Wooden toys have been popular among children for centuries. Even stone age children had toys crafted from bits of wood and bone, but it wasn't until the early twentieth century that wooden toy cars became popular. The main reason, cars were unknown of before then. They hadn't been invented yet.
Children today are inundated with a plethora of various toys to play with. Some of the most popular toys are combinations of plastic, electronics, synthetic fur and stuffing. They depict imaginary characters from television shows and cartoons. These characteristics make them appealing to children, but only for a short amount of time. The imaginary characters often do not age with the children who quickly begin to admire new, exiting characters from new shows.
Gone is the era when toys were passed down from generation to generation. Modern toys just aren't built to last like they were in the past. During the turn of the nineteenth to twentieth century toys were often handmade from one of the most available and easy to work with materials, wood. With a little bit of work a block of wood could take on the shape of a wooden toy train, wooden toy cars, barnyard animals, and even building blocks. These toys had souls and were cherished by children and adults. It gave adults a sense of satisfaction at being able to craft a toy their children loved, and a child's imagination gave the toy life and allowed it to accomplish otherworldly feats. Flying a toy train to the moon is no problem for a kid and they will likely discover more than just moon rocks and leave a few foot prints.
Fortunately for children today, not all toys are made from plastic and involve electronics, though they sure are easy to find in many different types of stores. Wooden toys are still built to last, and parents still can have a rewarding experience crafting these toys for children. Inviting a child to watch and take part when possible on the construction of a wooden toy is a great bonding and learning experience.
Simple wooden toy cars and other toys can be easily cut or carved from blocks of soft wood such as balsa and willow. These woods may not last as long as a good hardwood such as oak, but they will be much easier to work with and still be able to last much longer than the cheap plastic toys that can become chocking hazards for children when they inevitable disintegrate. There are a number of designs on the internet and in children's craft books. The most important aspect to these toys is to sand them down to an incredibly smooth surface to prevent splinters, the first and main danger from wooden toys. This is easily avoided by sanding first with a rough grit sandpaper, then moving down to finer and finer grits until the toy is smooth enough for a toddlers rough play. After long play sessions the toy will retain its smoothness and become even more supple. A natural oil rubbed into the wood gives it a smooth finish, protects the wood and makes the toy last far longer.