Using a Plane When Making Wooden Toys

Stanley Block Plane Used to Smooth the Flat Surfaces of This Wooden Toy Car Body
Stanley Block Plane Used to Smooth the Flat Surfaces of This Wooden Toy Car Body

I don't know why I never thought of this before. Possibly, because I have been conditioned to think of planes as something you use for making furnture or trimming a stuck door. I have watched many YouTube videos about making wooden toys. I can only recall one instance where a plane was used. I saw this yesterday.

Lots of toys have flat surfaces that could be planed. Some of them will require a bit of ingenuity to figure out how to hold the irregular shapes.

 I can cut a pretty good line with a scroll saw. However, it's almost never perfect. This is especially true with the thicker bodies where the blade will sometimes try to follow the grain. I can cut it smooth enough that I can't see the ripples with my naked eye, but my fingers know the difference. The imperfections can be amplified when you apply paint or other finish and it really shows when you sand between coats. Better and easier to fix it now than after the painting has started.

I usually use a belt sander for smoothing the flat surfaces on my toys. Belt sanders work well for this job but they are noisy and create a lot of dust and I can't use them when my grandson is in the shop with me I don't want to use most power tools. Planes are quiet. They don't make any dust and as long as I do my part correctly they can produce a dead flat surface ready to paint that is much smoother than I could ever get with sandpaper.
I planed the flat parts of 19 car bodies using two block planes. An old (antique) Stanley and a cheap Scotties store branded block plane made in Taiwan. The Stanley did a much better job due primarily to the adjustable mouth.

Shanley and Tiwanese Scotties Branded Block Planes I Used
Shanley and Tiwanese Scotties Branded Block Planes I Used

Lessons learned. No Knots! I a couple of the bodies had small knots. I could not get an acceptable surface on these and they will need to be sanded anyway. You need very sharp blades. You are not hogging off wood. You want to remove very thin shavings with little or no tear out. Dull blades also increase the risk of breaking smaller parts.

Planes are always going to be used in my future toy making. Now I'm wondering if I could use my scrapers for the curved toy parts.


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