Toys Handmade from Driftwood

Dollhouse bed

Wooden toys are in fashion again, thanks to an awareness around sustainable living and the use of more natural materials in our lives. However they are often expensive and difficult to find.

I have a solution to this, and I thought that I would share my approach to making my own handmade toys from driftwood.

Often as I walk the beach I come across unusual pieces of driftwood that jump out at me because of their shape or colour. I can see the potential for them to be transformed into something unique and practical.

I wanted to share with you, some of the driftwood toys and resources that I have created from these little treasures, and demonstrate how anyone with a little imagination can  do the same.

Dollhouse furniture

Collecting your driftwood

While you are out searching it’s best not to go out with a particular idea for a toy in your mind. Remain open to all possibilities.

  • Look for solid flat, or unusual shapes.
  • Sticks of a variety of size and thickness
  • hollow logs
  • branches
  • pieces that resemble animals, birds fish

Make sure they are not water logged or you will have to store them for quite some time before they are dry enough to work with. Often this can take between three to six months. I don’t think you will be wanting to wait that long.

Check for old rusty nails or wire sticking out of the wood (you sometimes get this with old fence or boat timber)

Deciding what you will create:

You may already have several ideas and be inspired by the pieces you have found, but if you haven’t, spread out your treasures and see if you can visualize anything. You’d be amazed at what you can come up with.

Think about who you are creating something for and what they might  like.

Take a look online and get some crafty ideas, there are many sites for this. Pinterest is a good one for these type of crafts.

Once you have decided what you are going to make, you will need to decide how you will put it together.

You may need to use nails or screws or just a very strong wood glue to hold your toy together.

I would suggest good preparation here, as it can be quite frustrating to be halfway through a project and find you are missing a key component.

Driftwood dollhouse

Tools and Supplies

Find a clear space where you can spread everything out and be able to leave it safely if needed.

Some of the tools and supplies you may need:

  • Sandpaper and sanding block,
  • plane.
  • hammer and nails
  • drill, hand or electric
  •  saw or jigsaw
  • dowling
  • Strong wood  glue
  •  screws
  • furniture oil or laquer for finishing (or you may choose to leave it natural)

Now here is where you let your creative side out. Don’t worry if you can’t think of anything yet, browse some images online or wait until that perfect idea comes to you and you feel inspired.

Driftwood dolls bed
Bed frame

A collection of ideas for inspiration

I have made musical instruments like shakers with bells on from wood with twists and knots in them and beautiful wood grains. These are very simple to make. Do make sure they are sanded back to prevent splinters in tiny hands.

They make wonderful gifts for infants too or an addition to a treasure basket. You can create your own styles depending on the pieces you have aquired.

What about a dollhouse and some furniture. You can even make little people from sticks with faces painted on them.Some of your smaller pieces and sticks come in handy here.

I also made one that children also use as a dinosaur cave and a garage. These are referred to as open-ended resources and can be used in different ways by adding a variety of materials alongside them to stimulate children’s imagination. One toy, many uses. This could keep them busy for hours indoors or outdoors.

Driftwood truck

Vehicles: 

  • Truck: I recently found an old misshapen plank and immediately saw a potential truck. It has a unique rustic look to it and could be painted as well.
  • Boat: Another piece had a kind of diamond shape and was flat and solid. It did take some time for an idea to come to me but eventually I was able to create a boat with again that old rustic look.
  • I have several other projects underway, but one of the benefits as you can probably see in the images provided is that these toys are made to last. They won’t break easily and when they eventually do they can be fixed, by just replacing the wood with new pieces that are easy to access.

    Driftwood boat

Creatures: 

  • fish
  • birds
  • animals
  • turtles and lizards
Fish head shaped driftwood

If you manage to gather a collection of bits that resemble these types of wild life you could also create a treasure or story basket for children to explore. See if they see what you do or can guess what they are.

Another idea is to collect all the leftover smaller pieces that you have gathered and create a natural construction set from them. You can add shells, stones and pine cones if you like. this way there is little or no waste and more toys!

These are just a few ideas, and I could list them all day, but you are going to want to personalize your own.

House, cave or garage

 

The last step

So now it is time for you to get out there and start searching for some materials and those inspiring little treasures that will help you create something magical. It does not need to be driftwood that you decide to use.

I do because it it is freely available to me and in abundance. You may want to use branches or old fencing timber or something else along these lines. I guess that really depends on what is available to you. You may also choose to purchase your materials.

So happy hunting and creating your own toys. With Christmas not far away, you could save yourselves some money too.

Feel free to share your ideas and if you would enjoy seeing more posts like this please leave a comment below.

