Build An Heirloom Rocking Horse

For Your Child or Grandchild




Use a hand saw or portable circular saw to cut the boards into manageable pieces for cutting on your band saw. Your saw kerf will be wider than your pen lines, so try to split them, sawing on the waste side of the lines. You can use a saber saw at this point if you don't have access to a band saw, but be sure to buy a few premium quality blades. They will make the cutting much easier and faster. Use either saw to cut your pieces, carefully making the saw kerf a smooth even line. Once the pieces are completely cut out, remove the saw marks and smooth the edges with your belt sander. In wooden boat building there is emphasis on getting a "fair" curve in the hull. Fair curves are smooth and even? Look at your curves. Are they smooth and "fair"? A carefully applied belt sander can even out band-sawn hills and valleys. This smoothing can be accomplished by hand, but allow extra time. If I didn't have a bench mounted belt sander, I would use a combination of hand plane, spoke shave and hand sanding, and I'd have thicker calluses on my hands.

Now, trim the bottom ends of the legs on your table or radial arm saw to an angle of 24 degrees; the ends should be very smooth. Be sure to back up the cut with a piece of scrap to prevent chipout.


Drill a "3/8" inch hole through either end of the foot rest as shown on the pattern. I usually use a size V or W bit here. (See the section ahead on Dowels and Drills for more information on drill sizes V & W.) This hole is close to the end grain and splitting is likely, so make the hole a little larger than ordinary. Drill sizes V and W are each a few thousandths over 3/8 inch. The horse's head needs 3 holes drilled completely through. Two are 3/4 inch diameter and one is 1 1/4 inch. See the pattern for placement. Be careful when the drill bit exits the bottom of the board. You want to avoid the possibility of chip out. A good method is to clamp a piece of scrap to the back of the work before you drill. If you use a contrasting color of scrap you have a visual indicator of your depth as the shavings appear.


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To the creative workman who makes things with his hands belongs an efficiency and a merit of a peculiarly substantial and definitive kind; he is the type and embodiment of efficiency and serviceability.

The Instinct of Workmanship (1914)

Thorstein Veblen











Wood is universally beautiful to man. It is the most humanly intimate of all materials.

Man loves his association with it: likes to feel it under his hand, sympathetic to his touch and his eye.

Architectural Record - May 1928

Frank Lloyd Wright

Sister shares a ride on this Christmas rocking horse.

John Michael Linck - Toymaker

2618 Van Hise Avenue - Madison, Wisconsin 53705

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