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How to Build a Toy Car from Scratch

How to Build a Toy Car from Scratch

Churning out toy cars at home may not be as easy as pie, and having your child help you in the process -- a far-fetched idea, indeed. Well, we just heard you! Here are simple toy-car-making ideas that actively involve your child in the process, and this time, it's you, who takes the backseat! ...
Mayuri Kulkarni
Last Updated: Apr 25, 2018
Childhood years are stuffed with memories, experiments, curiosity, and (How can we forget this one!) mess. And beholding a mess, indeed, leaves parents cross-eyed. Not good. Or is it? Well, to your surprise, mess is good. I call it "smart mess."

For one, experimentation is just a tidied, polished word for it. No mess, no curiosity, no experiments, ... only dim wits! You don't want this, do you? Children love to create, and they love to play. It should excite them too.

So, why not encourage them to play with what they create? An all-time favorite is cars; they have always been an object of fascination for kids. And we pick the cue!
Here are 7 procedures to make different toy cars; you can assist your child to make one. The process is fun, and the final product would leave your child asking for more. After all, when imagination is at the wheel, creativity is bound to soar!

Here goes...

Riding With
  • Milk Carton
  • Corrugated Box
  • Sponge/Carrom men
  • Water Bottle
  • Corks/Cardboard
  • Cardboard/Pencil
  • Matchbox/Toothpicks
Crafting a Toy Car
With a Milk Carton ....
milk carton car
What It Takes
  • A Milk carton
  • Straws, 2
  • Bamboo skewers, 2
  • Scissors/Box cutter
  • Construction paper, 2 sheets
  • Craft glue
  • Markers
  • Milk jug lids/Water bottle caps, 4
  • A Plastic cup (optional)
  • Aluminum Foil
Get the Feat Right
Step 1. Assemble all the requirements conforming to the cheat sheet. Wrap the carton neatly with construction paper and tape.

Step 2. The next step is to punch a hole in the center of the milk jug lids. Relax the between of the scissors, and use its inner side. Frame the center of the lid to punch a hole at the site with the blunt blade. Conduct this procedure for four bottle caps. This way you ready the wheels.

[ Parents, stay around while your engineer is at it! ]

Step 3. Now, what is with the bamboo skewers? What are they doing on site? Well, know that a bamboo skewer serves as an axle to your car. What's an axle? Simply put, it is a rod that wheels your vehicle.

Step 4. A little toil to ready the carton: Pierce two parallel holes on the sides of the carton. Your skewers would help you with it. Pierce through one side of the carton. Let the skewer run through it only to see it coming out at the opposite side of the carton. Remove the skewer. Repeat the procedure to pierce another hole to position the second axle.

Step 5. Insert the bamboo skewers in the holed bottle cap. To secure the skewer, dab craft glue in the periphery, i.e., the point where the skewer intersects the bottle cap. Let the site dry.

Step 6. Until then, we move on to snipping the straws to the size we require. It's easy. Position the milk carton flat on a surface, such that the wider side of it, faces upward. Place the straw horizontally over it, and snip its ends. Leave a tad extra on both sides, such that the tail ends peep out of the surface area of the carton. The two straws should be slightly bigger than the width of the carton.

Step 7. Let the other end of the skewer free. It is through this end that you would now slide the straw through. Insert the skewer's open end into the holes pierced through the carton. Trim the skewer from its open end. It should be appropriate to the width of the carton. Make two such axles for your car following the procedure. Position both the straw-covered skewers.

Step 8. You may now go ahead and insert the other "free" end of the skewer through the hole of another bottle cap. Wheel the car. Do you see the wheels rotating? Well, thank the skewers for the momentum!

Step 9. And now for the most exciting bit: Accessorizing the car! Go ahead ... .
  • Make a windshield by slitting the plastic cup into halves. Place one beside the other. Voila! Windshield is ready!
  • Tear a little piece of aluminum foil, and ball it. Flatten it by placing it in between your palms. Glue it onto the hood of the car. Headlights ready to show you the way!
  • An alternative method could be to cut the windshield, and the windows in the carton itself with a box cutter. Use a black marker to draw the grille at the bumper front. Besides, a design or two on the sides would be an added attraction.
With a Corrugated Box ....
corrugated box car
What It Takes
  • Corrugated box
  • Box of Crayons
  • Packing tape
  • Scissors/Box cutter
  • Construction paper, 1 sheet (optional)
  • Marker
  • Thick cardboard, 1 sheet
  • Medium-sized Rods
Get the Feat Right
Step 1. Start with sealing the bottom of the box with the packaging tape. Do not tape the other side of the box.

