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Imitating a steam locomotive and its wagons, this small wooden train, a classic child toy, is simple to make from scrap wood and salvage parts.

make a small wooden train

Inspired by steam models with whistle, this little train consists of pieces of wood mostly from fir or beech scutes, a hard wood, easy to cut and without splinters. The simple design includes a locomotive that pulls a loaded wooden wagon and a dump car (open).
Difficulty: 1/4
Cost: About 30 €
Time: 2 days
Equipment: meter, pencil, ruler, clamps, hammer, truscan, screwdriver, grater, sander, paintbrush, workbench, radial electric saw or framer saw, handsaw, drill press or stand mounted, drill bits, wood wick Ø 18, hole saw Ø 40 mm

Composition of the little wooden train

  • The locomotive consists of a platform of 245 x 70 x 15 mm fir, on which comes to rest the "boiler" which formerly operated these machines.
  • This is formed of a parallelepiped base capped a half-round, cut in a recovery mold.
  • The front of the boiler is embellished with a plastic pellet with striated surface, imitating a hatch of visit as on certain models of steam trains.
  • The boiler is extended at the back by a cabin made of beech planks with two portholes and covered with a sloping roof.
  • The six wheels of the locomotive turn on Ø 4.5 x 40 mm wood screws. Attached to the side edges of the platform, they form independent "axles".
  • The two cars are connected to the locomotive by an eye bolt (at the front) and a plastic hook (at the back).
  • The number of towed vehicles may be greater with, for example, a tank, a container flat car, etc.
  • Careful sanding avoids any splinters that could injure the child and ensures a flawless finish.

Manufacture of the locomotive boiler

Manufacture of the locomotive boiler

  • The cutting of the wood can be done with a simple hand saw. But a radial saw ensures very perpendicular cuts like here, for the fir fall forming the body of the boiler.

Make small wooden goods train: small

  • The body is surmounted by a section of semi-rounded wood (1.40, H. 20 mm) cut into the molding of a kitchen worktop.

Using a drill press

  • Drill 3 Ø 18 mm holes at the top of the flare to accommodate the chimney (at the front) and the two steam whistles.
  • Use a drill press (preferably).

Adjustment of the section of the train

  • Glue the half round on the body and hold the two pieces together with clamps. They are a little longer than necessary to adjust the sloping cut of the front of the locomotive.

Cutting the front of the locomotive

  • Measure the tilt of the front of the locomotive.
  • Bridle the piece and cut it with a fine-toothed hand saw.

Shaping the chimney of the wooden locomotive

  • The flared bowl chimney is shaped with a rasp in a curtain rod section (Ø 18 mm base).

Feet of chairs for train chimneys

  • Shape two cylinders (Ø 18 x 30 mm) and style them with rubber tips for chair legs.

Form the roof of the locomotive

  • A fir board (70 x 15 mm) forms the roof.
  • On each side, 20 mm from the edge, draw with truscan two parallel lines delimiting the inclined planes to achieve by chamfering the edges to the plane and then to the rasp.

Cutting the cabin of the locomotive

Drilling the portholes of the toy train

  • In a beech plank (65 mm wide and 15 mm thick) forming one of the walls of the cabin, drill 2 holes Ø 18 mm, 15 mm on each side of the axis, for form the portholes.
  • Cut the piece 75 mm long.

Cutting and sanding the cabin of the small train

  • Cut the piece 90 mm long, sand (80 and then 120 grit), then round off the corners and thin the edges.

Realization of the locomotive

Radial saw

  • Use a radial saw, or a framer saw equipped with a fine-toothed blade.

Locating Locator Fasteners

  • On the back of the platform, draw the markings of the fixing points of the two walls (located at the rear of the locomotive), then those of the boiler (at the front) counting a withdrawal of 5 mm. Drill 7 holes Ø 4 mm.

Screw the parts of the locomotive

  • Position the boiler and walls on the platform and hold them by means of clamps.
  • Screw the countersunk screws Ø 4 x 35 mm: 3 for the boiler, 4 (arranged in square) for the two sides of the cabin.

Collage of different parts of the wooden train

  • All these elements can be simply glued.

Fixing the roof of the locomotive

  • Fix the roof with vinyl glue at the top of the walls, with an edge of 10 mm at the front and 15 mm at the back.
  • It is also possbile to center the roof and distribute the overhang symmetrically.

