Baby-Safe Colored Blocks

So, I don’t know if it’s shown much yet, but I have a profound love of woodworking. Something about the smell of sawdust, the feel of well-sanded wood, the look of the grain– it all has a special place in my heart.

So, when I think of what toys I want my daughter to play with, what else? I want her to have wooden toys. (And, being me, I just have to make them.)

I started off my adventure with a pack of plain wooden blocks. Unfinished, sanded smooth, and about 1 cubic inch apiece.

Next, I pulled up this lovely tutorial from my sister’s site.

So I got four little containers out, covered the bottoms with a teeny bit of water, and put some food coloring in, about 1 part food coloring to every 5 or 6 of water. I painted the coloring on 4 blocks this way.

She also suggested putting drops of food coloring directly onto the wood, for stubborn spots.

Me, being me, (who else?) I had to try a couple different ways.

The four on the left are dyed with drops of coloring painted directly on the wood. The four on the left were diluted.
The four on the left are dyed with drops of coloring painted directly on the wood. The four on the right were diluted.

See the difference? Pretty striking. 🙂

Of course, I couldn’t stop there! Next, I just sat a couple of blocks in the dye containers.

green, yellow, blue, and red!
green, yellow, blue, and red!

…and let it soak up into the block, about halfway…


And then pulled it out, tapped the drips off into the container, and set it bare-wood-side-down in another of the colors. (Sorry I don’t have a picture of this!)

I let the dye soak up the other side until the colors sorta…meshed.

These really came out nice.

Yaay! They look so festive.
Yaay! They look so festive.

I’ll polish them in the morning. ^_^



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BEHOLD: I made a sword! 😀

 For Halloween, I went to a really fun costume party as a Samurai. I made a kimono and hakama, but as I was trying on the costume, I thought: “it’s just not going to look like a samurai without a katana.”

What to do next? Make a wooden katana, of course!

I found a piece of lumber which was of an acceptable length (roughly a yard) and sketched up the basic outline of a katana, which is pretty basic, just a simple sword with one straight edge and one curved slightly at the end, because it’s a single-bladed sword.


So, I just cut it down nearly to where I wanted it with the saw I had available (which is to say, a circular saw) and then used a mallet and chisel to define the hilt a little better. The last bit of smoothing out was done with a razor blade and a power sander (because hand sanding on something so big is tedious, at best) until the blade side was defined and there were no splintery bits left.


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Guess what I did this weekend! Go on, guess.

one black walnut button, (with its bark still on) and one black walnut twig

I started making buttons!

Well, I have yet to finish sanding any yet, due to a suprise moving party an hour’s drive away, but oh, well. I can do that tomorrow.

Anyway, it’s a lot easier to make some nice hardwood buttons, if you have all the hardware and tools necessary.


  • grab a straight stick or limb of your favorite kind of wood/ the available kind of wood
  • make sure it dries out for about a week- any shorter, and it may still be too green to go through your saws/drills without damage to them. Sap can seriously gum up the works of your tools.
  • cut off all sticks and twigs attatched to your straight stick that branch off from it; these joints in the wood would be best to cut as close to the bottom+top of, not using the wood in this area simply because the shape is more difficult to work with.
  • as you begin sawing your buttons (I used a band saw) you’ll want to first slice as sqaurely as you possibly can the end of the branch where it had detatched from the original tree. In my case, I used a limb from our brush pile that had been blown down in a storm, so it was fairly cracked and uneven at this part, and I had to saw off more to make it square with the edges of the limb. However much you need to take off, the object is to make the end a flat end of a cylinder, like a dowel rod.
  • my saw came with a little wall/divider thing that clamps on to the work area, and I decided to move it right where I wanted the thickness of my buttons to be (which is what it’s designed to do)and just went at it. Since the branch was already dried out, I didn’t worry about stripping the bark off first. As you’re sawing, try to keep a pair of needlenose pliers handy, (or tweezers would do in a pinch, I suppose, but I wouldn’t reccomend it) because the buttons may get stuck in between the blade and the wall. As concerning as this may seem, a good way to get it out is simply to saw another button, which will automatically push the first out of the way. The new one may take its place, of course, but if you’re really concerned about it being there, you can nudge it out with the needlenose pliers, or turn off the saw and remove it. After the blade stops moving, of course. I don’t know abut anyone else, but I like my fingers just where they are.
  • After you’ve cut enough buttons-to-be, simply get your drill out, select a small enough (or big enough) bit for the size holes that would suit your button, and drill either 2 or 4 of them. When I did this step, I got out the button jar (which is a good way to store buttons, I think) with the industrially made buttons in it, just for some reference on how big the holes should be, and where they should go, proportionally.
  • then, strip off the bark and sand, and poof! You have handmade wooden buttons!
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