At Bear Woods Supply Company, we pride ourselves on providing the highest quality woodworking supplies available. Our products are used to create a vast array of finished pieces. Some of those pieces will be sold commercially, while others become treasured family heirlooms. We understand the craftsmanship that goes into a handmade wooden item, which is why we only offer products that are of the highest standard. We would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to the work of Francis Shuter, a toymaker from Merit, British Columbia.
About Francis Shuter
Now in his 70s, Francis was a soapstone carver for many years before he discovered the joys of woodworking. He joined the Kamloops Woodworkers Association and volunteered at an event where wood toys were being made for the needy.
The Initial Stages of Toymaking
Francis began by assisting with the sanding process after the wood came off the band saws. Over time, he branched out to toy assembly. According to Francis, his first toy took between six to seven hours to complete, from start to finish. Currently, he can complete nearly 25 toys over the same span of time. He began using just a handful of patterns but has expanded to others over the years.
Giving Back to the Community
Francis and his group create toys that are distributed to needy kids throughout the area. Around 150 toys are donated to a First Nations Christmas program, while others are delivered to food banks, schools and fire departments. The group even surprises children with free toys as they stroll through town with their parents. Francis enjoys his work, knowing that the finished product will be handed out to children from across the area, and will bring delight for many years to come. In fact, some of his pieces will be passed on from one generation to the next.
From Parts to Finished Product
Many of the toys that Francis creates are based on 1 1/4″ contoured wheels or 1 1/4″ treaded wheels, although some patterns make use of larger 1 1/2″ wheels. Axle pegs play a critical role in the construction, and the body of the toy is crafted from other wood pieces, many of which are sourced from Bear Woods Supply Company. The result is a hand-crafted, high-quality toy that will provide many years of enjoyment. In this age of factory assembled, cheap molded plastic toys, creating something of quality is a craft that brings a deep sense of satisfaction.
At Bear Woods Supply Company, we are always happy to hear how our customers are using our products. Please reach out and share your latest creations, and you might be the next woodworker to be featured on our website!