Rocking Horse #1: Every Little Boy Needs a Rocking Horse

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Blog entry by mot posted 12-15-2007 08:54 PM 8068 reads 2 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Rocking Horse series Part 2: Inlays! »

Well, I procrastinated on this little project enough. Our two year old son, Mot Jr. (aka The Vandal,) needs a Christmas Gift from the shop. My daughter wants an iPod. What’s a guy to do. I settled on a plan from Lee Valley for a nice little rocker and started the build 2 nights ago.

I started by grabbing some wood from the rack. I chose red oak because it’s what I have in abundance and after an attempt to resist it’s downfalls, I’ve become quite used to working with it and it’s special considerations. (ie. end grain porosity and ease of tearing fibers)

After doing some remedial grain matching and layout, I started to cut some pieces to make panels. The plan calls for the grain running parallel to the lines of the horse, so a panel for the body, neck, head, and tail need to be made. Most of my wood is under 6” as I prefer these widths. Most of what we have around here is rift sawn, so it’s advantageous to glue up smaller boards, with alternating grain, to resist cupping. The Festool MFT 1080 and TS55 plunge saw made very easy work of this part of the project.

After cutting pieces, I jointed, planed and ripped them to dimension. My jointer is a short bed so I prefer to work with smaller pieces. As I’m not a production shop, I don’t mind not making perfect use of my time by jointing, planing and ripping larger boards and then cutting them. I’m ready to make some panels. As this is a toy that is going to be beat around I used the Festool Domino with 5mm domi’s to help strengthen and align the edge glued panels.

The panels are glued and ready for clamping. I use green tape to keep the squeeze out off my clamps. I’ve tried all sorts of other means like wax paper and the like, but a run of tape, put the panel on, then peel the tape up that isn’t needed to facilitate the clamp sliding to position and crank em down.

After the panels were dried, I scraped most of the glue off, ran them through the drum sander, instantly wished that I scraped more than most of the glue off and the proceeded to spend the next 2 hours scraping, planing and sanding the burnt glue streaks on my new panels. Lesson learned. I tossed away the destroyed abrasive on the Performax 16-32 and then spent another 30 minutes piddling around with putting a new strip on. This is not typically a time consuming thing, but I should have just left the shop and took my migraine to bed. I’m on a deadline now though.

I used the Domino and 8mm x 50 mm domi’s to join up the panels. I could have used Dowelmax to do this part, but I didn’t have any 2” dowels and I wanted to get as much glue surface area as I could. I hope you can see what I mean by the direction of the grain running parallel to the lines of the horse now.

This did present some clamping challenges, but the MFT1080 helped out alot. I could have used dogs on my bench too, but this surface isn’t piled up with tools and other crap.

I used a jigsaw and a Bosch blade whose teeth have a neutral rake, to cut out the shape of the horse.

And we have something that more resembles a horse.

I have to run and get some walnut for some inlays for the tack and to make the saddle. I’ll make up the legs tonight and get ready to make the rockers. I haven’t worked out how I’m going to do that just yet as I want it to be a rocking horse, not a wobble horse. The plan calls for a trammel, but to save some dust, I’ll make a template and then pattern route them

The build continues!



-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

7 comments so far

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4048 days

#1 posted 12-16-2007 01:13 AM

Great project for you Tom, you get to use lots of tools and your little man will be pleased as punch.
That will probably become one of those cherished family heirlooms.
When are you starting work on building the iPod?


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3989 days

#2 posted 12-16-2007 01:13 AM

looks pretty horsey-fied. Why not a pony for the boy?

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4427 days

#3 posted 12-16-2007 02:10 AM

A true request from the cowboy. Looking great for the Faux horse.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4063 days

#4 posted 12-16-2007 02:11 AM

Bob, you were supposed to come to the shop to help with the iPod. Any project where I get to use lots of tools is on the short list!

Tom, I’ve got place to keep one, and people to take care of it when we can’t, but I’m not a horse person. Personally, I’d rather wrestle a crocodile than ride a horse. I might take a spin on this one when it’s done though.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6859 posts in 4006 days

#5 posted 12-16-2007 01:05 PM

Hey Mot;

May I suggest a custom saddle from Tom, when your done with the horse?

Nice job!

Don’t worry about wasting time with lessons learned. They seem to be the ones that stick! The more painful, the better remembered.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4063 days

#6 posted 12-16-2007 05:56 PM

A custom saddle…hmmmmm….not bad, Lee…not bad!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View bryano's profile


546 posts in 3960 days

#7 posted 12-16-2007 06:08 PM

Nice job Tom. Looks like labor of love.

-- bryano

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