A True Toy Maker: Frank Ridley of Solon, Maine

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrank Ridley is the real deal – a wooden toy craftsman.

Ridley moved to Solon, Maine in 1973 from the Boston suburbs to establish a homestead for his eventual family of four children. Using his engineering skills he built his home, shop, and a line of natural wood toys free of chemical contaminants and the stresses of manmade conflicts.

Frank markets his toys under The Different Drummer Workshop which prides itself as hand-crafters of high quality and natural finished wooden toys for kids since 1973.

The main features of his handcrafted wooden toys are:

  1. Durability – sturdy enough to withstand years of hard play and then be passed on to the kids of the next generation.
  2. Craftsmanship- each wooden toy is carefully handmade with all edges and corners rounded, and then hand sanded to a pleasant feeling satin smooth natural finish that the toddler can safely chew on.
  3. Materials – native Maine white pine is the primary material of their wooden toys, with most wheels and turnings made from hard maple or birch.
  4. Design- safe and simple, to encourage the child to use his or her own imagination. (No batteries required!)

Frank Ridley and daughter Lisa Caldwell above making toys by hand.

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