December 31, 2012


For Christmas this year I wanted to focus my energy on giving my daughter handmade gifts that would last – not until next year or the next garage sale – but for her childhood and perhaps be shared with future little brothers or sisters. Something of real value, made with my own two hands, with her especially in mind.

She loves to imitate us, she is enamored with all things technology (translation: buttons!) and we love to hike and go on long walks and take lots of pretty pictures. So I thought a camera of her very own would be the perfect gift! She would need something simple, easy to use and durable…oh yeah, and she is 15 months old.

I’d seen these gorgeous toy cameras on Etsy, but really wanted to make her something myself.  And lacking the resources (ahem I procrastinate, a lot) for varied types/colors of wood   and no fancy wood working tools – it needed to be something very simple.

So using this one for inspiration, I decided to see what I could come up with on my own.

Here is what you will need:


wood block approx 1.5″ x 3.25″ x 5″ (Lowes – Free! A very nice employee found and cut a piece of scrap pine for me that was just the right size!)
7/32″ wooden pegs (JoAnn $1.99)
wooden ‘wheels’ (JoAnn $1.99)
wooden spools or beads for the ‘mode dial’
wood glue
safety glasses
small hand held saw
not pictured:
hand sander/sand paper (removal & fine grit)
7/32″ drill bit

*If you’d like to make a camera strap you’ll need a basic sewing machine (can be stitched by hand as well), some thread, and several scraps of fabric

1. First cut your scrap wood camera ‘body’ to the desired size.  Sand corners, edges and any blemishes with removal grit (50-80) sandpaper, then sand the whole body and all edges and corners with fine grit (120-180) sandpaper.

camera_spool cut sand 

2. Cut your spools to size for your ‘mode dial’ and/or your ‘lens’ part. *I wanted to attach the wheel here along with a large spool (cut in half) so that I could better simulate a real camera (aperture, distance, depth rings) but my wooden pegs weren’t long enough – still trying to figure out a way to attach this and will update if I come up with a good solution. The button top of the peg will serve as the ‘shutter release’ a top the small spool/’mode dial’.


3. Measure and mark the desired location on top of the camera for your mode dial, front for your lens, and sides if you would like to attach a camera strap.


4. Carefully drill your 4 holes with your 7/32″ drill bit – for the top, depth will not matter much, but take care not to drill through the body of the camera when you make the hole for the lens, and make your side holes about 3/4 the length of peg (drill a little at a time, inserting the peg to check to be sure about 1/4 of the peg still sticks out – you will use this to tie your strap onto the camera).


5. Attach the ‘mode dial’ (top small spool) and insert a wooden peg.


6. Attach the wheel/’lens’ the same way.

camera_strap steps 

7. If you would like to make a strap, you can do so fairly easily. I made a quilted scrap fabric strap with some super cute tiny scraps begging to pulled out of the scrap heap for new life. I have been waiting to use the strawberries for just the right project for quite some time!  Piece right sides together until you achieve your desired length (measure your kiddo to determine a good length). I made my strap 2.75″ inches wide with a 1/2″ seam allowance (where possible!). Flip and press your seams.  Pick a fabric for the back and measure out a small scrap of batting or fleece for a quilted look. Measure and draw out your pattern (it always helps me to follow a line!). With right sides together add your batting to the back and pin a small scrap of ribbon, leather cord, or twill tape (mine were about 10″ long each) to either end facing the body and extend past the stitch line. You will use these to tie to your strap to the camera). Stitch along all sides leaving about 2.5″ gap on the side to flip your strap right side out. Back stitch at the beginning and end of your gap hole.  Trim excess fabric with pinking shears or scissors. Turn right side out.  Press and top stitch for a more finished look and to close up the gap you left in the side. (Another option is to leave off the ties and do sew a small 1/4″ button hole in each end of the strap. This would make the strap more secure.)


8. Insert the side pegs and tie on your camera strap.

**Options – you can rub a natural oil (like jojoba) or beeswax over the parts before assembling to seal them and bring out the color of the wood, and/or apply a very small amount of wood glue to the pegs for an extra secure fit.  I chose not to use glue until I have solved my large spool/lens problem.

Here’s what I’m hoping to do:


9. Admire your handmade goodness and put it in the chubby little hands of a budding photographer!

camera_08 camera_09

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