Children enjoy engaging in pretend play as early as age 2. Wooden riding toys are one of many items that permit children to engage in pretend play, develop interests and act out knowledge they have gained about the world and the way it works. Wooden versions of large machines, such as tractors, fire engines, front loaders and dump trucks, are fascinating to young children. These wheeled toys will provide hours of fun. This photo of a wood slab tractor is one of many ways to make a tractor from wood. However, slab wood is very heavy. This project will use plywood instead, to make a lighter, easier-to-maneuver riding toy.
Sand all wood pieces using a belt sander and coarse, medium, fine and extrafine sandpaper.
Take the rear wheel assemblies from two old children's wagons. Attach front and rear wheel assembly to the 24-by-72-by-1/2-inch plywood tractor base using carriage bolts, fender washers, lock washers and hex nuts. Use a power drill to make holes in the tractor base for the bolts. Position each wheel assembly approximately as shown in the photo that accompanies this step.
Assemble the engine box from the 24-by-24-by-1/2-inch plywood front and back plates and the 24-by-36-by-1/2-inch top and side plates using 1-inch wood screws. The side plates should be positioned between the front and back plates of the engine box. The top should be flush with the front edge of the front plate, as well as with the outside edges of the side plates. The box will be open at the bottom. Attach the engine box to the tractor base platform using wood screws, working from the underside of the tractor base. If the child who will ride the tractor weighs more than 50 pounds, you may want to add weight to the engine box by using 1-inch-thick plywood instead of 1/2-inch-thick plywood.
Assemble the seat box. The dimensions given in the materials section will create a seat box 12 inches high and 24 inches across. Adjust seat box height so that the child is able to sit comfortably, feet flat on the ground while pushing the tractor. Attach the seat box flush with the rear edge of the tractor base. Have the child sit on the tractor. Decide where to cut the tractor base to allow the child to use his feet to push the tractor. Make D-shaped curves 15 to 18 inches long in each side of the tractor base, where the child's legs would brush against the sides of the base while pushing. Sand and round off the edges.
Paint the engine box, seat box and tractor base green. Use epoxy to attach two 6-inch-diameter pie plates as headlights. Add yellow and black trim as desired. Apply several coats of clear, acrylic UV-resistant deck treatment, allowing to dry between each coat.
Things You Will Need
- Belt sander with coarse, medium, fine and extra fine sandpaper
- Power drill, 1/8-inch drill bit, 1/4-inch drill bit
- 2 rear-wheel assemblies from junked child's wagons with 1/4-inch-diameter bolts, fender washers, lock washers and hex nuts
- Large and small wheels
- Steering wheel
- Green, yellow and black acrylic paint
- Clear, UV resistant deck treatment
- 2 24-by-24-by-1/2-inch plywood boards
- 3 24-by-36-by-1/2-inch plywood boards
- 1 24-by-72-inch plywood board
- 2 12-by-12-by-1/2-inch plywood boards
- 3 24-by-12-by-1/2-inch plywood boards
- 1 box of 1 1/2-inch wood screws
- 1 box of 1-inch wood screws
- Two 6-inch-diameter aluminum pie pans