A Special Unicorn Project #1: The Planning Stages

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Blog entry by William posted 09-20-2010 05:53 AM 8519 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of A Special Unicorn Project series Part 2: Finally An Actual Start »

I’m switching gears here and starting on a new project that just a couple days ago, wasn’t even on my radar. I mean I don’t have to even start this project right this second, but I can’t wait to get started on it. So, I decided I didn’t want to wait. I’m going to push this one to the front burner and get started on it. I’m going to be building a Rocking Unicorn. I build a lot of rocking toys. Most of what I build though, I build with no idea what is to become of it after it is done. Projects like this one, where I know pretty much what the use of it will be before I even begin, I get particular pleasure from. I also love it when the person who’s wanting it isn’t exactly too specific about exactly how they want it. That sort of leaves me open to get a little creative with the project. This one is even more so. Let me explain. I have a Rocking Unicorn to build. I’ve got about two months to build it. I am also supposed to be building my wife a Rocking Unicorn in the future too. The one for my wife will be displayed, not ridden. The other one will be for a small child too actually ride. Therefore, I can be as creative as I like with the one I’m fixing to start. If the customer for some reason isn’t exactly happy with what I build, then I know my wife will and I’ll have plenty of time to start over from scratch with a little less creative design that they will be happier with.
Now more about my planning stages. Since I’m wanting to unleash my own ideas on this design, I have to start with a solid plan. I am building this with the intentions of a child being able to ride it. Therefore, before I am going to be able to add detail one, I’ve got to have a stable animal to start with. Of course, a unicorn is basically a horse with a horn. So, I really need to start with a beautiful horse. I had a horse in mind. I wanted to start with the carousel horse design. You can see the carousel horse here . My problem is that horse is not a very stable design. That particular plans was originally drawn as an art piece, not necessarily for riding. It does mention in the instructions how you can use a metal pole to make it stable enough for riding. I don’t want to use a metal pole though. I want it to be made entirely of wood. So, I racked my brain all Saturday trying to figure out what kind of horse design I wanted to use. I’ve seen hundreds, maybe thousands, of different plans for sale online for different style horses. I just think the carousel horse would make a beautiful unicorn though. So I’m back to the carousel horse.
So why can’t I use the carousel horse? I’m being creative with this one, right? All I got to do is to take an unstable design and make it stable while still keeping it’s beauty. No problem, right? Well, yes and no. So, today was spent with the plans laid out and taking many measurements and scratching my head with several ideas. This is the part of projects like this I love the most. I start to thinking about what it is I need to do and how I want it to look as an end result and it’s like I’m a child again. I can dream the unimaginable.
I’m not sure yet which way I’m going to go with this. First off for the stability issue, whatever way I go, if you look closely under the horse there are forward and rearward supports on either side of the pole. I’ll use those and also add left and right supports.
Next is the feet. I need the feet to come into contact with the rocker assembly to make it stable. I have two ideas on that. To be honest, which one I use, in situations like this, probably won’t be decided until I start builing. No explanations, that’s just how I do it sometime. One way is to play with the length and angle of the legs to get them down into contact with the rockers. The other idea is to leave the horse as is, with the more of an upward tilt to it’s body and add something that looks like rocks underfoot. I got that idea from a portrait my wife has of a beautiful unicorn standing on a rocky cliff.
The next idea is for a saddle or not for a saddle. I don’t know if a unicorn is going to look right with a saddle. I believe the horse’s body has enough of a curve that there is no need for a saddle. Again, this one will probably be decided while building. I can cut in the saddle area. If it doesn’t look right, that’s what sanders are for.
The next is going to be color scheme. On this one I’m going to have to get with the future owners of this. I know the unicorn will be white. I’ve already got the go ahead for flowers on the rockers. I do dearly want though to incorporate the flowing details of the tail and mane though. I have to find out if white with pink contrast is going to be ok there. I also want to make sure I can use flowers and leaves across the back of the horse. I doubt I’m going to stain the rockers dark on this one. I’d like a light color, giving it a lofty feel. For the horn, I’m leaning towards white with gold spiral leading to the tip. Again, I’ll be finding out if that is going to be ok.
So, anyway, this is going to be my new project. I plan on starting the actual build tomorrow. All I have done on it so far is a lot of thinking and planning. Yet, I’m already getting excited about this one.


