How to Build Wooden Cars


Building wooden cars with a few common hand tools can be as easy or difficult as the builder desires to make it. In this example, we build a fire truck with a few simple materials. This truck is completely wooden except for a few screws and a shoelace fire hose. The truck is suitable for decoration or as a project to make together with a child (as long as you do all of the drilling and cutting, depending on the capabilities of the child).

Things You'll Need

  • Shoelace
  • 6 chopsticks
  • 1 2x4
  • Ruler
  • Drill bit (1mm wider than the screw threads)
  • Drill
  • Dowel Rod (1-inch diameter)
  • Wide glue
  • Permanent marker
  • Red paint
  • Twist ties without paper covering
  • Nine Screws
  • Cut the end off of a 2x4 at a length of one foot. Cut it off by using a back saw and a miter box for a smooth cut at 90 degrees. Use the miter box for all cuts on the 2x4 in this build. Remove and discard any staples in the end of the board (from the lumber yard). This section will be the frame of the truck.

  • Next, cut a 4-inch length off of the end of the 2x4 to make the cab of the firetruck and a 7-inch section for the rear portion that will sit on the truck bed. Put a thin layer glue on the cab and affix it so it is on top of the frame of the truck, parallel and offset from the front of the truck by one centimeter to give the appearance of a windshield. Glue on the rear portion in a like manner on the other end but make the end of the rear portion and the frame flush. Use zip ties to secure these pieces in place as the glue cures. Do steps 3 and 4 while waiting for this process.

  • Make the wheels. Clamp the dowel rod in a vice and drill down the center with a drill bit that is a little wider than the threads on the screws. Reposition the dowel rod so that it is sideways. Cut of portions every centimeter and make each piece equal in size if possible. If the pieces are not all the same size, do not worry too much because it give the toy has a handmade feel. Use screws to screw on the wheels without disturbing the glue.

  • Make the two firetruck ladders. Cut two of the chopsticks to form the rungs of the ladders in 1-inch sections. Using the widest pieces of the chopsticks, glue the rungs in place starting at the lowest part and progressing to the thinnest sections of the ladder at the top of the ladder, which is the thinnest part of the chopstick. Allow the chopsticks to dry with contact held in place by twist ties that have the paper stripped off of them.

  • Do the finishing steps, including painting and adding the accessories. Do this step in a well-ventilated location. Spread out newspaper sheets under the area where the truck will be resting. Paint the truck red and let the paint dry. The sides may have to be painted at different times so that the dry side can be the side where the truck is resting. After the paint dries, use a black permanent marker to draw windows, door handles, the front bumper, and other details. Use the black marker to make the wheels black. Drill a small hole (or punch one with a nail) that is wide enough and deep enough for a shoelace to fit in at the very tip. Glue the shoelace in place and wind it up like you would a fire hose. Put in a screw for this hose to hang on near the back of the truck. Put on two screws for the ladders to hang from on either side of the fire truck.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use waterproof wood glue so that the paint does not dissolve the glue and it does not come apart if it gets wet. The screws work better if they have rounded heads rather than heads that taper toward the wood. If there is no drill to be found in the house, you can simply glue the wheels on (but they will not spin).
  • Do not give this toy to children who put toys in their mouths because the wood glue and permanent marker are potentially toxic. Additionally, pressure-treated wood carries harmful chemicals. Non-pressure-treated wood is highly recommended, though this designation alone cannot guarantee safety.

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