Handmade Lord of the Rings Wooden Toy Figures

Handmade Wooden Gandalf and Bilbo Toy Figures in Forest
“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.”

–Bilbo Baggins, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book I, Chapter 1


Handmade Wooden Gandalf and Bilbo Toy Figures on Table
I first read The Hobbit when I was in the 5th grade after receiving it as a gift from my parents. I loved this book and immediately began reading The Lord of the Rings afterward. At that age some of The Lord of the Rings went a little over my head, and it took me a while to get through, but I trudged on anyway captivated by the setting, the characters and their adventures. It all seemed so real and fantastic! I longed to be IN that world, to walk down that road from Hobbiton on an adventure of my own. Even now I find it difficult not to think of Middle Earth while hiking through the woods and exploring any trail I might find myself on. Although I’ve read many fantasy and science fiction books since, I always come back to Tolkien’s works as my favorites.

Naturally, now that I have kids of my own I want to share this world with them. I began telling my two sons stories from the books (my 4-year-old especially enjoyed hearing about Moria and the Balrog), but I also wanted to give them something to play with. I chose to make wooden figures of two of my favorite, and most well known characters, Mr. Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey.

Handmade Wooden Gandalf and Bilbo Toy Figures Blank

Materials Used

Handmade Wooden Gandalf and Bilbo Toy Figures Blank and Wood Burned

Process

One of my favorite activities with our kids is building with unit blocks which we’ve purchased here, here and here. Even though flashy plastic toys like Transformers or anything else you find in the toy aisle at Target are fun, there just seems to be something special about playing with simple, quality wooden toys. I wanted these figures to match our blocks and decided to use hard maple since that is what the blocks are made with. My first step was to sketch Bilbo and Gandalf on paper to figure out how best to bring them to life in wood. I looked at some of my favorite artists’ versions of the characters for inspiration. Once I had some sketches I was happy with I copied them over to the maple. Using my scroll saw I followed the pencil outline to cut the figures out. Next I used my rotary tool with sanding attachment to quickly eliminate rough edges and do some minimal sculpting. Using progressively smoother sandpaper I sanded the figures until they were smooth. At this point I had to redraw the pencil details since I had sanded them all off. Then I used my woodburner to trace over the pencil, making the details more permanent by burning them into the wood.

Handmade Wooden Gandalf and Bilbo Toy Figures Burned

Woodburning

When I first started burning wood I used a cheap soldering iron type woodburner that I found at Michael’s craft store. This cheap woodburner was clumsy to use and extremely frustrating. When I discovered that a much better alternative exists I immediately bought a Colwood Woodburner. The difference between these two products is unbelievable. If you’re at all interested in woodburning I would highly suggest spending the extra money for a quality woodburner, as it significantly increased my working speed and decreased my frustration since using one is more like using an actual pen as opposed to a soldering iron.

Colwood Wood Burner and Wood Burning Pens
“As they sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and a jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves.”
–J.R.R TOLKIEN The Hobbit

Handmade Wooden Gandalf and Bilbo Toy Figures on Table
“The stars were out in a dark sky above the trees. He thought of the jewels of the dwarves shining in dark caverns. Suddenly in the wood beyond The Water a flame leapt up – probably somebody lighting a wood-fire – and he thought of plundering dragons settling on his quiet Hill and kindling it all to flames. He shuddered; and very quickly he was plain Mr Baggins of Bag-End, Under-Hill, again.”
–J.R.R TOLKIEN The Hobbit

Handmade Wooden Gandalf and Bilbo Toy Figures Outside on Fence
“‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.
‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’”

–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings




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Handmade Lord of the Rings Wooden Toy Figures by Max Williams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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