How to Build a Wooden Toy Soldier

By Joanne Robitaille
A bright paint job will make your soldier look his best.
A bright paint job will make your soldier look his best.

Wooden toy soldiers are classic children’s toys as well as popular Christmas ornaments. A common type of wooden toy soldier is based off a redcoat British soldier with a beaver-skin hat. Building your own toy soldier requires only a few pieces of wood, as much of the detail is created with paint and markers. To make the toy child-sized, a wooden round-top clothespin is the ideal building material because it already has a “head” and “legs.”

Cut the hat and arms to size. A round dowel with the same or a slightly larger circumference than the clothespin is an excellent material to use as the hat because it has the necessary shape and will stand up to a lot of wear. Use a handsaw to cut it down to the size you want (tall beaver-skin hat or a shorter helmet). Cut the pointed ends off two wooden chopsticks to use as arms. Sand all three pieces until they’re smooth, then continue sanding the dowel until it has a slightly rounded end.

Nail the dowel onto the rounded top of the clothespin. Position the hat and secure it first with wood glue. Once the glue has dried, drive a nail through the top of the hat into the body of the toy soldier.

Glue the arms to the sides of the clothespin. With the center split at the bottom of the clothespin acting as the soldier’s legs, face the soldier toward you, then secure the arms to either side with wood glue. Wrap masking tape around the arms and body of the soldier to hold them in place until the glue dries.

Paint the soldier’s clothes. Traditional wooden toy soldiers have black pants and hats with a red jacket, but you can paint the uniform in whatever way you wish. To make painting easier, first paint the front of the soldier, then wait for the paint to dry before painting the back.

Draw a face onto the round top of the clothespin. Use markers for these finer details, giving your soldier eyes, a nose and a mouth. You can also add ears and hair if you choose.

Add decorative features to your toy soldier. Use gold cord held in place with craft glue as the chinstrap for the helmet or as trim along the sides of the pants. Small black beads make excellent buttons.

Things You Will Need

  • Round-top clothespin
  • Dowel
  • Handsaw
  • Wooden chopsticks
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood glue
  • Nail
  • Hammer
  • Masking tape
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Markers
  • Gold cord
  • Craft glue
  • Black beads

About the Author

Joanne Robitaille's first journalistic experience was in 1994, when she did school reports for a local newspaper, "Shoreline." Her articles now appear on various websites. Robitaille has a Bachelor of Arts in English and creative writing from the University of Windsor.