do with any toy is taste test it) to finish the wood. I also oiled the other moving parts before I glued them in place.
Finally it’s time to finish the assembly! It’s pretty basic…just a dab of wood glue in the hole and push the wood peg through the wood wheel and into the camera. Just don’t press it too far or it will hold the wheel too tight and keep the wheels from turning. You can see that I decided to turn the “mode dial” upside down and drill a bit out so the peg wouldn’t stick up so high as in the picture up above when I dry fit the camera. That’s completely optional–just do whatever makes you happy!
When I got down to it, this was a pretty quick project, and would have gone faster if I hadn’t been watching the Oscars while I did it!
Give the glue some time to dry before handing to baby, and then relish in having hand made a super cute toy for cheap!
And that’s why you make sure to use a food safe finish!