Monday, February 20, 2017

Laminated Plywood Rocking Horse

The idea of a rocking horse first came when my older brother and his wife gave birth to their first child. As a woodworker, I fell I wanted to give them something representative of my passion for wood that could be transferred for multiple generations. I began searching the Internet to find an example of a rocking horse I would find interesting to build. I found it at The Rocking Horse Shop, UK. They specialized in carved traditional rocking horses. They can sell you anything from the plan only to the complete horse. Be aware, they are not cheap.
I decided to give it a try and ordered the medium sized Rocky plans. It is made of laminated birch plywood and a wood base. Basically, the plan is all the shapes overlaid in a 1 to 1 scale. I managed to find a place that was able to scan that size of plan, then imported it in AutoCad to retrace it, nested on a 4 x 8 stock, and outsourced for CNC machining. I knew I wanted to make two, so I didn’t want to spend all that time on the jig saw, plus the result was much cleaner and I could use one set as a template.
Once I received the pieces, I simply glued everything with regular PVA glue. The two halves were glued and then put together. The centre is hollow to reduce the weight. Once it is together, you can start carving. I tried a few different methods but finally my best combination was the Lancelot chainsaw attachment for the angle grinder, then sanding disks (flaps) again on the angle grinder and finally sanding drums on my drill. I also used smaller sanding drums on my dremel.
This is a great project to start with if you are not that confident with your carving skills as I was, since the shapes appear like magic just by reaching the junction of each plywood layer. The head is a little trickier but instructions are provided to help you create the details. The hardware, saddle, mane and tail came in a kit that I bought and mounted following instructions. The finish is clear polyurethane.
I made a second one a few years after for my kids which was basically the same but took less time. It also makes for a very unique showpiece in the living room!

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