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Book Review: Making Heirloom Toys

posted Feb 3, 2012, 5:54 AM by Michael Dekker   [ updated Mar 16, 2012, 6:22 AM ]
Making Heirloom Toys
With my daughter Amber being just 14 months old, my thoughts turn to toys, toys, and more toys! Christmas is fast approaching, and already my wife is planning presents. Whether I have time in my workshop or not, it is always easy to do a little research and dreaming aided by books.

Today, I thought I'd share my thoughts on a book by Jim Makowicki titled Making Heirloom Toys (1996, The Tauton Press, ISBN 1-56158-112-7).

The book is hardcover, approximately 9"x13", with sturdy pages and a good binding to keep the pages together as you enjoy it. A quick flip through the book quickly finds its best feature: 16 full colour pages collected at the centre of the book that illustrate the toys from the book, shown in a variety of angles and finishes. This lets you look at all the finished projects in one easy pass. Each image also has a caption beside it letting you know what page to find that project on.

The first section of the book goes over the basics of toy building: safety, tools, and details some of the jigs that let you build small toys with accuracy but most importantly with safety in mind.

The projects themselves are mostly vehicles of various types, trains, boats, cars both modern and classic, planes and even a fire truck that is sure to delight any boy. Some balance games, a magnet-clock, and a clever little grasshopper rounds out the selection.

The projects are laid out in a straightforward fashion. A brief introduction is followed by instructions broken down into individual assemblies, presented in clear and concise language. A cutting list with suggested woods is provided, as well as scale diagrams with measurements and angles clearly marked. Each page with diagrams is marked with an enlargement scale, for those who like to work from full-sized images to simplify the cutting process.

In terms of practicality, this book seems more geared towards making toys for boys rather than girls, and the intricate nature of many of the toys would suggest an appropriate age of at least three, with the possible exception of the grasshopper.
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