Author: Richard Raffan
Publisher: The Taunton Press, USA
First published: 2013
Reviewer: Linda Nathan, Editor, AWR

When an artist and author with the stature and reputation of Richard Raffan writes a book about toymaking it certainly is something to take note of. In the course of his 35 year career Raffan has written highly regarded books for woodturners on design and technique.

We live in an increasingly digital age. Toddlers and small children operate keypads and tablets with ease and are encouraged to do so. Re-enter toys that are tactile and encourage physical skills to do with balance and motion as well as an understanding of size, shape and colour, not to mention the development of imagination. And what could be better than a child receiving a wooden toy made with love by a relative or friend?

In Turning Toys, Raffan firstly addresses issues of safety regarding toy design highlighting possible hazards and desirable features. Chapters on tools and techniques outline the requirements for completing the 18 projects in the book.

Those new to turning are catered for with chapters devoted to the sourcing and preparation of wood, safety do’s and don’ts and explanation of the basic techniques of turning cylinders, dowels and wheels.

The projects cover a wide variety of toys. There are racing cars, wheely bugs, teethers, rattles and spinning tops. Peggies are small figurines that can be turned and painted to take on whatever personality or identity the maker chooses. Balance trays, skittles and stackers are toys that will encourage fine motor skills to develop. Wands, goblets and turned fruits and vegetables will promote imaginative play.

This is a book about making things for child’s play, however it’s very much geared to the maker's enjoyment as he or she learns how to experiment with the creative opportunities for individualising each of the project ideas presented.

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