Eyes and Tail

It's been over nine months since I last updated this blog, so I must apologise for keeping you all waiting so long; but now, the story continues...

Before moving on to finishing, I next drilled the holes necessary for the horse's eyes and tail. The kit comes supplied with two glass eyes attached to either end of a short length of wire - snip the wire to separate the two eyes. They're about 18mm (3/4") in diameter and the instructions suggest drilling holes to mount them, using wood filler as glue, without providing much detail. I pondered this for a while, but here's how I did it...

The location for the eyes is easy to find, as it's where a dowel comes right through the head to hold the two halves together. At this stage the ends of the dowel should have been cut off and sanded down flush with the rest of the head, but they're still easy to see:
The end of the dowel marks the eye location

I started by drilling a small pilot hole, maybe 4mm or so, right into the centre of the dowel, with the drill perpendicular to the surface of the wood. I then followed that up with a 22mm spade bit; the spade bit should stay centred on the pilot hole, and you can just carefully allow the bit to scrape away 2 or 3mm of wood until you have a shallow recess for the eye to sit in, as shown here:

Eye socket recess created with a 22mm spade bit

I'm sure there are many ways to do this, and something like a Forstner bit would probably do a cleaner, easier job, but they're expensive to buy just for a single job.

The hole for the tail is just a little trickier. The horse's tail will be formed from a short piece of horse hide rolled into a tube and wedged into place in a hole in the horse's rump. There is a leather strap thing (I'm sure there is a technical term for it that I don't know) that runs from the back of the saddle to go around the tail, so to find the right place to drill the hole, you'll need to saddle up your horse and mark where the leather strap thing falls. I then just drilled straight through with the same 22mm spade bit to create the hole where the tail would eventually be fitted. In hindsight there are probably better ways to have done this, and creating a tapered hole might have made things easier when fitting the tail. But, the tail went in ok anyway so this wasn't a big problem. The tail hole looks like this:

Tail hole drilled, and some filler applied

As a final step before applying any dye or paint, check over the body of the horse for any voids. It's normal for the edges of plywood to have occasional voids where a small piece of one ply has chipped out, or possibly where two pieces of a single ply never quite met properly when the plywood sheet was manufactured. I had maybe six or seven of these that were quite noticeable, so I filled them with some dark wood filler, let it dry and then sanded smooth. You can see a few of these on the horse's rump above, and there were a few gaps round the leg joints as well, which I filled in the same way:

Filler applied to leg joint; another void to be filled at top left

The horse and stand are now ready for finishing!


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