First Rocking Horse

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Project by Milton Toal posted 09-25-2012 10:09 AM 8844 views 5 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My wife had bought me a book on making rocking horses many years ago. Big hint? Ignored it, too many other interests. Loaned it to a cousin. He took a course, built a horse and returned the book. I had a heap of 30+ y.o. oregon construction timber racked up under the roof of the car-port. Dressed it and started “Willow” as my wife decided to call “her”. Here is her story from pattern to complete. Hope you enjoy it. I also made the saddle from scratch. Separate story which I shall share later. More than happy to share info on sourcing “parts”.

-- Milton Toal, Doncaster, Melbourne Australia.

20 comments so far

View Zinderin's profile


94 posts in 2668 days

#1 posted 09-25-2012 11:32 AM

Oh my Lord!!! Now that is a rocking horse!!!! Holy-Mole!!!

I want to build one!!! Hell, I bet you could sell those for big bucks! That’s a carousel horse!

How many hours did it take?

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2828 days

#2 posted 09-25-2012 11:43 AM

That is not only a Rocking Horse, that is a piece of art and heirloom for future generations. Outstanding job, congratulations on a great project.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 2737 days

#3 posted 09-25-2012 11:51 AM

Amazing, The smile on her face,says it all…..........

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2611 days

#4 posted 09-25-2012 12:13 PM

Truly beautiful! It puts those plastic and spring ones to shame. She’s a lucky little girl!

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3773 days

#5 posted 09-25-2012 12:29 PM

That’s an absolutely beautiful rocking horse! I ordered the catalog from the Rocking Horse Shop, but I’ve not ordered the plans yet. I’d like to build the large laminated horse. Instead of plywood, I’d make the horse from 1” thick wild cherry boards that were joined to make large size sheets to cut out the parts. I bet the horse would look beautiful!

-- Hal, Tennessee

View emtwoodworker's profile


53 posts in 4031 days

#6 posted 09-25-2012 02:02 PM

That looks really great. Where did you get the hardware and accessories?

View a1Jim's profile


117745 posts in 4113 days

#7 posted 09-25-2012 02:20 PM

That’s amazing a big thumbs up.

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 2879 days

#8 posted 09-25-2012 07:34 PM

makes my rocking horses look like childs play

View DaveConry's profile


66 posts in 4233 days

#9 posted 09-25-2012 07:38 PM

Wow! That is amazing. Thanks for sharing it with us.

-- Evil can only thrive when good men do nothing.......E. Burke

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3402 days

#10 posted 09-25-2012 07:48 PM

That’s really nice, Milton. It really looks like she loves it so congratulations for a job well done.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 2726 days

#11 posted 09-25-2012 11:22 PM

excellent job,the reward is in her beautiful smile.thanks for sharing

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3226 days

#12 posted 09-26-2012 12:34 AM

You did an absolutely outstanding job on this pony! You even got the dappled grey color just right. I hope my family doesn’t see this as I don’t have the skill set to build this.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Milton Toal's profile

Milton Toal

107 posts in 2607 days

#13 posted 09-26-2012 02:02 AM

Thanks everyone. Your feedback is really appreciated.

Zinderin, If I am to be totally honest, time for dressing timber, making templates, sourcing hardware, leather etc would probably exceed 100 hours. I can certainly count 80. Learning curve was steep, though and using chisels and gouges was not the best way to go. Read on for where I went, part way through to speed up the job and make it easier. Next horse will be maybe only half that when I get her finished soon. Have been distracted by a humanitarian visit to Borneo by an older granddaughter needing help with funding so I made some cute trivets on the scroll saw for her to sell. Back to the horse next week.

I looked at it for weeks when it was notionally ready to tape and gesso. My critical eye was telling me something was NQR. Then it hit me that there were no inside leg muscles. They don’t traditionally have them. Could not hack that so designed them for back and front legs. Having carved underneath it was a dreadful job to carve muscles to fit so I used Meranti which is easy to work and since there was no structural load.

The grey was from a spray can, so very easy, just took a few visits to paint stores and hardware warehouses to find it and it is exactly right. The dappling was done by hand-cutting a scrubbing sponge then spreading the paint on a sheet of glass and touching the sponge at different pressures to create different density of colour.

I have an excel spreadsheet of hardware sources including stand legs because I did not have a lathe then and when I learn how to communicate properly on this site I will share it with anyone who wants it.

The original plans are from the Rocking Horse Shop and so is some of the hardware. The swing irons I got a local horse-maker to make for me. The next horse is a blanket appaloosa which another granddaughter is laying claim to as “the most beautiful horse ever”. How to push Pa’s buttons 101 by a 4 yo.

Carving inside the nostrils and eye sockets is a Dremel job and not that hard. A lot of the stock is easily removed with an angle grinder fitted with a rubber backing pad and sanding disks or a rotary rasp piece. Take care though that it cuts like blazes.

I would encourage anyone to tackle this as it is not hard if you have a good eye. gfadvm, I had done no carving before I took this on so believe me you can do it. Next horse is a fully carved carousel horse which I shall start before Christmas but I want to finish the appaloosa and try my hand at Intarsia first.

Regards all.


-- Milton Toal, Doncaster, Melbourne Australia.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3226 days

#14 posted 09-26-2012 02:09 AM

Milton, You obviously inherited the ‘artistic gene’ that I am missing! Can’t wait to see the carosel horse.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Grandpa's profile


3263 posts in 3211 days

#15 posted 09-26-2012 02:12 AM

Beautiful!! that just sums it up. Don’t go overboard now!!

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