Showing posts from 2014

Sanding and Shaping

In previous posts, I completed the assembly of the stand and the rocking horse itself, so all the major parts are now complete; the next stage of construction will come pretty much at the end of the project - mounting the horse on the stand.  Before that though, there's a whole lot of sanding to be done!

Sanding the stand is straightforward; the wood is already very smooth as delivered and it consists mainly of large flat surfaces.  You should ideally have sanded each piece down to around 220 grit sandpaper before assembly, so the main tasks now are to ensure that there are no rough spots or glue residue left anywhere and to ensure that the wedged tenon joints are sanded flush.  You can use an electric sander for most of this, but the posts are a little trickier and you'll need to do those by hand, and take your time. If you'll be dying your horse, like I did, it's important to get a consistent smoothness across each piece, because the dye will be absorbed differently b…

On to the Rails

At this stage, with the stand and the horse's body completely assembled, I decided to make a small modification to the two rails.  These are the lengths of wood to which the horse's feet get bolted, and which receive the ends of the hangers.  As supplied, these were shaped to a point at each end, and were pre-drilled for the hangers, but they had sharp square edges. As all the stand's parts had nicely chamfered edges, I decided to add a chamfer to the rails as well.

The only slightly tricky thing here was to NOT chamfer the two areas on each rail where the horse's feet would go; I didn't want to be left with a gap where the chamfered edge ran under the feet. With the stand and the horse's body and legs assembled, I dry-fitted everything together so that I could lower the horse on the rails, drill holes for the horse's mounting bolts, and mark the outline of where each foot overlapped onto the rail.

With this done, I used a chamfering bit in my router table to…

Attaching the Legs

The horse's legs are supplied as simple shapes cut from a single sheet of plywood (not laminations like the body) with some milling on the outside of each leg to give it a more horse-leggy shape. Importantly, the inside face of each leg is bevelled where it joins the body - this is what makes the legs splay out slightly from the body when it's all assembled. As with the body, this is done very accurately so it all fits together perfectly without any adjustment or fettling required.

Each leg has two dowels to locate it into place on the body; both the leg and the body have pre-drilled dowel holes which makes fitting the legs very easy. Two screws per leg are also supplied, but there are no pre-drilled holes for the screws, so I just selected a spot for each screw that looked reasonable - not too close to the dowels, and also ensuring that the screw would bite into a solid bit of the body behind. Drill a 4mm hole through the leg for each screw, and countersink each hole to make…

Assembling the Body

With the assembled stand put safely to one side, I started on assembling the body of the horse.  Using some coarse 80-grit sandpaper, I quickly cleaned up all the edges of the mating surfaces to remove all the loose fibres and bits of tear-out that were left from the milling process - I didn't want anything to stop the two halves from coming together as closely as possible.

Working on a soft surface, I laid one body half on top of the other to check the fit; I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was very good.  The mating surfaces were very flat, so they went together well with only a hairline gap visible in a couple of places - nothing that couldn't easily be clamped out during glueing.

The body halves are located together using dowels - two at the bottom, front and rear, and a thinner dowel through the horse's eye holes.  Each of the dowel holes goes right through the body, so I marked the centre of each dowel before applying some PVA glue and tapping them into plac…

Building the Stand

Building the rocking horse's stand is quite straightforward. There are only eight parts and everything is pre-drilled so there's no measuring or laying out required.

Before going further, I must apologise for the small number of photos in this post - I didn't take enough of this stage of the build, but it's all fairly self-explanatory so I don't think too much is lost.

The parts are: the top rail, the bottom rail, the two turned vertical posts, two large feet and two small feet. The top and bottom rails, and the two large feet, all have large-diameter mortice holes pre-drilled to accept the cylindrical tenons on either end of the turned posts.

I dived straight in and glued and screwed the four feet to the bottom rail, using the pre-drilled pilot holes for alignment; unfortunately I then found that the mortice holes in the large feet didn't quite line up with the holes in the bottom rail, so that the posts' tenons wouldn't fit. I spent 20-30 minutes filing …

What's in the Box

The Rivelin rocking horse kit was delivered in three parts: one large cardboard box, strapped to a pallet, contained all the wooden parts, the hardware, the leather parts (saddle and tack) and the grooming kit. Around the same time, a shoe-box-sized delivery arrived containing the horse hair, some wood dye, some varnish and some sandpaper (Harry had included the sandpaper, very coarse 40-grit, to get me started on the substantial amount of sanding required... but more on that later). Finally, a Jiffy bag containing our custom-engraved brass plaque arrived about a week later - this is sent directly from the engraver, though it was ordered via Harry/Ringinglow - we never dealt with the engraver directly.

Here's how the large box was packed:

And here are the components for the stand laid out:

There are actually two small foot blocks as well - I forgot to pose them in this photo. The next post in this series will show the assembly of the stand; it goes together very easily. The only thin…

Start to Finish

Our rocking horse kit came from The Ringinglow Rocking Horse Company, whose website is at They make traditional wooden rocking horses for sale direct to the public, and also through well-known retailers such as Harrods, Hamleys, Fenwicks & John Lewis. However, they're very expensive, around £1,500 (US$2,500) which was a little out of our reach.

What caught my eye was that Ringinglow also sell their horses in kit form (see here); I enjoy working with wood and have made a few toys and some basic furniture for our daughters, so the idea of making the horse myself from a kit, and saving some money into the bargain, was too good to ignore.

We contacted Harry at Ringinglow who was very supportive, giving me the confidence to go ahead and place the order.  In October 2013 I received this box of parts:

Some hardware isn't shown here, but the box contains everything you need to build, assemble and finish the horse and its stand, including a real leather s…