[ Parental guidance is a must in the following step. ]

Step 2. Considering the taped side of the box -- the bottom, cut a circle in the center of the box. It should be big enough for the child to step in.

Step 3. Now, let the unsealed side face upwards. Turn the flaps out, and fold the top flap into half. This becomes your windshield. Look at the illustration provided here to get a better picture.

Step 4. With a sheet of thick cardboard, cut four big circles, such that they complement the size of the box. Know that they would serve to wheel your car. Keep them aside.

Step 5. To make the wheel sturdy, cut four more circles of the same size to glue them to the circles you kept aside. Let them dry.

Step 6. Pierce the sides of the car at the bottom with the rod, carefully. Ensure that the rods are slightly bigger than the width of the box.

Step 7. Check the circles. Have they dried? If yes, tape their circumferential edges to enhance the grip and security.

Step 8. Once the rods are inserted, attach the circles at both ends of the rods. Pierce the rod through the circles, and dab some glue at the intersection.

Step 9. Now for the accessories:
  • Draw headlights and taillights with crayons.
  • Scribble a few lines on the front portion -- the hood, to show the radiator grille. It's done!
What's the plus point of this car? Well, for one your child may hold it close to the waist and rely on her/his feet to gear up a bit, besides the power of those wheels!
With Sponge and Carrom men ....
sponge car
What It Takes
  • Sponge
  • Unused Pencils, 2
  • Carrom men, 4
  • A Striker disk
  • Glue
  • Aluminum foil (optional)
Get the Feat Right
Step 1. Now, this one's new! Haven't heard of a sponge car, have you? How about using striker disks and carrom men from your very own game of carrom! Well, if you, precisely have four carrom men to spare, use them ... as wheels!

Step 2. To begin with, take a colorful sponge; it could be rectangular, or box-shaped.

Step 3. Take two unused pencils, and insert them closer to the bottom edge of the sponge.

Step 4. Get hold of four disks. Glue them to the ends of the pencil and ... Ah! The car is ready, before you realize it!

[ Parental guidance is not a must here. However, you might like to be in the vicinity! ]

Step 5. If you want the car to upbeat:
  • Ball small pieces of aluminum foil; cake and glue them on the bumper front. Headlights, they are.
  • How about a striking steering wheel? Glue a fancy striker disk on top of the sponge that acts as one steering column for your car. Ready to ride, are we?
With a Water Bottle ....
bottle car
What It Takes
  • Empty water bottle
  • Paint (optional)
  • Bottle caps, 4
  • Paint brush
  • Modeling Clay
  • Construction paper (optional)
  • Toothpick/Wire
  • Box cutter/Scissors
Get the Feat Right
Step 1. A plastic water bottle may come in handy to manufacture this wondrous car. Rinse the bottle thoroughly before use. Let it dry.

Step 2. If it's a transparent or translucent bottle, you might want to paint it. You may let it be the way it is, if you are not too keen on the idea.

Step 3. Parents may show a few strokes to head-start the activity. Your child may continue it, of course, with you being around. Now, collect four bottle caps. Paint them, if you will. It, certainly adds to the fun meter. You may opt for black to mimic the actual color of wheels, or you may use a color of your choice.

[Parents must monitor their child if he/she is eager to paint the bottle.]

Step 4. With a box cutter, hole the bottle caps at the center. Make two holes each on both sides of the bottle. To do this, relax the between of the scissors and insert the blunt blade into the side of the bottle in a winding motion. However, don't overdo it. The blunt blade must pierce and not grind the curvature of the bottle.

Step 5. Slide a toothpick or slight wire through each hole on both sides.

Step 6. Insert the bottle caps through the toothpicks or the wire. This time do not glue the toothpick (axle) to the bottle cap. Use modeling clay, instead.

Step 7. Chunk out a blob of clay, and ball it. Wrap the clay around the visible edge of the toothpick. Repeat, for the remaining three intersections.

Step 8. To accessorize, use clay again.
  • Ball two pieces of clay, give them a dash of color, if you please, and mount them toward the front (hood) of the bottle, adjacent to each other. Headlights, sure make the ride worthwhile. You agree, don't you.
With Corks and Cardboard ....
cork cardboard car
What It Takes
  • Corks, 4
  • Cardboard, 1 sheet
  • A Paper clip
  • Cord
  • A Roll of Wire
  • Box cutter/Scissors
Get the Feat Right
Step 1. So we are up to tinkering a cork car, are we? Well, to make a toy car of cork and cardboard, we need to assemble all that's penned on the cheat sheet.

[ Parents, kindly stay put while your little one is at it! ]

Step 2. Get hold of corks; four, perhaps would be perfect for the activity. Ask dad to fetch you those plugs that seal a bottle of champagne. Once you have them, divide each of them into halves. Cut just two out of the four. Keep the rest, just in case ... !

