Rocking Horse

Scroll down to the bottom for finished pictures.


  Dan working on the rocking horse I'll try to put some more text here shortly, if you really want random text, you can go see what I wrote for

The plans are from Shopsmith's , I've adapted them for use with power hand tools.


  Dan working on the rocking horse Pieces were cut from "kiln dried" 2x12 fir, per the suggestions on the plans out of a 6' and 8' length. Using 2 8' lengths would have given me a little more room to cut around bad stuff. "kiln dried" is in quotes because there was water on the surface of this wood. I'll have to look around for the next one I build for some better lumber, If we could come up with some 8/4 s2s (or maybe this'd be the excuse to buy a benchtop planer) at a decent price we'd be in for a hundred or two on lumber, but then it'd be an heirloom rather than a fun toy.

Of course then I'd have to learn how to carve, too...

  Rocking horse rough cut I cut with the jig saw, dropped a 3/8" roundover on everything with the router, sanded the living daylights out of it, and used the router again.


  Rocking horse clamped up Here's the clamp-up, somewhere in there you missed a whole lot of sanding because the long jigsaw blade wandered quite a bit while cutting two thicknesses of wet fir 2x12. Next time I trace both from a pattern and cut both. In fact I'll probably cut patterns from 1/4" ply, trace and cut blanks, and then use a router with a bearing bit to take the pieces to size. And then I drilled holes for dowels for the legs, stuffed dowels in 'em, applied glue, and crossed my fingers that everything would fit, because I didn't want to try to get those dowels apart so I didn't do a dry run, as I clamped 'em together.

  Rocking horse rockers While the body was drying, I cut and beveled the cross slats. I was going to just do a roundover, but the plans suggested a bevel, and I thought it'd be cool to try something new. Slats were cut to length from 1x8 pine, ripped to get the 3½" slat, and then beveled with the circular saw on the rail. The rip bevel cuts were tough to line up, next time I build a horizontal fence for alignment rather than doing it with a ruler.

  Rocking horse unclamped

  Rocking horse lifted up for final sanding Set it up on sawhorses for a final sanding, a lick and a promise, which, as it turns out, was a bit of a mistake, but we'll rectify that...


  Rocking horse first pass of finish I decided to go with a "dark walnut" stain and finish combo, because we had a lot of it lying around, annd because I thought the dark color would hide some of the fact that I was working with some really cheap-ass wood. "Kiln dried" in construction fir means "only a little standing water", so there were various discolorations and such that may not be visible in the raw wood pictures, but were there.

  Rocking horse first pass of finish first pass on the finish looks kind of splotchy, but we'll get there. Should have sanded some more, but oh well.

Next up, a few more passes of finish, and I need to route a gap in the neck for the mane and drill a hole in the butt for the tale, (which we're going to do from some of the miles of black cord we have), and then build the seat. We've got the foam and upholstry fabric picked out (yeah, leather would be ultra cool, but this is my first one), so that's just a matter of cutting the seat and stapling things up.


          Final finish was several coats of shellac, the cording for the tail and mane was put in with 5 minute epoxy, the through post was attached with cyanoacrylate, because the standard yellow wood glue wouldn't stick to or cure on the shellaced materials.

Notes for the next one, and there will be a next one:

  • For as small as my young nephew William currently is, I really should have built this half-scale out of 4/4 lumber, planning on building another larger one later. Maybe I will still build a small one.
  • Fir is too soft to really do a stained finish on, it'll have white marks all over it by the time he beats it around for a while. Heck, probably by the time I deliver it this weekend. If I watch the various lumber suppliers well I may even be able to pick up red oak cheap enough to make another one...
  • Next time make patterns and match all sides with a bearing bit on the router.
  • Although it matches my own hair pattern, the mane should extend further over the head. In fact I've seen a few rocking horses since starting this one that used walnut or another dark wood for the mane and tail, making them solid pieces, and I think I like that.
  • I'll probably end up doing some sort of ladder or stirrup system for this one, because William is still small, I need to make notes when we deliver it to him.
  • I'm going to have to disassemble it slightly to fit it in the car... Bummer.


    As expected, the rocking horse is ''way'' too big for William now. He'll grow into it.

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