Master Craftsman Dave Szczepanek owner Bopa's Wood Shop can confidently add Master Toymaker to his credentials.
Dave is now retired but you can find him in the small workshop in his garage. When you take a close look at Dave’s wood toy work and workmanship it’s easy to understand the big smile on his face when he’s in his shop. He has a lot to be happy about because he has truly mastered the art and craft of toymaking. And what’s even more amazing is the sheer quantity of toys that he produces.
His granddaughter received the first creations when he retired and is the person who named his wood shop Bopa’s Wood Shop. Now his creations are sold at craft fairs supporting local fund raisers like TriKappa Gingerbread Christmas Craft Fair and Westfield Band Boosters. His crafts supported a fund raiser for a cancer victim. Now it appears he will be invited to the Hendricks County Artisan Marketplace representing arts from Indiana. Thus activity is up to increase his inventory to get ready for this years’ craft fair shows. To contact Dave you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Above: Dave’s double planning stations setup provides plenty of room for managing projects.
The secret to Dave’s prolific productivity is his intelligently planned and equipped wood toy workshop that supports his carefully executed production work flows. There is a place for everything and everything is in it’s place.
Dave’s wood toy workshop is a genius collection of work stations, tools, materials and supplies. And all of it is carefully organized for completing projects efficiently, accurately and at a high level of fit and finish. A key feature to it’s success is the rolling work stations. Just about everything is on casters. The rolling work stations allow Dave to re-configure his shop at a moment’s notice to fit a new project. The way he organizes and maintains the rolling work stations permits him to get to right to work without delay.
Above: Take a close look at Dave’s wood toy factory in action. This masterpiece wood toy kitchen play set of his design is constructed and assembled with speedy mass production style work methods and precision organization. Every process required of each wood toy is done simultaneously. Even the hinges for the doors are carefully arranged for attaching to all the sets with a mass production work method. You can see the hinges carefully aligned on the disc sander in the photo inset. The rolling work station permits Dave to take the work to the project instead of moving the project to each work station. That’s a great time-saver!
Below: Dave says, "This is when we were building the appliance units for 18 inch dolls. We have shop bench sanding equipment on one mobile cart, two carts with a router in each, and planer on another mobile cart. Table saw and band saw are on a mobile bases. It gets quite congested when a project is being rough cut and being assembled. Refrigerators were on one portable table, sink units on another portable table and the range units are on the table saw. Yep, those are hinges lined up on the circular sanding station! My DeWalt miter saw is on a sawhorse arrangement with wheels on one end and the drill press and jigsaw are in back room in the garage."
Of course, you can see in the bottom most photo is the famous coffee mug that says………"My kid and my money go to Purdue University and all I got is this lousy coffee mug!"
Below: Dave enjoys making wood toys in multiples. This set of Fantastika Fire Engines were built from ToymakingPlans.com wood toy plans. He finds it a lot easier and faster to cut out several identical parts at once and then assemble and finish each of the toys using his mass production techniques.
A great part of Dave’s success is because of his application of mass production techniques. He carefully prepares the parts for assembling several identical wood toys at once. Shown below is part of his Super Crane assembly line (below).
Above and Below: Dave used the Super Crane wood toy plan set for the starting point when he built his own version of this great toy. He substituted purchased wheels and axle pins which sped the project along and also added a touch of perfection to the original design of the plan set. He also substituted a purchased hook clasp to replace the hand-bent hook suggested in the plan set. That is a brilliant move. The purchased hook is a lot more fun to work with and adds a touch of class. He improved the crank wheel by doubling the thickness which greatly increased the toughness of the toy. The final touch was to personalize each toy with decals of the flag, liberty bell and freedom eagle.
Above: This quality set of wood toy trucks was mass produced by Dave using plans from the book Build Big Wood Toy Trucks. He is pleased that the plans fit well into his mass production techniques.
Above: This mini wood toy fine furniture is scaled for the classic 18” dolls like American Girl and Journey Girl. Dave used the Sweetheart Armoire and Sleep Loft Plan Set to build the set. Dave added the beautiful heart inlay for the chairs. He also used Miller Dowels to construct the sleep lofts using 3/4" poplar. Making the sets in multiples keeps his production time low and can increase his profits per toy.