Thank you

Cass

 

 

 

 

 

16 Replies to “Toys Handmade from Driftwood”

  1. It’s amazing what can be made from wood and a little bit imagination. I’m all for re-using natural materials instead of always buying expensive toys. This is not only nature friendly, it can also be a great shared hobby to do with the kids (if they’re a bit older).

    Thanks for explaining this in an easy to understand manner, so I know what to look out for and what to do.

    1. Hello Laura and thank you for dropping in. This is also something you can do with younger children if you are guiding and supervising. It always amazes me what our little ones have to contribute. I appreciate your input and you are welcome to drop in whenever you like.

      Cheers Cass

  2. I love the reduce, reuse, and recycle movement that is happening these days, and your article was a perfect glance of how that works in real life. The toys were unique, beautiful and seemed easy to construct. A few questions I had while reading, How durable are these toys? I live in south Louisiana, we lack driftwood, what materials would you recommend I use to assemble some of these adorable toys? How long have you seen the toys keep a child entertained? In this world of video games and TV it was refreshing to see old fashioned toys pop up. Great work and I will be checking in to see if you cover decor at any point!

    1. Hello Ashleigh, thanks for stopping by and sharing with me. I wonder if you have old fencing or fence posts? Maybe wooden pallets or packing crates. Broken furniture could also be a source of some interesting pieces. I find that these toys are more durable than store bought and children will spend a lot of time playing with and exploring these, often preferring them to other toys. Thank you for your comment and drop by anytime. Cheers Cass

  3. Your post is one of the best posts I have seen all day.

    I live by the beach and there is drift wood galore. I never even thought of doing something like this before.

    Now I have some ideas and I will certainly look at the beach in a different way later today when I see it!

    I love your photos, they are so cute and inspiring.

    I have book marked the page so I can visit again.

    Thanks again!

    Tim

    1. Thank you Tim you have just increased the size of my ego:) So glad to have inspired you and I think you are going to feel addicted to it once you start. Thanks for the comment on my photos, they are all my own imagery as I want to try to remain authentic. Good luck with your driftwood collecting and maybe you could return to inspire me with your own creations.Cheers Cass

  4. Hello Cass,

    I love handmade products and really like your idea of using driftwood to make toys. I think of these are decorative items more than toys 😉 The driftwood boat is amazing – love it!

    Can I craft a Christmas tree out of it? A small center piece will be nice for the dining table. I think this will be a fun family project. 

    Many thanks for the idea, Cass.

    Sharon

    1. Hi Sharon, thanks for reading my post and in answer to your question, YES you can make amazing Christmas trees! I made a standing one for a table and a hanging one for a wall or outside a while back. I need to make some more and will be writing a natural Christmas blog soon, So keep me book marked and pop back for a visit:)

      Cheers Cass

  5. This is a really solid and cool post I have heard about others us My drift wood as a source of their creations. Me I am not close to any ocean about a few hours so do me it would be a little harder unless I go there and search one weekend. 

    I have always loved seeing how a simple piece of wood or material that may look like junk to one person, then to another it is like a treasure trove of ideas for things you can create with it. That is where the creative mind comes into play because  look at it when we are kids you have put examples above.  Our parents would get us a gift that had a big box  as kids our imaginations are boundless and we will, use that box and play in it in different ways.

    I have always liked woodworking so this right here was a post I really enjoyed, because if you really look at it anything laying around could be a piece of art if you have a creative mind that is.

    I will have to reference back to this article i will have to start doing some drift wood art one of these days thanks for the share

    Matt

    1. Hi Matt, I think the secret is to maintain that childlike thinking and to view the world through the eyes of a child. Then it all comes naturally. I enjoy hearing from others that have talents or interests in similar things too. If you do start creating, I would love to hear about it and maybe you could share some pictures as well? Until next time!

      Cheers Cass

      1. I totally agree with you about having that childlike way of thinking and it comes naturally.

        When I get the time really sit down and create my creations with some drift wood and wood in general I will share.

        I have always liked to connect with people with similar interests it makes life a lot better you know? Thanks again for all the great information

        Matt

  6. Hi Cass,

    What great ideas! I never would have thought about doing something like this and for sure my granddaughter would love it. We live in Florida and 20 minutes to the beach. She would love exploring and gathering drift wood to see what can be made from it. Loved, loved this post!

    1. Thank you so much Cathy, I am sure your granddaughter would love that. What a special thing to be able to share the experience together. Thanks for stopping by and pop back anytime for new ideas or to share your experience.
      Cheers Cass

  7. Very clever! I would have never thought of using driftwood to make things out of. Have you ever given thought to posting these up on Etsy? I’m pretty sure they would be a hit there!

    1. Hi Dave thank you for dropping by. That is a good idea, I generally sell through my facebook page but Etsy would be great . Thanks.😊

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