Barclay Blocks
Barclay Blocks
American Hard Maple - The Real Deal
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     In general, unit building blocks are a kind of industrial toy.  Big, heavy, crude, indestructible - a clunky aesthetic, more like a box of bolts than a feather boa.  Blocks beg abuse over the years.  Making tall towers and toppling them, throwing blocks out of the upstairs window on a parachute, beating them with a hammer, using them to prop open the kitchen door, playing with dirty hands - these things take a toll.  Your blocks will last forever in spite of this battering.  They can take it.  But this is not a delicate toy - your kids are going to beat the stuffing out of their blocks and they will still search for them in your attic about 30 years from now because they were (in the words of numerous customers),  " . . . the best toy we ever had."

   We try to make the finest blocks money can buy.  We make all our blocks the same way out of hard maple lumber harvested in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Illinois and then we carefully sand the ends and edges.  Blocks with surface defects go to scrap.  After that is done, we pluck out a subset of the prettiest of the remainder and these are our premium "firsts".  The remainder are "seconds" (about 25% of the total).  We sell sets of the premium blocks for about 10% more than a mix of firsts and seconds.  Color is the only difference. 

       What matters with a set of blocks is their long term durability: hardness, resilience, fine cell structure, and uniformity of size.  Kindergarten teachers will tell you that many fine toys last six months or less in a classroom setting - but blocks last many, many years. The hardness and resilience resist dents.   The cell structure of Maple eliminates splinters since the slivers are too tiny and weak.  The uniformity allows large buildings. 


Our Premium Hard Maple Firsts - Blocks without spots.  Lumber is vulnerable to all sorts of enzymes that produce stripes, spots, and other variations of color. We segregate a subset of blocks into those without color blemishes (firsts).  Our premium blocks are all firsts, hand picked to eliminate these aesthetic and cosmetic problems.  There are no color blemishes and they will last a lifetime.  We know of no other manufacturer that makes blocks like these. 

Cathedral in Blocks 

 Our Hard Maple Firsts & Seconds - Our regular Blocks sets.  Pretty much like hard maple unit blocks found elsewhere.  Our firsts and seconds are exactly like our premium blocks, but some of the blocks may suffer from blems of color: natural spots, dark streaks, etc. These blocks may vary from nearly perfect to some with marked spotting or streaks.  The problems are with color (only).  Some people like firsts and seconds and think they look more "natural."  They are a terrific bargain and a favorite of schools.  There are no other defects.   These blocks are large, heavy, hard maple school size blocks and will shrug off generations of use.  If you don't care much about color, these are for you.  They are not "seconds" in any other sense.


Our Rubberwood Economy Blocks - are made of Rubberwood and imported from Thailand.  Rubberwood is a serviceable hardwood derived from exhausted latex plantations and typically comes from Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia - occasionally from Africa.  For many years this was burned for firewood and charcoal until it was discovered that it could be used for simple furniture in the American market.  It makes passable blocks and though the workmanship is only so-so, it is extremely cheap.  These imported blocks are good for the person who wants an economical set of blocks.  They are tested for safety and conformity with CPSIA and CPSC regulations, are free from chemical contaminants, and will give years of service.  Buyers can expect these blocks to be playable and they will generally integrate with American Blocks in regard to size and scale.

Airport in Wooden Blocks
Hieroglyphic s blocks 

Basswood Alphabet Blocks - are made of Basswood (Linden) for us by Uncle Goose Blocks.  Linden is noted for its smooth, creamy texture and fine grain.  It is somewhat softer than Maple which allows it to be squeezed in an embossing machine.   Embossing is a process in which the letters are pressed under pressure into the end grain of the wood, allowing raised letters.  These classic blocks are then dyed and printed with lab tested inks.  The inks are tested repeatedly by an independent laboratory for safety and the blocks are also tested after manufacture to assure that no dangerous chemicals or heavy metals have been employed.  These fine alphabet blocks will last for years. 

Craft Cubes and Parts - are made from a variety of American hardwood species including kiln dried Maple, Linden, Oak, Alder, Poplar, Beech, Birch, but not softwoods like pine or fir.  Specific sizes may be made of different species at different times.  Craft Parts and Craft Cubes are meant for craft purposes only.  They are not meant for toys and cannot be used as toys without further testing and manufacturing.  They are made of virgin wood and contain no artificial chemicals.  Craft parts are used for a very wide range of industrial purposes and in very large quantities (millions).  Smaller cubes are weighed, not counted, and job lots are certain to contain some defects.  Large cubes (bigger than 2-1/2 inches) may be vulnerable to stress cracking from changes in humidity.  We do not warrant these cubes for any specific purpose.  

Craft Cubes 

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  Copyright 2003 Barclay Wood Toys and Blocks, Inc.
207 N. Main St., PO Box 819
Hebron, Indiana 46341
1-877-606-4374 (ph)
1-877-249-3624 (fx)