He’s a Mr.-fix-it guy and a starving artist, but Marc Staino also is a toymaker who wants to bring back the time when children played with toys made out of wood.

by: ELLEN SPITALERI - Pictured are a colorful log truck, trainset, race car, dumptruck and tugboat. For his day job, Staino works as the custodian for the Multnomah Education Service District, but toy making is his real love, and he relishes the time spent in his shop creating, sanding and finishing the various pieces.

by: ELLEN SPITALERI - Marc Staino sands one of his wooden toys in his Happy Valley workshop.His inspiration came in 1994 when he saw some colorful carousel horses at an antique store and thought about turning the design into rocking horses.

“Nobody takes the time anymore to do rocking horses. I wanted to make mine with character and bring back the nostalgia,” Staino said.

He also saw some old, pre-World War II Buddy L trucks and was inspired to make similar pieces out of wood.

He found patterns for wooden toys and then modified those to add his own spin to the pieces. Staino makes it a point to use hardwoods, especially Oregon’s myrtlewood, and is adamant about using safe, nontoxic dyes that he imports from Germany.

Trucks, airplanes and more

Staino sells his toys at The Joinery on Woodstock Boulevard in Portland, at the Myrtlewood Gallery in Reedsville on the coast, on his Etsy site, and, occasionally, at farmers markets and holiday bazaars.

By far, his most popular item is a jaunty dumptruck, but tugboats sell like hotcakes on the coast, he said.

Staino’s grandfather was a logger, so he makes a logging truck in his honor, and once a woman who owned a logging company bought seven of the trucks to give as gifts to her employees.

His train sets are another big seller, along with cars, airplanes, including a biplane, and Jeeps.

His toys may be a bit more expensive than those available in plastic at a big-box store, but that is because Staino uses high-quality wood, like oak, maple and pradu, an exotic wood from Africa, and because he spends a long time on each piece.

Hands-on work gratifying

Staino graduated from Gresham High School, where he took woodshop classes all four years. After high school he spent some time as a contractor, bought his first table saw, and realized how much he liked making things with his hands.

He and his wife have lived in Happy Valley since 2005, and his shop now contains more up-to-date woodworking equipment, like a CNC router, a computer-controlled shaping machine.

Although he considers toy making a hobby at this time, when he retires Staino hopes to spend more time honing his craft, but still plans to produce only a limited quantity of each toy.

He makes toys for the love of it, Staino said, and doesn’t ever want to feel under pressure to make more.

He recalled a time at a market when a man came up to him and said he used to play with wooden toys.

“He asked me what happened to them, and I said it is all about mass production these days, when companies feel they have to produce a million toys,” Staino said.

Having people ooh and ahh over his toys is gratifying.

“They will come up to me and say, ‘Wow, that is fantastic,’ or ‘That is a beautiful rocking horse,’ and then they buy it,” he said.

Contact Marc Staino by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. See photos of his toys and more on his Etsy site at; or visit The Joinery at 4804 S.E. Woodstock Blvd., Portland.

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