Varnishing and Hardware

The next step is to apply a couple of coats of varnish to the stand and the horse, and then assemble the stand. Things are really starting to come together!

There's not much to say about the varnishing. I used Ronseal's Ultra Tough Satincoat clear varnish. I didn't want a really glossy finish, hence the Satincoat, and I expected the horse and stand to get a few knocks from my three daughters, hence the Ultra Tough. I brushed on three coats, sanding lightly between each coat with fine (240 grit) paper.

My biggest problem with the varnishing was that I was doing this in an unheated detached garage in the UK in mid-December, so the temperature was barely 5°C (40°F): too cold for the varnish. It gets quite treacly at those temperatures, resulting in a pretty thick coat each time. That's why (I think) the finish ended up quite glossy, despite using a satin varnish. I did try warming up the tin of varnish with a fan heater, but that didn't make a lot of difference - I should probably have thinned it down a bit.

Anyway, the results turned out pretty nicely in the end, as you can see:






I suspended the leg rails from the rafters for convenience.



The thick coat of varnish needed a good week to dry properly before moving on to the next step, which is assembling the stand.

The hardware consists of two hangers, which are thick pieces of brass (I think) rod bent into a U shape, two nylon bearing plates, two brass hinge caps, and four sets of washers, split pins and brass caps for the leg rail mounts. These are provided with the kit.

The necessary bolt holes and bearing slots are already machined into the stand's top beam on delivery. The white nylon bearing plates fit into the slots snugly (you might need to sand them down slightly to get a good fit) and the the hanger simply sits on top and gets held in place by the brass hinge cap: 



Four carriage bolts go through the top beam to hold the hinge cap in place:



Repeat that for both the front and back hangers.

Now the leg rails just slide over the lower ends of the hangers. With the leg rail in place, put a washer over the end of the hanger, then put a split pin through the pre-drilled hole in the end of the hanger, and bend the ends of the split pin back so that it can't fall out:
  


When you're happy that everything's in place and moving freely, put a brass cap over each washer/split-pin combo:


Mine just had one pre-drilled hole for the top screw in each case, so I tightened that screw to just grip the cap, got everything lined up and then drilled small (2mm) pilot holes for the two remaining screws before driving all the screws fully home.

The hardest part of all this was being extremely careful not to let a screwdriver or spanner slip and scratch the varnish!

The end result should be a completed stand like this:


 The leg rails should swing smoothly back and forth in unison. I rubbed a candle over all the sections of the hangers that rub against other pieces, hoping that the resulting thin coating of wax would keep things moving smoothly and quietly, and this seems to have worked - the horse still rocks very nicely even now, nearly three years later.

Next, I'll fit the horse's eyes and try mounting the horse onto the stand - exciting times.

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