Glueless wood notch design ideas for 3d model toys

After seeing this post on making little 3d model pieces from scrapwood, I have been obsessed with making these little pieces as toys for myself and the kiddos in my life!

My issue is this: these pieces (and even the awesome 3d model reindeer model) are (1) really sensitive to the thickness of the wood (I am using 1/8" BB) and (2) over time, with reuse, the fit tends to loosen.

I have tried adding nodes on the inside of the notches. This has helped some, but the two issues above still plague my design. I am considering playing with adding ‘relief’ cuts below the nodes so the wood is bending slightly at the contact points instead of being compressed.

Anyone have any ideas I could try for a reusable, kid-friendly yet secure, notch design that can handle the slight thickness variation I encounter with BB plywood?


Yeah, give “Dan’s Teeth” a try. :smile:


Teeth tend to be one way and wear even faster than nodes. That thread is useful though.

If it were me, I’d look into making self-locking tabs that grab. Oh hey, look at that, it was me like 2 years ago.

But that’s not what you wanted. There’s a writeup of this somewhere. Hang on.

Aha, here we go. I did similar joints to these, you can probably adapt it to work for you since you know your way around nodemaking. I actually did it with nodes that grabbed on both pieces, it was extremely strong. I swear I wrote that up. I’ll have to dig deeper.

From this article:


Aha! December 2017, seems like a lifetime ago.


Whoa… Y E S! This is approach of making notches, with holes to match the nodes, makes so much sense! I am interested in making my pieces easy for a 2yo to put together, so I am going to try adding the relief cuts shown in the Make article so friction won’t be as much of an issue. Thank you for this idea!

Those seem excellent for a model I want to put together once. I worry they wouldn’t work as well for a ‘reuse’ application such as this.

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