Tools + Supplies Barclay Scrap Blocks

Published on May 16th, 2010 | by Julie Finn

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Barclay Free(ish) Scrap Blocks: Natural and CHEAP!

Wooden building blocks are a toy that you can never have too many of. The more blocks a kid has, the bigger and better are their possibilities for creation.

Wooden building blocks are also just a terrific toy to provide for kids, on a lot of levels. They promote creative, unplugged play, building math and motor skills, and, depending on their provenance and production, they have a better chance at being a really great environmental choice, as well. Better than Legos, definitely.

And yet, wooden building blocks are also a toy that tends to cost a LOT of money. For some reason, I get tons of natural parenting catalogues in the mail, and all those beautiful, simple, natural creative toys that they sell? Whoah, pricey!

My kiddos do have themselves a massive collection of wooden building blocks, but only because I’m an avid dumpster diver and yard saler and thrift shopper, but how nice would it be to not have to rely on the vagaries of fate to put me in the path of some great, natural, cheap building blocks?

Dudes, you have GOT to check out Barclay Blocks!

Barclay Blocks is a US company (located just a few hours north of me here in good old Indiana) that manufactures and sells wooden blocks for toys and crafts. The blocks are all made from maple (and the company has good contact info on their site if you want to know more details about provenance and production) and are untreated and unpainted.

All this is well and good, and if you’re like me and are fascinated by all the kinds of building blocks one company can make, the Barclay Blocks site makes for excellent window shopping, but I will happily admit that I’m a stay-at-home mom, and I can not afford those building blocks.

But do you know what else Barclay Blocks sells?

Scrap blocks! Almost the same as their regular blocks! Only way cheaper!

The photo above is a little snippet of what I received when I bought the Free(ish) Scrap Set from Barclay Blocks. The set consists of 20 pounds of unsanded blocks–seconds, end bits, leftovers, and other randomness. That set costs five dollars, plus shipping. The shipping is whopping, of course, because you’re paying to mail 20 pounds of wood, but for me it amounted to fifteen dollars, which means that I got 20 pounds of building blocks for twenty dollars.

Way cheaper than in those parenting catalogues.

My 20 pounds had a good assortment, too. It isn’t super fancy, but includes lots of triangles, a few cubes, rectangles of various sizes, and a couple of half-circles. None are especially splintery, although they do all need to be sanded to make them child-safe (fortunately, sanding is a hallmark Montessori activity that I can put my kiddos to work doing). Out of the twenty pounds, three pieces were split or cracked enough to end up in the wood chipper, but overall, I’m delighted with my haul.

Blocks to build with, blocks to paint, blocks to decoupage…yay!

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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.



  • Panya

    Thanks so much for recommending this, I’m totally ordering some scrap blocks!

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  • http://whistlingleafblower.blogspot.com/ cake

    that is such an awesome score! oddly, there has never been a shortage of blocks in our world. when i was pregnant, i stumbled upon a big back of nice ones in the middle of the street, took them home washed them up, and cosmo still builds with them today. plus, one of my architecture professors gave him a small set of very high quality maple ones, we got a bunch of handmade hand-me-down ones from a friend (some need sanding), and we were given a couple of small sets of nicely painted ones for gifts. cosmo and carl use them almost daily, and all of the sets get incorporated into the play. it is great to know of this source though, and i will let anyone whose looking for some know about it.

    • http://www.craftknife.blogspot.com Julie Finn

      Somehow, even though I own a LOT of building blocks, of all makes and models, I would never dream of passing up another sweet, cheap set.

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  • http://SocialaAvertising.org/ Stephen Sanders

    Actually wooden blocks are toys that help children learn. Other size and shape blocks help children learn how to build things from their own imagination. These are perfect renaissance types of gifts for young children. Unfortunately electronic games and toys put children in a very passive mode with they no longer use their imagination.

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  • Chantel

    I have been ordering these blocks for my parrots for the past few years! They are hard enough so it takes a few days for my large macaws to destroy them, which is great! They destroy pine in a matter of seconds, so maple is a great alternative. The variety is great, I usually get half circles, triangles, little rectangles, long rectangles, cubes, bridges, and what look like little door stops.

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