Modern Kids Ride-on Toy

Little E is always fascinated to watch her big brother and sister ride on all of their bikes and scooters. She often tries to sit on them and scoot around. I always wanted to try making a ride-on toy when the twins were little, but never had the time. So I finally got my chance! I’ll probably make more, but for this first design, I wanted to keep it as simple and sturdy as possible.

I used some poplar wood that I had in the garage. Then I got some wheels at a hardware store. It took just an afternoon to make. It kind of turned out looking like a vintage motorhome.

So far little E is quite interested in it, and especially likes putting toys inside the cargo area. I think after a bit of practice, she’ll be zooming around all over the place. The twins however, and really testing out how fast it can go. It’s pretty funny. I might need to make two more in a larger size.


  1. Jackie
    September 27, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Love love love! Where did you get the chair in the fifth photograph down? It's amazing!!!

    1. September 27, 2012 at 8:54 pm

      Thanks Jackie. Yeah, the chair is actually a vintage car seat that used to be sold by Costco in the 60's. They look so cool! You can still find them occasionally in vintage stores or online. The two holes were where you'd run the seat belt through. Crazy!

  2. September 27, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    So fun! P.S. Are you on Instagram?

    1. September 27, 2012 at 8:55 pm

      Thanks Katie. I've recently downloaded the Instagram app, but haven't used it yet. On my to-do list!

  3. Irena
    September 27, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    A beautiful idea!

  4. September 27, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    It's very nice idea.You can make bigger than this for parents :)

  5. September 28, 2012 at 6:12 am

    Joel, I love the way you made the storage with the opening at the back! I can tell you watch kids carefully when they play, and know what they like! I also wanted to ask you if you make your contact info available on your site. I couldn't find it. I wanted to get in touch with you about a cardboard event I'm planning...

    1. September 28, 2012 at 8:24 pm

      I amber. Thanks! And for my contact info, click on "About Made by Joel" at the top right of the site. Sorry, it's not very obvious. We're in the process of redesigning the entire site though, so I'll keep that in mind. Thanks! My email is joel (at) madebyjoel (dot) com

  6. September 28, 2012 at 7:47 am

    Joel that scoot is rad! And that car seat is really cool (as a chair, as an actual car seat it's a bit terrifying!!) I was looking on today and saw this bedspread someone made. I immediately thought of you and your kiddos...seems like something you guys could do and do well! Best!

    1. September 28, 2012 at 7:48 am

      Oh drat, the link!

    2. September 28, 2012 at 8:26 pm

      Yes, that car seat is definitely wild! yikes! I'll have to check out the young house love site. Nice!

    3. September 28, 2012 at 8:31 pm

      Ah, just got the link comment. Wow, that is so awesome!! Yes, definitely looks like something I'd love to try!

  7. September 29, 2012 at 6:09 pm


  8. September 29, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Hi Joel, Love your site! In Australia we have a kid's ride on toy called a Wheely Bug, that's a lot like yours but with a soft top. Our kids grew up whizzing madly 'round the house on theirs -

    1. September 29, 2012 at 10:52 pm

      Ah yes, I've seen those! They're awesome! Such a great design. Nice!

  9. September 30, 2012 at 4:52 am

    Dude, this is so RAD! Well Inspiring. I've spent the afternoon hanging a clothes dryer in our laundry. Now if I could just take the skills I learned this afternoon and apply them to the four planks of wood I have out the back and the casters that I have in the cupboard... I think we might just be able to make our own. Next weekend perhaps. Awesome man. Thanks!

    1. October 5, 2012 at 9:01 am

      Thanks Pete! Yeah, I'd love to see what you guys make if you do one. You'd probably have a blast painting some cool character designs on yours or something. Cool!

  10. September 30, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    This is awesome! The possibility of making my own ride-on toy has never even crossed my mind. But why? This is such a great idea.

  11. September 30, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Great project Joel- I made something semi-similar last year for my son who is truck obsessed...he got a lot of use out of it. I'll have to post a photo sometime. It didn't have the top handles though, I like that touch. 'Hope you're well -Deek

    1. October 5, 2012 at 9:07 am

      Thanks Deek! Yeah, I'd love to see a photo sometime! Also, cool idea with the headlights. I was thinking mine could a bit more flare. Maybe some fake buttons and dials to press and turn, too.

  12. September 30, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    Ps- recycled-junk idea, you can also add (screw, nail, or glue) two red milk-caps on the front to serve as (look like) headlights....

  13. October 1, 2012 at 11:32 am

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  14. October 2, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Awesome, the racing stripes are perfect!