Cutting the wheels of the train

  • Cut 6 wheels with Ø 40 mm hole saw into plywood (15 mm thick).
  • Drill a central hole (Ø 8 mm).

A plastic tube in the wooden wheels for better rolling

  • In the central hole, insert a plastic tube (inner Ø 5 mm, outer Ø 8 mm) 17 mm long.
  • These tubes provide better rolling.

Drilling pilot holes

  • Mark, mark and drill 3 pilot holes (Ø 2.5 to 3 mm) on each side edge.
  • Respect the perpendicularity of the holes.

Watch out for squaring

  • In each pilot hole, insert a domed-head screw (Ø 4.5 x 40 mm), the smooth part of which measures approximately 15 mm.
  • Check the squareness.

Finished wooden locomotive

  • Screw the six wheels, the front bolt and the rear hook, insert the chimney and the whistles in their housing, stick the front pellet: the locomotive is finished.
  • It will have to be disassembled for painting.

Assembly of wooden wagons

Manufacture of wagons for small wooden train

  • To make the goods wagon, stick on the edges of the platform, two boards of plywood (10 mm thick).
  • Put in press.
  • Then glue two front and back panels.
  • Treat the squareness.

Imitation of joined boards

  • To imitate the joined boards, practice 3 parallel furrows on all sides of the wagon.
  • Drill 4 pilot holes for the wheels.

Screwing the wheels of the wooden wagon

  • Screw the wheels, the hook and the hook, after finishing the joints with the triangular file and sand all the surfaces, including the tread of the wheels, with a sanding block (grain 80 then 120).

Holes for the loading amounts of the log car

  • In the platform of the log car, drill 6 holes (Ø 8 mm) parallel, to accommodate the amounts ensuring the maintenance of the load.

Push the trunnions gently

  • Using a hammer (or rubber mallet), push the pins (Ø 8 x 55 mm) forming the side panels.
  • Use caution to avoid splitting wood.

Attention to the direction of assembly of the train

  • Observe the mounting direction: The additional 2 mm of the center sleeve is on the platform side to facilitate the running.

Stacking logs in the wooden train

  • Cut 6 sections of 150 mm long in Ø 16 mm beech trunnion.
  • Stack these "logs". Well positioned, they must not move.

Painting the small wooden train

Gesso plaster or sanding

  • After disassembling all the parts, apply a layer of primer on all surfaces.
  • A white primer, Gesso coated type, will dispense with sanding.

Paint the wooden train with glossy acrylic paint

  • Apply two coats of acrylic paint (here glossy finish), offered in low volume packaging (here in 45 ml jars) in craft and hobby stores.

To varnish or paint the wagons of the train

  • Pass on the six sections of trunnion two coats of clear matte lacquer to preserve the natural shade of the beech.
  • Paint the chimney in black.

Assembly of the locomotive after drying

  • After complete drying, reassemble all the parts of the small train.
  • Screw the inspection hatch to the front of the locomotive, insert under each screw head wheels, a flat washer acting as a hubcap.
  • Attach a nylon string to the eye bolt.

Wooden train wheels: an effective alternative

Wooden train wheels: an effective alternative

If there is no bell saw, make the wheels using a Ø 35 mm wooden curtain rod.

  • Begin by slightly grinding its diameter to the rasp and then force it into a 34-40 mm PVC pipe, which will prevent the wood from cracking during work.
  • Then cut the rod and its gangue into rings (15 mm thick), into which a central hole is drilled to insert the screws and fix the whole to the platform.

Supplies and assembly plan for the small train

(dimensions in mm)
• Fir plank 70 x 15, approx. L. 800, plywood plywood, ep. 15 and 10, fir falls 54 x 35 x 200 (boiler body), beech board 65 x 15 x 200 (cabin walls).
• Recovery molding or curtain rod Ø 35
• Ø 16 trunnion (logs) and Ø 8
• Plastic tubes Ø int. 5, ext. 8
• countersunk head screw Ø 4 x 35, countersunk head screw Ø 4, 5 x 40, flat washers Ø 5
• Pitons, recovery plastic hooks, nylon rope 2 m
• 2 rubber tips for chair legs
• 1 plastic pad with ridged surface (recovered here in an electrical cabinet)
• Vinyl glue, corundum abrasive paper (80 and 120 grit)
• Gesso plaster, 4 jars 45 ml of nontoxic acrylic paint, clear matte varnish

sketch of the little wooden train to do it yourself


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