Alligator Tail

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Forum topic by BentheViking posted 06-19-2011 05:24 AM 800 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1757 posts in 1383 days

06-19-2011 05:24 AM

My friend is having a son in September and I was thinking I would like to make a rocking horse for him. I got to thinking though, and considering we live in Louisiana, I decided it would be much more unique to make a rocking alligator.

I have most of it designed so far, but I am having a hell of a time figuring out how to make the tail. The head and body are both going to be about 15 inches and so I would think the tail should be somewhere similar. I think the body and head will be made from either 1×6 or 1×8. The body will be a rectangular box, roughly square on the ends (so either 5.5 or 7.5 square) and 15 inches long and the top will be hinged to allow for interior storage.

I would like to get something that gives a nice shape to the tail. Essentially I want it to curve and taper from the body to the tail tip. I want more 3Dness than just cutting a rough shape out of a single 1x or 2x. So far my best thought would be a timber and then carving the desired shape. I don’t think laminating pieces would look great once carved and may be more difficult to work with considering my rather limited tool selection. Depending on how beefy this tail ends up being I have no idea how I would like to go about joining the tail to the body.

The project will probably be done with pine that is going to be painted.

This is going to be an awesome project that I am really excited about and hopefully some of ya’ll have some helpful ideas. If you want more info and even some sketches, let me know and I will answer.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

8 replies so far

View rance's profile


4149 posts in 1980 days

#1 posted 06-19-2011 06:24 AM

Sandwich some heavy material(cloth) between two sticks, glued in place. Carve the tail to shape. Then cut slits on both sides all the way down with a bandsaw. Cut up to but not through the cloth sandwiched in the middle. This will let the tail swish back and forth.

Not my idea. I saw this done with a snake while browsing at Hobby Lobby yesterday.


-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View BentheViking's profile


1757 posts in 1383 days

#2 posted 06-19-2011 06:28 AM

I have indeed seen these before (even thought about making one before). I am not necessarily looking for the tail to move, I just want it to not be a triangular thing that just sticks straight out.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View BentheViking's profile


1757 posts in 1383 days

#3 posted 06-20-2011 02:43 AM

Redesigned a bunch of this today, but mostly with the way I am going to build the toy box section….still up in the air regarding the tail section though…if I can’t come up with a creative way to do it well I may just have to do something simple and uncreative.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View devann's profile


1819 posts in 1512 days

#4 posted 06-20-2011 09:09 AM

Leave the tail short, tell the boy that I ate it. He’s going to figure out what’s good to eat someday anyhow.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View CharlieM1958's profile


15889 posts in 3038 days

#5 posted 06-20-2011 03:03 PM

I ran across this… I assume the a pieces are held together with wire or string of some sort through the middle.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View mpounders's profile


758 posts in 1715 days

#6 posted 06-20-2011 07:49 PM

I had the same idea as Charlie…....maybe a triangle shape with the top point rounded over, then connect theses “slices’ to make a flexible tail. I was thinking of a slot cut from the bottom up through the middle with a piece of wide and thick leather providing the flexible joint.

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 2089 days

#7 posted 06-20-2011 08:21 PM

I have seen some made as Mike and Charlie show above…..some using leather or burlap as “hinges” between the pieces….I have seen some use a rope with knots holding the pieces of wood close together and allowing them some flex. If you do not want it to move…you could glue small pieces between large pieces into whatever shape you wanted – serpentine, straight…curved. You could make it a staved cone….coopering like a barrell….or make a skeleton out of small pine with a plywood “skin”.

There are many more ways to do this – One thing though…making it out of solid wood would be a bit heavy….unless you use some very light wood…In order to make it rock correctly, both sides of the center should weigh the same.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View BentheViking's profile


1757 posts in 1383 days

#8 posted 06-21-2011 12:08 AM

good point reggie, I really hadn’t thought about anything in terms of counterbalance. I actually think I came up with a new idea today with a guy I work with. 1x on the top in bottom in the shape I want, then a couple of blocks on the interior that get smaller to allow the tail to get narrower. Then use some bendable plywood on the sides and flush rout it. should give me the shape I want and won’t be solid wood. Then use some screws on the inside of the box body to go into the tail to hold the two sections together.

I think I have my design just about done now, but since I won’t be starting for a few more weeks (more pressing projects first) I will probably have several more design changes.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

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