    1. November 22, 2012 at 6:19 am

      If you have the outside room, a saodbnx would be great. My daughter was three when she first got her's. She just turned 5, and one of her presents was a digger thing that we got at Northern Equipment that is kind of like a backhoe, and filled her saodbnx up with new sand. She got a lot of other really nice presents, but that was her favorite. He would probably like something like that.

      1. November 22, 2012 at 7:33 am

        Hi Siso. Yes, she loves playing in the sand at the beach! I'm sure she would live a sandbox at home. Good idea!

  15. October 10, 2012 at 11:32 am

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  16. October 10, 2012 at 11:47 am

    [...] a blog that documents artist and designer Joel Henriques’ creations for his kids. I like his “modern kids’ ride on toy” that he made out of poplar wood and wheels from a hardware store. The overall construction is [...]

  17. gerd
    October 10, 2012 at 11:50 am

    It is nice, but i think you should cover the wheels with wood around so that nothing (e.g.the feet, fingers etc.) can come into the space between wheel and "do not know how to write in english)....also i think it would be goor to "round" the edges... Ans take bee wax for the wood! gerd

    1. October 13, 2012 at 9:01 am

      Great ideas Gerd! Yeah, make it look more like an Airstream trailer. That would be awesome.

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  19. October 10, 2012 at 7:45 pm

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  20. October 10, 2012 at 8:03 pm

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  21. October 11, 2012 at 6:31 am

    I might make a twist off this down the road- kinda a combo of one I did a ways back, yours, and with some other general weirdness mixed in for make magazine- if so, I'll mention you/credit you in the video....

    1. October 13, 2012 at 9:01 am

      Totally! I'd love to see what you come up with.

  22. October 11, 2012 at 6:50 am

    PS- are the stripes painted on, or red electricians tape with a coating over them?

    1. October 13, 2012 at 9:07 am

      Good eye Deek! Yeah, at first I used red electricians tape, because I wanted to make sure it looked good. But now I'm replacing the tape stripes by masking off the lines and painting them with red paint. Just using my artist acrylics. If you put enough coating over the tape, it might work, but still paint would be better I think. Oh, and a couple years ago I found the best non-toxic clear coat sealant for wood. It's Crystal Urethane by Timber Pro Coatings. There are a couple places in Portland where you can buy it, but you can order it online too. Might be pretty good stuff for you play forts and stuff. It doesn't smell at all. Quite nice.

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  25. October 13, 2012 at 11:01 am

    When little E gets a little bigger...try a balance bike...something like this: Little E's new ride looks great!

    1. October 15, 2012 at 8:00 pm

      Thanks! And yeah, that's an awesome balance bike you made! Our older kids learned on those too. They're the best!

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  27. Esme
    November 7, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    were do you pot all this toys?

  28. Esme
    November 7, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Sorry. Were do you put all this toys?

    1. November 8, 2012 at 9:53 am

      Ha, yes, I get that question a lot. Well most of them, like the cardboard ones can be flattened and put away in a drawer, or be recycled. But yeah, we kind of have a lot of toys on rotation. Our garage is one big playroom with tons of toys!

  29. Telly Lantier
    November 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Hey Joel awesome idea my 2 yr. old son, who is all boy will love this! I would like to make it for Christmas and I saw the height and width on you sketch, but was wondering if the height was with the wheels add or without and if without what height about is the wood itself. Just so I could get a more accurate cut and not have to do trial and error lol! also did you cut out the hole in the back or just used a litter piece of wood to close it in. If you know off hand if not np I can get it just wondering! Thanks , I hope you dont mind a copy cat lol and i will definitely have to keep up on your site, I just stumbled onto it for the first time tonight! Thanks a bunch!

    1. December 2, 2012 at 2:22 pm

      Hi Telly. Yes, the hight includes the wheels. The body alone is about 6 inches tall. Also, the back is just a shorter piece of wood that I put in at the end. So total, there's just 6 pieces of wood. (base, two sides, top, front end, and small back end board.) Have fun! Joel

  30. Lina Zigmante
    December 3, 2012 at 9:57 am

    great idea

  31. Esme
    March 6, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    That looks SO fun! Does it go vary fast?

    1. March 6, 2013 at 8:43 pm

      ha, yeah. quite fast when my older kids ride it.

  32. March 16, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    I think my son would love this and looks easy enough to for my husband to put together.

  33. April 23, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Brilliant. Fun and functional with some storage space too - in case you need to take your teddy bear and blanky with you on a great adventure. Some kind of padding for the seat that keeps with the minimalist design would be good I think.

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