Matching monster truck Jeeps

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Project by roha2236 posted 07-10-2016 09:31 PM 2382 views 3 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When my oldest nephew heard that I was going to school to learn woodworking he asked if I could make them (he and his younger brother) Jeeps out of wood. Not one to shy away from a challenge, I said “of course!”.

At the time I had no idea how to go about making the Jeeps, but I was certain I could pull it off…eventually. Once I came across a book at Lee Valley Tools with a monster truck on the cover the creative juices really began flowing. The giant tires are just way too cool! Although, it wasn’t until I bought my bandsaw that I could properly finish the project. The truck in the book is a 1948 Ford, so with the help of user huff (, who measured his Jeep I scaled down the size to the wheelbase I was working with, and used heavy card stock taped together to get a three dimensional idea of the shape. No benefit of a computer for this project!

I had some really nice figured wood sitting around in my shop and wanted to make use of it, but it felt like ages before I could come up with a plan of attack. Maybe I’m just too fussy. I wanted both the joinery and the figured wood to be part of the design. The truck in the book is essentially a box mounted to the back of a block of pine that is shaped to resemble the 1948 style truck. Since that seemed a little too easy and I wanted to use multiple woods I was going to have to use a lot of joints in assembling the Jeeps. Practically every piece is lap jointed to the adjacent piece.

My jointer and planer did not respond well to the curly and bird’s eye maple, regardless of what I did to minimize tearout. Instead, I simpy got one flat face using my 4 1/2 smoothing plane with a crazy sharp blade, and used that as a reference, similar to the 2×2 method we learned in school for timber framing. None of the figured maple pieces ended up the exact same thickness, but with the way I was putting them together they didn’t have to be. It was more important that I got the rebates pretty snug, and my Veritas shoulder plane was perfect for that. Also, since I expected there to be slight gaps in the lap joints I used a glue that would fill those voids (i.e. polyurethane glue).

I knew that end grain would soak up more finish and would appear darker, so I made sure the front and rear windows would be outlined in that manner. The rounded end grain corners of the windshield also give the appearance of window pillars. One of the more distinctive design features of Jeeps is the rounded hood. In this case, rather than a lap joint I used a dado so that the whole thickness of the hood would be available for rounding over, and would be more accurate looking. I also struggled with the grill, not wanting to rout or carve out the vertical lines. Instead, I let the lines of the curly maple give a subtle appearance of a grill. I really liked the look of the sliver of walnut sandwiched between fiddleback maple for the jewlery box I posted here, and used the same idea for the hood. This time, I used pieces of curly maple that would point forward. Not quite bookmatched, but similar. Also, since everything my older nephew has the younger one has to have (boys and their toys!), I wanted the trucks to be almost identical…so the center strip is the only thing that differentiates the two trucks. One is purple heart, the other is walnut.

The Jeep part is my design, and the undercarriage is essentially out of the book, with the exception of the lug nuts that I added after a suggestion from my housemate. I think they add a nice bit of detail. Also, I doweled the axle housings into the base so that if the trucks were run across a carpet they wouldn’t easily fall apart. These things are pretty solid.

The tires have two coats of Kunos dark walnut finish, and the rest is finished with three coats of 1:1 thinned gloss polyurethane, with a final coat of paste finishing wax.

Not looking forward to the day when I let these go. I wish I could be there when they get them.

-- Roman

8 comments so far

View htl's profile


5437 posts in 2245 days

#1 posted 07-10-2016 10:01 PM

Way cool trucks love the wild mix of woods, it really sets it apart.
And very nicely done I should add.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View snoman1973's profile


111 posts in 2933 days

#2 posted 07-10-2016 10:08 PM

Love these! Our family business is making wood toys and gifts. Very nice work!

-- The wood often tells me what it wants to be... great... now the voices in my head have company....;-P

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 4371 days

#3 posted 07-11-2016 11:19 AM

Your jeeps are awesome! Makes me want to trade my jeep for one of yours! Lol. Thanks for sharing. Great job on all the details. BTW; What’s the overall size?

-- John @

View Ivan's profile


16795 posts in 3953 days

#4 posted 07-11-2016 04:28 PM

Awesome wheel assembly.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View ralbuck's profile


6744 posts in 3352 days

#5 posted 07-11-2016 08:26 PM

AS a toymaker; WOW!

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View roha2236's profile


45 posts in 2051 days

#6 posted 07-11-2016 11:33 PM

I really appreciate the kind words everyone. I’ve never made toys before and had a lot of fun making these. After making projects by following plans I was intrigued by the challenge of designing and constructing these.

John, the wheelbase is 5”, the wheels are 3 1/4” in diameter, the height is exactly 6”, length is 8 1/4” from front of the front tire to the back of the rear tire, and the width between outside edges of the tires is 5 1/4”.

majuvla, the tires certainly are really cool, but they almost drove me to drink. The book plans suggested two methods for the tires. One on a bandsaw, which I didn’t have when I started the project, and the other on a table saw. Each tire is two halves of walnut glued together, and each of the (I think) 26 treads is also beveled on both edges. Add a lot of hand sanding (since I don’t have any sanding machinery yet), and that ended up being a LOT of time that went into the tires alone. Although, it was time well spent…they’re always the first thing people comment on.

-- Roman

View GR8HUNTER's profile


8427 posts in 1798 days

#7 posted 07-12-2016 12:14 AM

they certainly do look like jeeps …...... great choice of different woods …... I KNOW from personal experience them wheels are hard …...... but they look GREAT

MUCH BETTER then mine

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN :<))

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3952 days

#8 posted 06-20-2017 01:20 PM

These are beautiful toys. Nice work!

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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