Using PVC For Toys

This is a copy from my post in the ToymakingPlans.com Community Forum on using PVC.  Some of this will apply to any tubing, Not just PVC. If you want to see the whole thread click here.

Wooden Toy Space Ship Using PVC Tubing
Wooden Toy Space Ship Using PVC Tubing 
My one safety concern about using PVC pipe is the size of the hole. No round hole in any toy should be small enough that a finger can get stuck in it. If a child gets their finger stuck in a round hole it can cut off the blood circulation and possibly cause the loss of a finger. Kids are going to put their fingers in a hole. If PVC pipe or any small tubing is used on a toy there needs to be a plug in the hole so it is not deep enough for a child to get their fingers caught in it.  This means that the pipe/tubing must to large or short to get a finger caught or filled with a plug.  I got this from the testing document published by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. I have almost stopped using round holes in toys because of this.

I would not hesitate to use PVC a toy if I had a suitable safe use for it that wood wasn't good for. One of my grandson's favorite toys is a bucket full of short 3/4 inch PVC pipe and a bunch of fittings. I made this for him after watching him fascinated with some PVC pieces he found in my Aquarium junk box. He is four now and has been playing with these since he was two. PVC has sharp edges but this is easy to fix with a bit of sandpaper. He doesn't put them in his mouth. Never has that I know of. Is it safe? All of our water flows through PVC.

Working with PVC provides some challenges. It's slippery so you need to be extra careful to hold it securely. You can cut it with a saw but I don't do this unless it is too big for the  PVC cutter. The PVC chips go everywhere when cutting it with a miter saw. There must be son static electricity. The PVC chips stick to everything. PVC Bends easily when warm. If you heat it enough it can be bent to just about any shape you want. I have made handles out of it by heating in the pipe an oven and bending it to shape on a form. Once it is cooled it will retain the shape.

PVC cutting tools are cheap. Harbor Freight sells one that works well so long as you are careful to keep everything straight and square while you are cutting. The Harbor Freight blades are soft and the edge bends quite easily, With careful use, it works well.  It costs $6.99 for the Harbor Freight tool. Better quality tools run in the $35 range.

Gluing PVC to PVC requires a solvent-based glue. It cures very fast you only have a few seconds of working time. With PVC pipe, I like to dry fit and mark all the parts so I know where to align them. A Sharpie pen works great for this. I have never tried it but I don't think PVC would work well with wood glues. You will probably need to use epoxy to glue it to wood.

Will I use PVC for making toys? Probably not. Using PVC would add complexity to the build. More parts mean it takes longer to build and costs more. If you're selling your toys you will need to sell it for a higher price. There might be some reason to use it but I today I can't think of one.


What Airbrush Should I Buy For Painting Toys?

I've made a lot of toys over the years. Most of the toys I made were not finished or had a little polyurethane on them. I didn't paint any of them.

Then one day I saw some painted toys. that looked really nice. I decided that I wanted to try this out for myself. It seemed to me that air brushes would be the way to go. I had an airbrush that I had picked up at a yard sale years ago and an air compressor. I also went to school to learn autobody painting and worked as a painter for a short time. How hard could it be?

It didn't take long before I realised that airbrushing toys was a lot more complicated than I had expected. The paints were very different and worst of all I could not just google up some videos about how to airbrush toys. Most people that were finishing toys were using mineral oil concoctions or rattle can paint. I didn't find a single tutorial how to about painting toys with an air brush. I was going to have to figure this all out for myself.

I started with the airbrush I already owned soon discovering that it needed a bit of help. Fortunately for me it was a Badger and they have parts and support for old air brushes and I was soon able to get it up and running. I wanted to use acrylic paints mainly because the others I looked at required the use of expensive solvents with warnings on the labels about brain damage from inhaling fumes. They were also flammable.

My yard sale airbrush didn't work. I started buying airbrushes and trying them with a variety of acrylic paints. Most of them just didn't work with the paints I wanted to use.

I now own about 10 airbrushes. Badger and Chinese imports. The Chinese airbrushes work if you want to use the expensive paints made for airbrush artists. They didn't work for acrylic house paint or the $0.99 bottles of craft paint they sell at WalMart.

After lots of experimenting, the airbrush I recommend you start with is a Badger Anthem 155. It will spray anything you might want up to and including acrylic house paint and automotive paints. It will spray them all with the same needle. Badger airbrushes have seals that will stand up to lacquer thinners and other harsh solvents. Parts are available cheap from Badger, Amazon, eBay and other sources. You will break something. Drop the needle on a concrete floor and it will be toast. Parts and support are important. Badger will rebuild your air bush for the cost of the parts. Badger is a US company and all their parts are made here.

Badger 155 Anthem Airbrushes
Badger 155 Anthem Airbrushes

Parts for Chinese air brushes are hard to come by and believe it or not expensive. I broke the tip in one of mine and the replacement cost more than I paid for the airbrush. In some of the Chinese air brushes lacquer thinners and other solvents will eat the seals. Good luck with finding the seals. Essentially they are disposables. If you don't mind buying a new airbrush everytime you breaks a part these may be just the thing you need.

Master Brand Made In China Air Brush Purchased On eBay
Master Brand Made In China Airbrush Purchased On eBay

I spent way more time and money than I should have to to figure all of this out. The biggest problem was that most of the information that was available on the internet was totally unrelated to what I wanted to do or posted by people that really did understand paints and how they work.  I spent money on things I didn't need just to try them for myself. I have lots of airbrush stuff that I will probably never use again. Save your time and money.

Buy the Badger Anthem 155.

I don't work for Badger and they are not a sponsor.


First Bad Bob's Custom Motors Coupe Is Complete

First Prototype of the Bad Bob's Custom Motors Coupe is done.

All of the parts were painted before assembly. Paint blocks the pores of the wood and prevents the wood glue from penetrating into the wood. To get a good bond you must leave the contact surfaces free of paint. This is much more difficult than it sounds.

Handmade Wooden Toy Car - Bad Bob's Motors Coupe - Green - Yellow
Handmade Wooden Toy Car - Bad Bob's Motors Coupe - Green - Yellow

Getting the fenders mounted without damaging the paint was a real challenge.  I had to line them up on the body of the car and trace around them with a pencil so I could see where not to paint. I painted over the lines while painting the body but only a small amount. I should have painted more aggressively leaving a much narrower strip bare for the glue. The tracing failed to account for the rounded corners of the fenders and I had to do some touch-up painting.

Handmade Wooden Toy Car - Bad Bob's Motors Coupe - Green - Yellow
Handmade Wooden Toy Car - Bad Bob's Motors Coupe - Green - Yellow

Al the rest of the parts were easy because they fit into deep holes. All I had to do was paint half of the dowel put a small amount of glue on it and slide it home.

Handmade Wooden Toy Car - Bad Bob's Motors Coupe - Green - Yellow
Handmade Wooden Toy Car - Bad Bob's Motors Coupe - Green - Yellow
 I have nine more of these in the queue. The next one is a sedan probably painted a solid color. The green and yellow colors were requested by my grandson and quality assurance tester. As always he gets the first ones to test.

Handmade Wooden Toy Car - Bad Bob's Motors Coupe - Green - Yellow
Handmade Wooden Toy Car - Bad Bob's Motors Coupe - Green - Yellow