One of Tom Hutchinson’s toy trains takes about 8 hours to make. It’s not just all the cutting and measuring that is so time-consuming. He must visualize how all the pieces fit together once they are assembled so that he doesn’t sand the sides of the wood that must eventually be glued to another piece of wood. (If they are sanded smooth then they won’t hold glue well enough). Multiple sandings are the most time-consuming aspect of making a toy — there can be no splinters for little fingers and all the corners must be rounded and very smooth. Nontoxic mineral oil coats the wood and any small pieces are permanently attached to prevent a choking hazard.
Tom has only recently “branched” out (pun intended) into making toys. He has been mentored by former VAM member/toymaker Warren Stoker for the last year or so and feels he has elevated his toys and they are now a superior quality to sell. Tom uses native wood like oak, poplar, walnut and cherry for his woodworking, which he purchases each September at the wood auction through the Adirondack Woodworkers Association, of which he is currently president. His toys include airplanes, dump trucks, trains, tractors, cars, tops and even yo-yos for older kids. But, of course, he also continues to make bowls, cutting boards, peppermills, pens, rolling pins and other wooden objects. He also welcomes special requests from customers looking for something particular that he doesn’t have for sale or a specific change to what he does offer. (And speaking of special requests, he was recently commissioned by the Saratoga County Fair to make 100 pens with “175” engraved in them for the fair’s 175th anniversary.) We hope you will stop in and see everything created by Tom, one of multiple talented woodworkers at Valley Artisans.