Step 3. Now, do you see a hole in the middle of the cork? Alright, take the halves of the cork, distance them, while keeping them opposite each other.

Step 4. Snip a length of wire, which complements the distance between the halves of the cork.

Step 5. Insert the wire in the center of one cork. Leave the other for now. Repeat the procedure to make another cork-wire twosome.

Step 6. Place the pairs vertically adjacent to each other, deciding the rough length of the car. Cut a cardboard piece that spans this length; keep a tad extra on both sides. Why? You get the answer in the upcoming steps.

Step 7. Apply glue on the edges of the piece. Place it over the wires, folding the edges and sticking them inwards. Attach the corresponding halves of the cork, which you left aside in step 5, to the two wires. You now have the basic car ready.

Step 8. For movement, we won't rely on corks. In fact, they wouldn't give you any! This time, the controller would be none other than you! All it takes is a paper clip and a cord. Fasten a cord to the paper clip. Attach the clip to the front of the car and yippee! ... monkeying around, never was so much fun!

Step 9. To add to the effects:
  • Ball a few bits of craft paper, and stick it on to the front portion of the car. Ready to roll!
With Cardboard and Pencil ....
cardboard and pencil
What It Takes
  • A sheet of 2-layer cardboard
  • Pencils, 2
  • Glue
  • Marker (optional)
  • Rectangular box
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Modeling Clay (optional)
Get the Feat Right
Step 1. This toy car is quite straightforward. From the 2-layer cardboard, carve out a rectangle. This serves to be the body of the car.

Step 2. Take the rectangular box and wrap it with cardboard. If it's something different you would want to do, ditch the box! Instead you may roll the cardboard into a tube, and glue the edges to the surface to ensure the grip.

Step 3. See to it that the roll has not turned out too thick; it shouldn't be flimsy either. Let's say that turning over the cardboard sheet 5 to 6 times would give us a decent-looking roll.

Step 4. Insert a pencil each through the roll/box close to the two ends of the tube/cardboard-covered box. Pay attention to the pencil; ensure it doesn't get "stuck" after intersecting the roll at both ends. It should have some space to move. Jamming it would altogether deflate the purpose of the car.

[ Parents, stay around for assistance. ]

Step 5. Snip out four strips of cardboard. Start rolling it over the pencil; it should cover only the edges of the pencil. Make four such rolls that encircle the head and the tail of both the pencils. Tape the ends to its surface. They serve as wheels, and the pencils, the axles.

Step 6. To accessorize:
  • Use a round plastic lid of a bottle or container. Draw a three to four lines with a marker to show the bumper grille.
  • Two little balls made of play dough could be placed at the hood of the car, signifying headlamps. Rejoice and wheel around town!
With a Matchbox and Toothpicks ....
simple cardboard
What It Takes
  • A Large-sized Match Box
  • Bottle caps, 4
  • Craft/construction paper, 3 sheets
  • Toothpicks, 4
  • Paint and brush (optional)
  • Eraser, 1
  • Glue
  • Play dough (optional)
Get the Feat Right
Step 1. Let's start with preparing the matchbox. Wrap it with a craft paper; the color is your choice!

Step 2. Move on to the eraser. Try to obtain one, whose width is more or less the same as the matchbox, however, is smaller in size, on the whole. Wrap it in a transparent sheet.

Step 3. Glue the eraser over the surface area of the matchbox. It should be closer to the rear end of the car. We are ready with the body of the car.

Step 4. Moving on to the wheels, insert two toothpicks each on the length of the matchbox. Do not insert them completely.

[ Parental assistance may be needed in the following step. ]

Step 5. With the inner blunt blade of the scissors, poke the center of the bottle to create a tiny hole; one that can allow the toothpick to pass through. Drive the bottle cap close to the body of the car. Repeat the procedure for the rest of the wheels.

Step 6. Once done, ball four pieces of play dough, and bulb it over the small portion of the toothpick that juts out after the wheel has slid through. This will provide the required alignment and sturdiness to the car.

Step 7. To accessorize:
  • Ball two pieces of play dough; this time for the headlights. Flatten them and cake them over the bumper front.
  • Go ahead, paint the headlamps, if you will.
  • Paint a few numbers on the bumper front to customize your license plate.
  • Decorate the sides of the car with catchy phrases; Road runner, or Road-ruler are a few names that pop-up at the moment.
Do ponder upon these ways, and implement them. However, I sincerely suggest, not to put blinders on! The avarice to learn must never die, and to ensure this, keep "those bulbs" burning ... and burning bright! ...