Why buy new toys when you can build them? The traditional rocking horse is a childhood favorite and a great challenge for woodworkers. It requires attention to detail, imagination and a keen eye for measuring and cutting to length. If you have the time and patience, you can have a little one rocking on your design in no time.
The horse body
Your project will start by designing and cutting out the body of the horse. The choice of wood is entirely up to you. Draw the horse on a flat piece of wood. Keep in mind the height of the child who will be using the horse. After you've traced the horse, you can use a hand saw or a band saw to cut it out. Sand the horse down and attach it to front and back cross supports. The front and back supports will run parallel to each other. Cut out a groove in the middle of each support and make sure the horse fits in the supports. Use wood glue and screws to secure the horse into the supports.
Now you will cut out what are called tenons. Measure the distance from the front support and the back support on each side. You will measure out a 90-degree angle on each side of the supports. Cut out a portion of the support, about 3/4 inches at a 92 degree angle. With this done on each side, these tenons will slide into the rockers.
Use a pencil and map out the size of your rockers on a piece of wood. Make sure each side is the same exact length and has the exact same shape. Cut them out with a saw or band saw. Next, cut out a square on the front and rear of each rocker so that the tenons will slide into the rocker. Now glue the rockers to the cross supports.
If you don't want the child's feet dangling, think about installing running boards. These boards will go on each side of the horse and run on top of the rockers. Cut them to length on each side, glue to the top of the rockers with a wood glue and then nail or screw in to place.
The final touches include the saddle and the handle. Carve out a saddle that will fit on top of the horse and is comfortable for the child. Install it to the top of the horse with wood glue and drill in two dowels.
For the handle, cut out a small hole in the top of the horse head and slide through a handle. Glue it in place.
You can finish up the project by staining the horse or painting it to the color of your choice.