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 place - knocking each one through until the centre mark was flush with the surface of the body. I let the glue dry for 10-15 minutes so that the dowels wouldn't move when bringing the two body halves together - I wanted to be reasonably sure that the dowels would be centred between the body halves when it was all assembled.

Next, it's time to bring the two body halves together. I checked again for any loose fibres or anything else that might stop the two halves from joining properly, then spread a good amount of PVA over the entire mating surfaces of both halves, including the exposed ends of the dowels. Then drop one body half on top of the other, ensure that the dowels are aligned with the dowel holes, and tap them together, being careful not to mark the wood surface. When they're together, the body will stand upright, and can be clamped up while the glue dries.

Clamping the body needed a little planning. It's easy to get two clamps across the leg recesses on the bottom edge; another clamp or three will go across the horse's neck, cheeks and nose to hold the head and neck together, though these need a bit of care to avoid damaging something.

I found that I still needed some clamping around the middle of the body to get it all to come tightly together; you could make some fancy custom clamping jig for this, or maybe lie the horse on its side and pile some weight on top, but I decided to just use some rope - it was simple, safe and got the job done.

As you can see in the photo, I tied some rope loosely round the horse's middle and then used the handle of my mallet to twist the rope tight; when it was tight enough (I could see some glue being squeezed out of the joint), I used a loose end of the rope to hold the mallet handle in place.

After letting the glue dry overnight, I unclamped it all to find this:

You can actually see where the jaws of my clamps left some dirty marks on the cheeks and nose - fortunately these sanded away easily and didn't affect the finish.

Next post, I'll talk about attaching the legs and the muscle blocks.


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