5 comments so far

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3047 days

#1 posted 09-21-2010 05:00 AM

Sounds like a good project! Any ideas on how long it will take you on this build?

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2949 days

#2 posted 09-21-2010 12:53 PM

This really sounds like an amazing project, William! It is great that you take so much time and thought when you are planning, as that will certainly help when you execute your design. I looked at your carousel horse and it is really a beautiful piece of art. If the unicorn comes out anything like it (which I am sure it will) it will be a treasure.

I can’t wait to see the progress of this project. I hope you remember to take some pictures and update things regularly. I can almost picture it in my head from your description and I can’t wait to see the finished design.

Thanks so much for sharing this! It is good to see you having so much fun doing something you love!


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2871 days

#3 posted 09-21-2010 03:31 PM

I’m not sure about how long a project like this will take until I finish it. The shape is going to be based loosely on the carousel horse. That horse, with all the little details on it, took around a hundred and fifty hours.
Sheila, I will be sure to post all I can while building it. Unfortunately though, everything just got pushed back a few days. My son’s truck broke down on him. So, I’m having to take a few days to help him with that. He’s having to change the flywheel and clutch. I’m not a lot of help with that kind of work anymore, except giving advice and making sure it’s done correctly. The problem though is that the truck is taking up the front of the shop right now and it’s hard to get any work done with it up there.
I’ll have to wait until probably thursday now to start this project, but I promise there will be pictures of the progress.


View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 2917 days

#4 posted 09-22-2010 02:54 PM

Hi William.

Here’s an idea for you, not specifically for this unicorn, but for a future rocking horse perhaps.

You know how many carousel horses have their front legs raised? Well here’s a way to keep that look but still be stable enough for the rockers. Make the horse a “show jumper” going over a fence. The knees would be in contact with the fence, supporting them at the front while the rear legs would be extended as if the horse is just about to launch itself over the fence. This gives you a fore end high attitude and will look much different from any other rocking horse you’ve seen. You could decorate the piece to any level desired, from a simple western or english saddle to a fancy carousel paint job or even a full blown gold leaf trimmed unicorn. Whichever trim you choose, it will look very impressive and give many years of proud ownership to it’s “jockey”.

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2871 days

#5 posted 09-25-2010 08:38 PM

That is a great idea Mr. Tiny. I may just use that one in the near future. I’m still playing with ideas on how exactly I want to keep the look I wish for on this unicorn while still adding stability. You fence idea may be just the ticket. I’m not sure yet. Even if I don’t use it on this one though, I guarantee you that your idea will get some use in the fuure.
I also wish to apologize to all. I was supposed to start this project last week. As we all know though, things don’t always work out like we want. It has been a rough week and thinking about this project is all I’ve been able to do. Early in the week, my son’s truck was taking up half the shop for repairs. Then as soon as we got that moved out out and I was ready to start the project, I got a phone call from my brother. He’s a contractor and his cabinet man retired unexpectedly because of health reasons. So he had to find a way to build some cabinets himself. This was some thing he was not prepared to do, either in the skill or tools department. So he thought of me.
Now, I don’t build cabinets. I know how, but have found that my back doesn’t allow me to do the stooping and lifting that this kind of job requires. I was able to help him build them though in my shop. Well, we started anyway. I’m hoping that will be finished up and out of my shop, and my way, by the middle of the week. Then maybe I can get started.
I’m sorry I cannot post photos of the cabinets. They are going into the home of a bank president and my brother doesn’t wish for me to post photos for privacy reasons. This is a regular customer of his and he doesn’t even like my brother taking photos like he normally does just to put in an album of his work. Some customers are funny like that, but you have to respect it.


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