Feb 272013

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.

wood toy camera

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.

wood toy camera 5

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).

wood toy camera 1

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.

wood toy camera 2

If I’m not being clear on the assembly, hopefully the picture below will help explain.

wood toy camera 4

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!

wood toy camera 12

Make sure the spring fits okay.

wood toy camera 3

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!

wood toy camera 7

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.

wood toy camera 10

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.

wood toy camera 11

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!

wood toy camera 16

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!

wood toy camera 14

Give the glue some time to dry before handing to baby, and then relish in having hand made a super cute toy for cheap!

wood toy camera 17

And that’s why you make sure to use a food safe finish!

wood toy camera 18

Linking up to Bower Power, Young House Love, The Remodeled Life, and Decor and the Dog.

  28 Responses to “DIY Wood Toy Camera”

  1. WOW!! This camera is AMAZING. I love it A LOT!!! It kind of reminds me in a way of the wooden stove we built for my son when he turned two. It has that feel to it. (It’s on my DIY page if you want to see it).

    I love how you made the button clickable. That is just awesome. Fantastic project!!!

    • Thanks! My dad rolled his eyes at me yesterday, as I kept playing with the toy camera even while my little one napped. 🙂

      I’ll be checking out your wooden stove for sure…a play kitchen is on my list of things I want to make. I just have to be patient until she could actually get some enjoyment out of it!

  2. Visiting from YHL’s party. I love wood crafts so I love how this turned out. Thanks for the tutorial!

  3. I love this so much! It’s gorgeous. I’m sure it will provide hours of entertainment for years!

  4. This is so so cute!!!! What a great idea and super fun diy!

  5. This is such a fabulous idea! I want to make one for ME, paint it turquoise and call it art.

  6. Love it! Your adorable baby is so lucky to have such a cute camera. 🙂

  7. Wow! This is so impressive! What a special toy to have for years to come!

  8. Wow, this is such a lovely idea. Maybe I can get the boyfriend to make a few for baby shower gifts. Off to Pin it!

    I tackled a $5 drum shade here: http://blackandwhiteobsession.blogspot.com/2013/02/pinterest-challenge-drum-shade.html#more

  9. Such a great toy!! I’ve starred the post in my reader so that someday Chris can go back and read it and make it 🙂

  10. That is wonderful! I was just looking at some wooden toys we have and thinking about how to DIY some others, so this is perfect!

    We made a simple drum for the challenge- http://www.newmomstalk.com/2013/02/27/she-drums-wint…rest-challenge

  11. This is great! I will put this on my husband’s to-do list; he’s been looking for things to make our son.

  12. Your camera is ADORABLE!!! I love homemade wooden toys…I should really try making some!

  13. This is by far the coolest thing I have seen today. I can’t believe you made it!! Pinning it in the hopes that one day I can do it justice 🙂

  14. How clever is this! And so cute! Totally going to make one for my girl.

  15. I am obsessed with wooden toys for our son (even though he is still to little to play). They last longer and seem so classic. May have to make o e of these. I might paint the bottom block and kid friendly, bright color,

    • It’d be so cute painted a bright color! I would have loved to stain mine, but I wasn’t sure of a food-safe way of doing it. My baby girl is chewing on everything these days, so I just left it plain. Maybe after she grows out of the chewing phase and plays with it as an actual camera I’ll stain it?

  16. Oh my gosh this is so cute. Pinning this for my husband to make at a later date… though I’m not sure he’ll feel the need to wait til we have kids to make one! I participated in the Pinterest Challenge too if you’d like to check out my blog 🙂

  17. Thanks for sharing these plans. Eager to build one.

  18. […] | Simple Wood “Houses” –  Hello Bee | Road Signs – Doodles and Jots | Wooden Cameras – Naptime […]

  19. […] a toy camera — just think of the hours of pretend play this toy brings. So why not make a wooden toy camera and you can even paint it in your child’s favourite […]

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