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Barclay Blocks
Barclay Blocks
American Hard Maple - The Real Deal
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How to Make
Wooden Blocks

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This is our "Simple Set" of instructions. Click here for the Detailed Instructions.

Warning: The topic covered on this page includes activities in which there exists the potential for serious injury or death. We do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information contained here. Always use proper safety precautions and safety equipment and keep all tool guards in place.

    

      This set of instructions is intended for the person who has considerable familiarity with woodworking tools and the terms associated with hardwood lumber.  A serviceable set of school size blocks can be made at home by a practiced woodworker. We give directions for making hardwood blocks but the instructions can easily be adapted to making blocks from SPF stock from your local lumber store.   The plan is based on our "Base Set A," and a contents list can be obtained by going to the List of Pieces for this set and printing it. 

Buy Stock 


     Buy about 35 board feet of Kiln Dried, 8/4 (two inches thick rough lumber) hardwood lumber and about 8 bd. ft of 4/4 (one inch thick rough lumber)  from your favorite hardwood dealer.  #1 and #2C WHAD (Worm Holes are a Defect) should do it. If you can obtain 7/4 this will be cheaper, but 6/4 is usually too small unless it is very robust.  If possible, get the 8/4 lumber pre-planed to about 1-5/8 (both sides) or 1-3/4 (one side).  Get the 4/4 planed to about 7/8.  Hard Maple is the best. 
    This should cost well under $200.00 for Hard Maple. 

Using SPF and Other Woods


    You can also use SPF (Spruce, Pine, Fir) from the lumber store.  It's very cheap and you can obtain the same footage for around $50.  However, this lumber is always very, very wet (even though it says, "kiln dried") and your blocks will shrink and warp when you are finished.  If you sticker it in a pile, and leave it to air dry for a month or so in a warm, dry place it will shed some of this moisture but it will still shrink somewhat. 


Plane the Stock

    Use your planer to plane the thick stock to 1-3/8.  Plane both sides and use a caliper to get it exactly the correct thickness.  Use your planer to plane the thin stock to 11/16.   .

Rip the Stock

Using a sharp rip blade on your table saw, rip the following stock.  You should have plenty of lumber to do this and you can easily end up with extra if your original lumber was high quality.

        50 feet of 1-3/8 by 2-7/8 (Blocks)
        15 feet of 1-3/8 by 1-1/2 stock (Square columns)
        10 feet of 11/16 by 2-7/8 stock (Roof Planks)
        35 feet of 11/16 by 1-1/2 stock (Road Planks)       

Plane the edges

Use your planer to plane both edges of the wide stock stock to 2-3/4.  Use your planer to plane both edges of the narrow stock to 1-3/8.  

Rout the edges

Using a small rounding bit on a router or shaper, round or chamfer the edges of the sticks.  This is easiest on a small router table, but it can be done by hand.  

Pause

You should now have molding more or less in the amounts given above. 

Chop the Blocks

Chop the blocks to length on your table saw with a crosscut sled or a miter bar using an ultra sharp, carbide crosscut blade (about 60 ATB teeth for a 10" saw).  The object is to make the requisite number of 22 inch, 11 inch,  5-1/2 inch, and 2-3/4 inch pieces.  You can eliminate all of the knots if you wish or, if there are sound knots, leave them.  In general, a simple miter saw won't work very well as it tends toward a lot of edge chipping.  Some of the new sliders may work better, but a table saw is probably the best.  A radial arm saw may also work, but most of them have a lot of slop in the track.
             You should easily obtain the following (more or less):

                4 - 22" Blocks  
                8 - 11" Blocks          
                34 - 5-1/2 inch blocks (you will need some for triangles)          
                18 - 2-3/4 inch blocks (ditto)

    These numbers are a minimum based on the assumption that you are eliminating all knots and dings - if you are more relaxed about defects you can get many more blocks.  Be sure that your lengths are exact, that your sled or miter bar is running exactly perpendicular to your saw blade, and that the blade is dead-on vertical. 
   Out of the 1-3/8" by 1-3/8" material (square columns) make the following:
           
                4 - 11 inch pieces            
                8 - 5-1/2 inch pieces            
                8 - 2-3/4 inch pieces            
                8 - 1-3/8 inch cubes

      Out of the remaining road plank and roof plank stock, cut the material in the proportions that you want.  If you copy our list of pieces in the Base Kit A page, you will get a good idea of what you need. 

Triangles, Wedges and other stuff

Making these pieces requires a band saw complete with a fence, a circle cutting attachment and numerous jigs.  The latter can be made by slitting a piece of Masonite to run along the fence on your Band Saw and then gluing stops in place to hold a blank at the proper angle.  Using a jig and the fence, cut triangles and wedges out of the 5-1/2 inch and 2-3/4 inch blocks by cutting them diagonally. 
          Arches are cut on the band saw using the circle cutting attachment. It is also possible to use a jig saw for these, but a band saw is really required for the power to cut through 1-3/8 inch material.  Some companies sell arches with a 1-3/8 radius cut out, but we use 2-1/16.  This allows the arches to span a road plank and they look more realistic in making aqueducts and Palladian doors.  
       A look at our "open stock" pages will give you some good ideas about what else you can do with any surplus wood.  Here is a place where you may be able to use some of your scrap as the band saw is a much safer machine than a table saw.

Round Columns 

These are made from dowels though 1-3/8 dowels may be hard to find.   The largest dowels in lumber stores are typically 1-1/4 (Ramen).  Anything bigger is a special order.  Sometimes Closet pole and banister rail material is available in 1-3/8.  This is usually Fir, so be careful about splinters.  If you have a lathe, here's your chance to make some spiffy columns out of anything you want.  While you're at it, make a few onion domes for minarets and churches.

Sanding

Sand the end faces, sweep the end-edges, and bump the corners of the blocks to round them on a stationary belt sander. 

 

   You can buy the molding from us . . . .

 



End
Shape 
Type  Price
4 ft. 
Buy  For
Beg.
A12 
For
Base
A12 
How to Make Wooden Toys )  Block
Stock 
$7.71 Add to
Cart
4 9
How to Make Wooden Toys Pillar
Stock 
$5.48 Add to
Cart  
2 3
How to Make Wooden Toys Road
Stock 
$4.15 Add to
Cart  
1 2
( How to Make Wooden Toys )  Roof
Planks 
$2.29 Add to
Cart  
3 6
wooden block shapes )  Round
Stock 
$5.48 Add to
Cart  
1 2
*Does not account for wastage. Molding is right off the line, not selected (good or bad), and should be expected to have the usual range of defects and discolored spots and streaks.
           

 
 

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207 N. Main St., PO Box 819
Hebron, Indiana 46341
1-877-606-4374