Harry Potter’s Getaway Treehouse

Over the summer the kids have enjoyed making dozens of fairy houses with flowers and objects around the yard. But yesterday my son and I decided to make a mini treehouse. I used a design in my friend Derek’s book. (He’s a master of DIY mini houses and forts. I’ll post info for the book below.) We cut the walls out with my scroll saw, …

Miniature Kitchen Set

Our youngest daughter LOVES anything that involves cooking, and she’s also enchanted by tiny objects. So I decided to paint the top of an old mint tin to resemble a stove, then I created some cooking objects that could be stowed away inside for a miniature kitchen set. So far, it’s been a huge amount of fun for her. And the twins are swooping …

Little Bird Friend

Last night I made this little mixed media bird with various scraps from my art studio – wood, feathers, wire, and fabric scraps by the awesome people at Umbrella Prints. Not sure what I’ll do with him yet. Maybe a stop-motion animation skit would be fun.

Thanksgiving Wood Turkey Toy/Decoration

It seems like Thanksgiving decorations are so difficult to find. Most stores just move straight from Halloween to Christmas and Hanukkah. So yesterday, I decided to make a little wooden turkey decoration for our mantel. As a child, I remember lying on my Grandparent’s living room floor and being able to pull things off the shelf that looked like …

Childhood Vintage Pull Toy

Here is one of my favorite toys from when I was a kid. My mom just found it in the attic. I can’t see any markings on it, but I just learned from my Facebook friends that it’s from Brio in Sweden. Such a great design! Very short movie below if you want to see it in action!

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 …

DIY Baby Toy Slot Box

Baby E has been having a lot of fun with a vintage cash register toy, but it’s too hard for her to get the coins into the small slots. So I made some round circles out of scrap wood, sanded them, and cut a few slots into a shoe box. Then the kids and I painted the coins with some non-toxic paints. She really loves putting the coins in, then opening …

Prepare for Launch!

My five year old daughter has recently discovered the fun of catapulting things with her spoon. To bring the action a bit further away from the table, I decided to make some very simple catapults out of scrap wood. After dinner we spent the entire evening catapulting Star Wars Lego figures outdoors. It was super funny, and I was surprised at how high …

Cedar Box Dollhouse and Art Books

I actually got to enjoy an afternoon alone this week. I decided to go look at art books and magazines. One of the shops had some empty cedar cigar boxes for a couple of dollars, so I got one to try out as a small dollhouse. I love the smell of the cedar, and it ended up looking pretty cool too. I also found a couple of vintage art books; one about abstract …

Wood Burned Doll Blocks

Today it was decided that we needed more people for the dollhouse, so I got out some scrap wood and had the kids draw figures on the pieces. Then I took my woodburner and traced over their drawings and made some “doll blocks”. It was so fast and fun that I had to try making a drawing, too. The dolls really helped spice up the doll house, …

Knights Battle: Made by Joel vs. Lego

My son and I are big Lego fans, and he just got a new knight that has a moveable arm. It looked like a lot of fun, so I thought I’d try and make a wooden version so we could have a friendly dual. We had a great time making a little video too. (Spoiler alert: Lego wins :) We’re already drawing up plans for additional wooden knight accessories, …

Easy DIY Modern Platform Dollhouse

I came up with some simple modern dollhouse designs for my book, Made to Play. This is one design that didn’t make it in the book, so I thought I’d share it here. It’s very fast and easy to make. All you need is a board, (any length is fine) and two small strips of wood for the feet. Then glue or nail the feet to the main board. It …

Toys for Music Video

I’ve been given the exciting honor of creating a music video for the amazing Portland band, Mnemonic Sounds. It’s going to be a ballet of puppets and toys, which I think will go perfectly with the band’s enchanting electronic pop sound. We’re going to shoot the video next week, and I can’t wait! Until then, here’s …

Flower Building Toy

My daughter loves flowers. And around the same time I thought of the branch tree idea, I came up with this flower building toy. I used some scrap wood and cut out shapes, then painted them. Then I drilled holes into a bunch of thick dowel pieces to make stacking beads for the stems. The end result is a toy that allows the child to make their own various …

Branch Trees

We’ve been having some more windy days with small sticks falling into our yard. So I took a piece of scrap board and drilled some holes into it and made a little forest building toy. It was fun sticking the branches in to build the forest, but it was even more exciting when my son turned it into a scene for his Lego figures. It might also be a …

Catapult Toy

Last week I made this wooden catapult toy. I was originally going to have it toss paper balls but thought it would be cool to sew some instead. (Similar to the yo-yo balls I made awhile back.) It worked really well. The kids both had a real kick trying to make a basket. I made each ball have slightly different weight, so you have to adjust your technique …

Wooden Dolls Giveaway

My last giveaway was so fun I thought I’d do one more for the holidays. The prize this time is two of my wooden dolls, complete with vintage fabric doll clothes that I just sewed yesterday. The dolls are solid maple and finished with food grade beeswax. My kids, nieces and nephews have been playing with these doll sets for a couple of years now. …

Small Elephant Puzzle Giveaway

I recently received a great gift of some beautiful vintage birch plywood from my wife’s grandfather.  So to test the wood, I cut a smaller version of my elephant puzzle just for fun.  It turned out being so cute that I decided to make two of them so I could try doing a small giveaway.  So here it is.  If you want to be entered to “win” …

City Block

I recently scored a free box of wood scraps and in it was this fabulous old cedar block.  I decided to paint it and turn it into a “city block”.  I think it might be a good block for the Vintage Wood Figures to hang out with.