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Thread: Rocking horse

  1. #1

    Rocking horse

    I am planning on making a rocking horse for my son. And hopefully all the kids that are to come in the future ;-). And would really like this to last for generations to come. With that being said Iím planning on making the rocking horse with light colored wood and have the accent pieces (harness, feet, pegs, etc) with a harder color like walnut. So my question is should I use hard maple or white oak or something else? Which would hold up the longest, accept stain better, easiest to work with and shape? I have done a good amount of woodworking in the last 3 years building furniture but have not used a lot of hard woods. So I am looking for some advice. Thanks!!

  2. #2
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    Maple is always a good choice for projects like this because it's sturdy and smooth with minimal pore structure. Coloring it is best done with dye for that reason...a pigment stain like you find in the home center isn't a good choice for maple in most cases, IMHO. Using a contrasting wood for highlights like the harness as you mention is a great way to keep this as a great woodworking project. Do note that walnut gets lighter over time. BTW, soft maple is a perfectly valid choice for this as an alternative to hard maple. It's not "soft", per se, and is often quite economical.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. Long ago when my 3 sons were small I designed a rocking horse and built it from framing SPF even though I had then and more so now, lots of hardwood around. Kids like to move toys about and a less heavy wood allows them to do so. My plan focused on safety as well, keeping the horse relatively small and close to the floor makes for good safety along with a rocker that has a wide stance and long enough arc to prevent spills. I doubt the lawyers would approve many designs Ive seen sold over the years? but it's worth keeping it as safe as possible.
    If I was making one today, I'd use yellow poplar as I saw it from my own timber and it does what you need in that toy. Stains well too thus why its used commercially in decent furniture to replicate walnut and cherry.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    You could use pretty much any hardwood you like. I used cherry for this one I did for a friend's daughters several years ago. It's a Trojan rocking horse (piggy bank). The trap door is held shut with magnets and accessed by removing the saddle.

    Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 6.47.30 AM.jpg

    Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 6.54.49 AM.jpg

    Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 6.53.54 AM.jpg

  5. #5
    Appreciate the advice. I was almost thinking of just using an oil for the finish. Like Linseed or tung oil to keep the woods natural color but also add a little protection. Any advice with this?

  6. #6
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    Most of the time when I use black walnut I used walnut stain to darken the wood and keep it from getting lighter through the years.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  7. #7
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    When I made a rocking horse for my first grandkid (now 31), I used the WOOD mag plan, and made a prototype out of construction lumber, so I could sort out details, like the seat shape, etc.

    The wife liked it, and had me make a dozen more, for all the nieces and nephews, any of which was better made than the prototype. When I asked her which one she wanted to keep...she chose the proto, "because it's the first one you made".

    Lesson learned, now any proto's are made of particle board.

    Confession: That example of 'fine woodworking' has been in our living room for 31 years, and 200+ pound grandkids still sit on it at Christmas parties....and it has a big knot right in the middle of one of the runners. Go figure.
    Rick Potter

    DIY journeyman,
    FWW wannabe.
    AKA Village Idiot.

  8. #8
    Rick,

    If I make this and it is still in the family 31 years later it would be an honor let alone the wife allowing it to be in the living room!!

    Has anyone put a finishing coat on it or just left it as is? I would think Poly wouldnít hold up to the years of abuse?

  9. #9
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    Do don't "need" finish on well sanded wood, John. It will stay cleaner, however, if you do put on at least a few coats of something that seals it up. Something thin and wipe on will not kick up much of a sheen but will help control the dirt over time.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  10. #10
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    I stained it with Minwax, in whatever tone was on the bench. It was probably 'Early American', because I was working on a kitchen at that time. I sprayed it with a coat of Poly, and that is all that was ever done to it.

    I went wild with some of the better ones. I remember staining one blue, and one green for the intended recipients.
    Rick Potter

    DIY journeyman,
    FWW wannabe.
    AKA Village Idiot.

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Rice View Post
    I am planning on making a rocking horse for my son. And hopefully all the kids that are to come in the future ;-). And would really like this to last for generations to come. With that being said I’m planning on making the rocking horse with light colored wood and have the accent pieces (harness, feet, pegs, etc) with a harder color like walnut. So my question is should I use hard maple or white oak or something else? Which would hold up the longest, accept stain better, easiest to work with and shape? I have done a good amount of woodworking in the last 3 years building furniture but have not used a lot of hard woods. So I am looking for some advice. Thanks!!
    I don't think the wood type matters much as the design and the appropriate size.

    I made this when my oldest son was a baby. He's almost 50 now. It's been through three sons, two grandsons, and lots of visiting kids. Some of the leather is gone now (it had a nice bridle, reins, perky ears, etc. The braided tail is still intact.)

    I built it from 4/4 shelving pine.

    rocking_horse.jpg rocking_horse_grandsons.jpg rocking_horse_exploded.jpg rocking_horse_plans_med.jpg

    This thing is still used a LOT. It's light enough for small kids to move it around. Small enough for toddlers, strong enough for playful teens!

    BTW, the shape of the ends of the runners provides tipping control.

    JKJ

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Many people add a light fixture or magazine racks (side saddle) to rocking animals when the children are grown. Some of the Wooden Memories plans include plans for adding one or both and they can be easily removed when the grand children arrive.

  13. #13
    Oak (red or white) is economical and easy to stain. It will be heavier though than pine. Pine is light, easy to work, and can stain fine if you use a gel stain. IMHO, maple is to worst of both worlds: not as easy to stain as oak, and heavier than pine.

    Walnut and cherry provide good color contrast without staining, but they will be expensive vis-a-vis pine and red oak.

    One bit of learned advice: don't make a tail, unless it's strictly, dangling hair like Mick's steed. A rigid tail will break off faster than you can say "Giddyup".

  14. #14
    I truly appreciate everyoneís input. I probably should have included a picture of what Iím trying to accomplish. Here is a link.

    https://toymakingplans.com/antique-1890-rocking-horse/

    So my plan as of now is white oak with walnut for the contrast pieces.

    -I guess I will use a light stain on the oak to highlight the grain more. Or possibly an oil to keep it natural? And probably just walnut stain on the walnut. Then spray a couple light coats of Poly on it.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Pittsburgh
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    I’ve built a few for family and friends with all kinks of wood. This group I did last for Christmas has multiple woods used. Two of the bodies are maple and one is pine. Most all other details are walnut. I carved the seats from solid walnut or maple and inlaid the other parts. The bodies are held together with Dominos. In the past I used dowels

    my apologizes for the pictures being turned. Also the rockers are all salted maple. I have a lot of it so that’s what I used
    Last edited by Ben Abate; 12-03-2019 at 9:16 PM.
    sometimes it's people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one imagines. Alan Turing

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