In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to make natural wooden blocks using a scroll saw, band saw, and very basic woodworking skills. This project would make a treasured heirloom-quality gift for the children in your life.
- Safety glasses
- Timber of various lengths (scraps of walnut, maple, oak, or pine are perfect)
- Scroll saw or band saw
- Miter saw (optional)
- Saw blades
- Sanding paper
- When working with power tools such as saws, it is very important to wear safety glasses at all times.
- Make sure you are fully concentrating on the task at hand as saws and other power tools can do a lot of damage very quickly!
- For this tutorial, we assume you will be using either a scroll saw, band saw, or miter saw. Miter saws are perfect for cutting very straight lines in larger pieces of wood. A miter saw should not be used with pieces of wood where you can not keep your fingers safely away from the blade.
1. Plot Your Blocks
Since you are more than likely using scraps of different woods, a bit of forethought is required, so when you lay out your blocks, you maximize the use of the wood to get the best variety of shapes and sizes. Make sure you trace in pencil an assortment of squares, rectangles, and triangles. If you are feeling adventurous and have access to a scrollsaw or bandsaw, you can also include blocks that have curves such as semi-circles and arches.
It is also very important that you make sure your blocks are not too small, as they could pose a choking hazard for small children who put toys in their mouth.
Plotting Straight Lines for Squares and Rectangles
Plotting Straight Lines for Triangles
Plotting Curved Lines for Semi Circles
2. Cut Out the Design
Cutting Straight Lines
Using a saw, cut along the lines you have plotted. If the piece of wood you are working with is large enough to safely hold with your hand, a miter saw is a great tool to use for nice, straight lines. A band saw or scroll saw will work as well. Just move slowly and carefully for accurate cuts.
Cutting Curved Lines
You can accomplish curved lines by using a scroll saw or band saw. Carefully line up your project and cut along the curved line.
3. Sand Your Blocks
Carefully sand your blocks using a mid-level grit such as one hundred and fifty. Make sure you pay close attention to rounding the edges and corners of the blocks. You want to make sure there are no sharp edges that could hurt a child.
4. Finish the Blocks
Finishing with oils
One option for finishing your blocks is to use a safe, non-toxic oil such as jojoba or walnut. It is vitally important to ensure that you use safe finishes, since there is a good chance that the blocks will end up in the mouth of a little one at some point. Oils bring out the beautiful natural colors in timber, while also moisturizing and conditioning the wood.
To use oil, just pour a bit on to a clean, soft cloth or paper towel and evenly coat the blocks with a thin layer. Allow the oil to soak in for a few minutes and then wipe off any excess.
Finishing with paint
Another option for finishing your blocks is to use safe, non-toxic paint. Most craft or art supply stores will have paints that are certified non-toxic. Be sure to carefully read the labeling or ask a knowledgeable clerk or sales assistant for help when making a paint selection. After painting the blocks, the grain in the timber might raise a bit and become a bit rough. Gently sand the rough edges again and touch up with paint if necessary.
Let the Building Fun Begin!
In this tutorial, you learned how to draw a design on wood, and use a scroll saw, band saw, or miter saw to cut out wooden building blocks. You also learned how to select finishes and paints that are both beautiful and most crucially, child-safe.
This is a great project to hone your woodworking skills, and it would also make a fantastic handmade gift that is sure to be cherished for years to come!