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My First Rocking Horse #1: Sawdust everywhere

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Blog entry by Dan Lyke posted 03-06-2007 07:52 PM 1256 reads 1 time favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of My First Rocking Horse series Part 2: Just a little horse »

While I’ve been involved in the lives and upbringing of several kids (a few of whom are now adults, or a reasonable approximation thereof), a year and a half ago or so I became a biological uncle. And there are certain things that are expected of uncles.

My image of this involved road trips through the American Southwest in a convertible Cadillac, culminating by getting banned from several casinos and being frog-marched to the outskirts of Vegas by the local constabulary, but that should probably wait ‘til he’s at least got his learner’s permit.

Scaling back a little bit, potato cannons or blowing things up in other ways are always a good fallback, but when they’re that small their little fingers can’t really operate a lighter, especially with these newfangled safety catches they put on ‘em, so “boom” is out for the moment. And he’s already learning to talk, so my opportunity for first words is gone, “La ga voo lin, neat” is right out (“No, really, names of Scotches count as a foreign language!”).

So I’m building him a rocking horse. Almost annoyingly wholesome and traditional, but he’s got his whole life in front of him to experience the sorts of debauchery and partying that I envision in his future, so we’ll start with the mundane.

At this point, those of you who’ve built a rocking horse are snickering at my use of the word “mundane”. When I asked about toys I could build him and my sister said “a rocking horse”, I too had a moment of “by the time I finish carving that, he’ll have paid off his house”, and, sensing my hesitation, she scaled back to “or a helicopter”, and I agreed that perhaps a helicopter was a more reasonable solution.

But as I started to look at how to build a toy helicopter… well… I could cut out the profile, slap rotors on it, poof, but that seemed… well… anti-climactic (not anti-climatic, that’s global warming). And I could build something incredibly detailed, with working cyclic controls (a great educational opportunity!) and doors and people… for someone who’s probably going to chew on it. And as I was searching around, trying to find inspiration for a reasonable compromise, I stumbled across http://www.freerockinghorseplans.com/ .

Which looked doable. Easy even. And I could build it out of 2×12 fir, cheap and easy to work. In fact, I could even use the 6” blade on the jig saw, clamp pieces together and do the cuts side by side…

Lessons learned so far: First, no matter how much I want to think that that 6” blade on the jigsaw is just as good as a bandsaw? Yeah, it ain’t. Which brings me to:

Second, no matter how easy it is to screw up and sand too deeply when you’re in the finishing phase, bringing two pieces of “2 by” “kiln dried FSC certified” (ie: standing water on the surface) fir to the same profile with a sander, even with a sanding drum on a drill, takes a looong time and generates a lot of sawdust.

Even with the fancy Festool dust collection.

So the “12 hours” that Shopsmith (the provider of those plans) estimates? Yeah, if I’d done this right and built some templates and used a router and a bearing bit to bring the profiles to their final dimensions, that’d work. But I’m betting I’ve got another 12 hours yet of sanding.

On the other hand, much like some things my grandfather made for me, I’m hoping that this will be the sort of memory he’ll tear up a bit when thinking about several decades hence.

Dan working on the rocking horse Rough cut parts laid out

Further updates as the project progresses…

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/User:DanLyke



16 comments so far

View Bill's profile

Bill

2579 posts in 2819 days


#1 posted 03-06-2007 08:21 PM

I will be looking forward to the rest of this story (thanks Paul Harvey).

-- Bill, Turlock California, http://www.brookswoodworks.com

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2818 days


#2 posted 03-06-2007 08:53 PM

it is looking good but the “mother” in me feels my heart pounding in fear at the rest of the story!! hahaa

Don’t you just love the “lessons learned”???

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View jpw1995's profile

jpw1995

376 posts in 2956 days


#3 posted 03-06-2007 09:20 PM

You could always make a pnuematic potato cannon. No lighters involved. Just some compressed air and a little red button. Even the smallest fingers can push a button. It would seem as though I missed the point, wouldn’t it?

It looks like your rocking horse is going to turn out great. Can’t wait to see the finished product.

-- JP, Shelbyville, KY

View DaveC's profile

DaveC

39 posts in 2807 days


#4 posted 03-06-2007 09:30 PM

Better yet. Mount a pneumatic potato canon to the front of the rocking horse when you are done!

On second thought…..

Dave.

-- Dave.

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2818 days


#5 posted 03-06-2007 09:32 PM

((shaking my head))) boys.. boys boys….

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View jpw1995's profile

jpw1995

376 posts in 2956 days


#6 posted 03-06-2007 09:48 PM

Genious, Dave. Why didn’t I think of that?

-- JP, Shelbyville, KY

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 2972 days


#7 posted 03-07-2007 12:02 AM

Shades of fear and loathing on the lumberjocks trail.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1474 posts in 2783 days


#8 posted 03-07-2007 12:47 AM

“We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the teeth of the bit began to take hold…”

So the problem I’ve had with a pneumatic cannon is building a reasonable dump valve. I’ve done some fun stuff with soda bottles pumped up to a hundred PSI (ringing ears and all, it started with an attempt to marinate asparagus at high pressure, and continued in a different direction after an asparagus spear disintegrated on the cookbook shelf), but even there the problem is a valve that opens fast and all at once. And I don’t have a high volume high pressure compressor yet, and all of the mechanisms I can think of for dump valves are likely to have some leakage.

Maybe this is how I justify a 12CFM 100 PSI compressor to my sweety…. ‘cause she likes things that go boom and whoosh, possibly even more than I do.

I do like the idea of a mounted weapon. Maybe I need to hollow the body out so that on some later visit I can retrofit the saddle to have a rifle scabbard…

And, Debbie, don’t worry, my dad may be missing a few fingers, but I’ve still got all of mine…

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/User:DanLyke

View Obi's profile

Obi

2213 posts in 2895 days


#9 posted 03-07-2007 01:05 AM

Make the rocking horse like tha plans call for, and show your sister that you mean no harm. Then… Make him a little mortor cycle. A Motorcycle that he can scoot around on, armed like something form James Bond. Have the little potatoe Cannon mounted on the handle bars like a law’s rocket and by then he should be about 4 or 5 and can blast things off the kitchen table. “Unca Danny made it for me.” :D And when your sister comes at him with the “Mom” look he can defend himself with the Handlebar mounted arsenal.

I think we’re about to come up with something great here.

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2818 days


#10 posted 03-07-2007 12:57 PM

oh I feel SO much better.
(still shaking my head)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View Obi's profile

Obi

2213 posts in 2895 days


#11 posted 03-07-2007 03:47 PM

Testosterone levels are high, Debbie. And Lumberjocks.com is actually an extension of the shop. This is like the “Office” to the shop, so don’t be suprised.

View jpw1995's profile

jpw1995

376 posts in 2956 days


#12 posted 03-07-2007 03:51 PM

Hey Dan, check out this dump valve.

SupahValve

-- JP, Shelbyville, KY

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2818 days


#13 posted 03-07-2007 04:29 PM

I promise that I was not surprised.
(still shaking my head)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View Obi's profile

Obi

2213 posts in 2895 days


#14 posted 03-07-2007 05:37 PM

O.K. People, we appearently have a Debbie “Bobble-Head” Doll (still shaking her head)

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2818 days


#15 posted 03-07-2007 05:44 PM

but she’s not crying !!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

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