Milton Eidahl’s Marvelous Toy Ferris Wheel
Every Saturday morning, without fail, Milton Eidahl and his wife can be found at the Moses Lake Farmers Market with their custom wooden toys, and every Saturday, without fail, people stop and pause when they see Milton’s Ferris Wheel. The legendary 17th century writer Gustave Flaubert used to say “Le bon Dieu est dans le detail” – God is in the details. From the intricate lace-like scrollsaw filigree, to the tiny buckets that tip lightly as the wheel goes around, to the delicate chain that surrounds the piece – there’s something about this kind of patient, practiced craftsmanship that causes everyone to pause for a moment and marvel at the fact that this is the work of human hands.
Those hands belong to Milton Eidahl, an octogenarian from Othello, WA. I was surprised to learn that he has only been building custom wooden toys for the past six years.
Born and raised in North Dakota, Milton hopped on his motor cycle in 1947 and drove out to Seattle to visit his sister and never came back. He fell in the love with the lush farmland of the Northwest coast and worked as a farmer and a mechanic while raising his family. Milton began building furniture and cabinetry for his own home back in 1989, and in recent years his hobby has become a small business.
The Ferris Wheel
I’ve been curating original custom pieces at CustomMade for about a year now, and this Ferris Wheel has been one of my favorite custom finds from the very beginning. All of his toys, from the alderwood John Deer Tractor to the 1929 Ford Truck have that special magic of real-life accuracy and detail captured in warm wood, but it’s the Ferris Wheel I always come back to…
Milton got the inspiration for his Ferris Wheel from a Cherry Tree Toys woodworking book, and he describes the slow, steady process of drilling a tiny 1/8″ hole in a smooth piece of birch plywood in order to create each of the little scroll cuts in the wheels, one by one.
The 110-volt motor that makes the perfectly-symmetrical wheel spin was from Milton’s ”garbage box”. “You gotta make the wheel even so the brackets turn smoothly and evenly,” says Mr. Eidahl. ”I worked at it for a week or more, got tired of it, and then picked it back up again,” the custom toy maker told me from his shop as he held his latest piece in recollection. He reminded me that if I ever want to try making one myself to always be sure to sand every last edge before putting on the finish.
To order your own custom Ferris Wheel, you can contact Milton Eidahl here.