First, when we actually were living in our house (and not travelling), I used a scroll saw to cut all the toys like the ones pictured above. You can buy a new one, but I found mine on craigslist so I would check into a used one first if you are interested.
I sand everything I’ve cut several times. I do a rough sand, then a finer sand. After I paint, I do another sand. I love those sanding sponges although its hard for me to get some of the curves with those.
I use a woodburning tool to burn the dark lines of decoration into the wood.
I use watercolors (ap-certified non-toxic) which you can find at your local craft store or online.
After I use the watercolors, I sand again get rid of any rough spots from applying the watercolor and then finish with an oil and beeswax finish. To make your own finish here is a link to Tonya’s beeswax tutorial. If you rather just buy it you can purchase some beeswax polish here.
If you are interested in creating with wood and paint, but don’t want to purchase a scroll saw, the local craft store (like Michael’s) has lots of wooden things that you can try your hand at. Rhythm of the Home has a post for creating a travel playset. For Easter, Camille and I made these Story Eggs, I recently created peg people, we’ve painted frames and last week I posted the wood bead bracelets. All was purchased with the wood already cut and it has been so much fun to just create with Camille using these.
If you have created with wood, please share or link your tips, I’d love to hear them.