Using figured wood for making wooden toys is can really bring them to life. Figured wood is simply wood that has a striking appearance or grain pattern. Most commonly used woods for kids toys have figured versions that are available to buy. The most common of them all being Maple, which comes in several types of figure including Flamed, Quilted, Curly, and Spalted.
This is a piece of Curly Maple that I split open on the table saw. The color is like any other piece of Maple, but notice the wavy pattern on the board. These are from compression in the tree, and the result is a more beautiful looking piece of Maple.
Most of the time, figured wood is going to be more expensive than a plain version of the same species. The rarity is what drives the price, and figured pieces are always going to be more.
However, if you pick out a species that has a more common chance of having figured woodworking present, then you can reduce your expenses a little. Figured Maple is one of the least expensive you can buy. The pieces are found commonly in Maple trees, and therefore are not nearly as scarce. That being said, very highly figured and beautiful pieces can still fetch top dollar, but pieces with a nice amount of figure are still fairly inexpensive. Look around your local hardwood store and you will see several examples.
Figured wood changes dramatically when you apply a finish.
On the surface, figured wood does not tend to look that much different than plain wood. Once you know what you are looking for, you will be able to see the subtle differences and pick out a great looking piece. The real magic in figured wood is when you apply a finish.
The wooden toy wall sander that is pictured on the left is a perfect example of how a finish works on figured wood. I applied finish only on the bottom half of the base to show the contrast. The top section of wood looks nice, but it looks nothing like the bottom area.
Combining figured wood and straight grained wood can provide contrast.
The straight grain Walnut center also lends contrast to the Maple. Not only through color, but in the grain as well. The Walnut has very straight and regular grain lines. In contrast, the Maple has wavy and irregular markings. These two things combine together to make a wooden toy that looks far better than if it were made from a couple pieces of wood without any thought for how they were placed. Figured wood made the difference here, and the results are beautiful.
If you have any questions on Figured Wood For Making Wooden Toys tips, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest! Happy building!