A disc of wooden cow

The Horniman museum in London has this German wood-turned disc from which individual toy cows may be sliced in its Handling Collection. For some reason, I never imagined that this is where wooden animals came from, but it's an awfully clever way to make them.

toy animal (via Neatorama)



  1. I guess this means you could buy toy cow by the radian?

    Which would make “cow pi” mean something different than what it sounds like.

  2. What’s pretty brilliant is that there is pretty much no way that you would get what this is without the piece cut out. You’d think it was some weird ring belonging to a piece of furniture, maybe to go on the end of a curtain rod or something.

    Might be an interesting way to hide secret messages in plain sight in some Victorian novel.

    1. yes! I’m imagining a long, oddly gnarled piece of wood that reveals successive words in a message when cut at regular intervals.  Cory, for your next novel!

      1. I can’t find it now, but I’ve seen animation produced by rolling various colors of Play-Doh into a log such that each cross-section is a picture…  Ah, here it is.  Apparently the technique is called “strata-cut.” http://youtu.be/OBcEluA3Gig

    2. your post triggers a thought.  I read a book–long forgotten what it was, some kinda historical fiction but with a time-traveller–set during the time of the Spanish conquistadors.  the native people were using cords knotted in different configurations to send messages.  the Spaniards could not see them as anything other than decorative crafts.

      dunno if that was a real thing back then, but I always though it was neat.  as is this cow thing and your idea of coding messages this way.

      also, using a lathe is fun.  thanks Mr. Mills, my awesome 7th grade shop teacher!

  3. This automatized way of creating animals allowed to make big series of animals. I can remember huge Noah’s Arches made this way.  Here are three pictures taken from the excellent Brussels’ toy museum.  http://cl.ly/3B242g3I0u2o

  4. These animals would make a great cover for an edition of Animal Farm, ’cause that’s a volume of revolution, too.  

      1.  You can see in the boiling scene that they’ve drilled a hole to help carve the legs. 

  5. Having neither horns nor udders, this looks much more like a sheep, than a cow. Still, pretty cool, and the video was fascinating, though dorky (and the woodworker wasn’t wearing safety glasses, shame on him).

  6. 1) Slice 13 degrees of cow toy from wheel.
    2) Provide cow toy to child.
    3) Direct child to engage in play and merriment with cow. Say “now is the time for play. Play with the cow! SCHNELL!”

  7. I love article titles like this, that make little to no sense until you see the picture. “Ah yeah, a disc of wooden cow, of course!”

  8. Hey, cool – it comes from the area where I live. Poor man lived in the mountain area and they traditionally make wooden toys. One time they invented that kind of “manufacturing technology”. Come here and visit the area – its worth. http://www.erzgebirge-tourismus.de/cgi-bin/click.system?navid=110&lang=en

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