A Special Unicorn Project #6: Time To Start Ironing Out The Details

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Blog entry by William posted 10-06-2010 01:55 PM 1255 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: The Rocker Assembly Part 6 of A Special Unicorn Project series Part 7: The Head »

Well, as usual, my wife is always right. I told her with my doctor’s appointments and all for Monday and Tuesday, that I wasn’t even going to try going to the shop. I was just going to take it easy. She told me as she was walking out the door Monday to go pick the kids up from school that I’d be over there doing something. She was right. I just couldn’t stand it. I was painting before she got back home.
What you see above is the first coat of paint on the unicorn and the rocker assembly. Both of these will get another coat. The rocker assembly will also get multiple more coats along the bottom edge where it meets the floor.
I have had a concern about this project from the beginning about how I was going to attach the detail pieces. I usually stain instead of painting and have never had this problem. I had a worry about how the detail pieces were going to hold up glued to a painted surface. I done some scientific experiments yesterday. That’s what I’m calling it anyway. I cut a length of wood and painted it the same as these pieces. Then I took several scraps of wood and attached them in different ways. I used contact cement on one, super glue on another. I used my usual Gorilla wood glue on another. I have an electric staple gun that shoots 5/8” brads, so I also tried each of these methods with and without brads. In the end, with two hours dry time, the one I’m going to go with is Gorilla wood glue with brads. I made this decision based on the fact that this particular test piece is still attached to that strip because I couldn’t get it off. The other methods, although a few of them took quite a bit of effort, I was able to break off the test strip.
I was thrilled to get to this point. Now it was time to get over to my best friend, the scroll saw.

I started with the head. In previous photos, the head and tail have just been attached to the body with dowel pins. I wanted to be able to remove them so I can work on the details easier. I will glue them on after all the small pieces are attached. For the head, not counting the eye and nose pieces, there are twenty one seperate pieces on each side for the hair. The pattern you see in the photo is from the carousel horse that the general shape is based on. I am not using the bridle and saddle on the unicorn. I just don’t think all that would look right on a unicorn.
Let’s talk about the hair pieces on the head. For both sides, we’re talking about forty-two seperate pieces. I have learned the hard way that if you aren’t careful, this can quickly turn into a jigsaw puzzle from hell. While there are countless ways to accomplish the same result, this is the easiest way for me. I stack cut all my pieces on a scroll saw. As I cut away each piece, I number them, 1L, 1R, 2L, 2R, 3L and so forth all the way through the pieces. I have them numbered accordingly on the pattern.
After all the pieces are cut I use a spindle sander to remove the “fuzzies” from the back that are left from the scroll saw. I also slightly taper over all the edges.

Then all the pieces get painted before applying them to the head. In the past I have spray painted pieces such as these. All of this project is being hand painted though. The easiest way I have found to do this is to use tape. I rolled masking tape around itself, forming a loop. Then I attach each piece to a board to paint on and paint them. Small, hobby type brushes come in handy.
For anyone who hasn’t read about my carousel horse project, the tape idea came from my wife. When I built that, she watched me getting aggrevated with small pieces flying away on me every time I tried spray painting them. After laughing at me for a while, she walked over without saying a word, rolled the tape up, stuck a few pieces to the wood and walked away. It seems that the simplest ideas are always the ones that escape me.


3 comments so far

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3074 days

#1 posted 10-06-2010 11:45 PM

Nice tip about the tape, thanks. You are progressing right along and I must say it is looking good.

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2976 days

#2 posted 10-07-2010 01:36 AM

Everything looks great, William. I learned to number things when I started doing segmentation projects. One of the first ones that I did was a hummingbird. It had many, many little wing pieces and either one of the kitties or myself upset the tray that I was putting the pieces on as I cut them out. It took a long time to figure out the right order to reassemble them in. It would probably have been quicker to re-cut them! I now use double sided tape on a scrap board and lay the pieces on it as I am finished cutting each of them, in addition to numbering them. You can’t be too careful!

I also wanted to mention that I use 2-part epoxy for lots of my gluing needs. The stuff I get is available for about $6 at the hardware store, but recently it has show up at the dollar store for – you guessed it – a dollar! This is the double syringe where you squirt out both parts at once so it is easy and it sets in 5 minutes. I use a piece of tin foil and a popsicle stick to mix and apply and when I am done I roll everything up and toss it in the garbage. Fast, easy, clean. I think your choice is better for this project, but the epoxy is good for many other uses with woodworking. Just a thought!

Thanks for posting such a nice blog! I really have enjoyed seeing it!

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

View William's profile


9950 posts in 2898 days

#3 posted 10-07-2010 04:55 AM

I actually considered epoxy. I have used that in the past on pieces that were more artistic in nature. My concern here though was that the small pieces stay put from now on. This one is being build for a child to actually play on and I know if any pieces are to come off, those are the exact ones the child will find and start pulling on. Also, I have applied many pieces in the past over stained wood with no problem. This one is different though.
First of all, you know I’m building this for KTMM’s daughter. It was known upfront that he wanted this to be a white unicorn. Paint was the only way for me to get white. This is the first time I’ve glued pieces onto painted wood though. The head is done. You can see it in the next installment (will be posted shortly). I did glue the pieces with Gorilla wood glue and use 5/8” brads. I had problems. You can read about that in the next installment too. I need to learn now though about applying onto painted surfaces though. My wife is also a unicorn lover and is already talking about what colors she wants hers painted.


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