Gallery of the Dinosaurs

All of the dinosaurs on this page are based on plans found in David Wakefield's Making Dinosaur Toys in Wood. The plans and instructions are very clear and turn out some really great toys.

Here are six of the toys from the "Miniature Animated Dinosaurs" section of the book. They have held up well to a fair amount of play over the last few years with just a loose nail here and a broken tail spike there.

Most of the wood for these guys came from bed slats, wine crates, some clementine boxes and 2x4s. For the most part, I photocopied the plans and then used spray adhesive and double sided tape to hold them in place.

Stegosaurus on a bed slatDimetrodon parts with notes

Although all the toys can be made with hand tools, obviously, it is easier to use power tools. I found that my drill press and bandsaw have been indispensable in making these. I recently started using a scroll saw and have had some luck with that as well.
Legs on wine crate woodBoth sail halves were cut at the same
time using double faced tape.

I paint all the pieces with craft store acrylics before final assembly. Depending on the order of assembly, some pieces are assembled before they are finished with spray acrylic, but in the end, everything gets a non-toxic protective coat.

The Stegosaurus is a really straight forward fun design. Even with all the plates down his back, I've found that he is the easiest/quickest to build. A cam on his back axle moves his body up and down.

The Dimetrodon was the second design I made. The sail on the bright green one was routed out to create the spike effect, and in retrospect, that was BAD idea. I'm lucky I didn't hurt myself. (Always listen to the "Hey... this can't be right, it seems dangerous..." voice when the power tools are running.) Later ones I've built have 1/8 plywood from clementine boxes sandwiched on the sail (mmm sandwiches...) Also note that I've built the mouth two different ways. Whatever works. The mouth and sail move thanks to a cam on the back axle.

The Dimetrodon is a sore point in my family. Ever since watching "Journey to the Center of the Earth" as a kid, I've loved dimetrodons. The problems started when on a visit to the Natural History Museum, a volunteer there told my daughter that dimetrodon was not actually a dinosaur, but was actually an "early reptile." That's when the teasing started. Fine great, Dad's favorite dinosaur isn't even a dinosaur...whatever. I know he is still the coolest. (And by the way... Pluto is still my favorite planet!)

The Triceratops' body is made from a 2x4. Initially, I was intimidated by the idea of shaping the body with the bandsaw, but it actually was not so bad. Take your time. Make test cuts and remember that you can always take more wood off, but you can't add any back.

I know... a pink triceratops. (Well, actually fuchsia if you want to get technical.) What can I say other than, "Princess gets, what Princess wants.")

The Brontosaurus is another bed slat and wine crate critter. It is the largest of the dinosaur toys I've made and is about 17" long. A cam on his front axle causes the body to bob up and down as it is rolled.

The Pteranodon looks great and works well, but was a bit of a problem child. I built him about two years ago and I'd like to give him a tune-up at some point. His body moves thanks to cam on his axle and the arm flap because of Pitman arms attached to the wheels.
Last but not least, the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex. He body was from a piece of 2x6 (it might have actually been 2x8 now that I think of it) with wine crate appendages and a bed slat head. A dowel through his body lifts his head because of a cam on his front axle. The plans called for offsetting the wheel holes to give him a swaying motion as he walked, but I went with a smooth walking version. Again, whatever works.
T-Rex at Dawn

Since I use "googly eyes" and like to have the head pivot on a dowel and not with nails, I moved his heads pivot point back a bit. Now his head occasionally pops all the way back. Which looks like it should really hurt, but doesn't seem to faze him at all. What can I say, Rex, The King, is one tough customer.

Here are some short clips of all the above in action.

So there you have 'em. I still need to build the Hadrosaurus and I'm working on a couple of designs of my own. (Yeah, we'll see how that goes...)

Again, I highly recommend David Wakefield's  Making Dinosaur Toys in Wood. If I can make these toys, you can as well. 

Just Saying...

While we don’t necessarily need more objects, we just might benefit from more making.
- John Dunnigan


About Me

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Regular guy who likes to make stuff who lives with a very patient wife, three daughters and three cats.