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Corral a horse for Christmas.

If you have already discovered the truth in the adage "it's more blessed to give than to receive," just wait until you give something made by your own two chisel-scarred, varnish-stained hands. You'll find even more satisfaction when, instead of the usual polite "That's nice" (only to have the store-bought thing shelved after a cursory examination), your child or grandchild joyously puts your handmade gift to use--and over the years lovingly wears it out and as lovingly puts his hand to rebuilding it.

You say the only thing you ever tried to make was a doghouse? And the dog left home the next day? Not to worry. Thanks to Peter Stevenson's Wood Toys and Dollhouses (Chilton Book Co., Radnor, PA 19087 205 pp., $15.95), you have the plans for constructing long-lasting toys from rough-and-ready materials that gain appeal with time. All you need for this labor of love is a one-quarter-inch electric drill, a hand-held circular saw and an electric saber saw, with maybe a little help from tools already in your kitchen drawer: hammer, pliers, screwdriver, chisel and wrench.

You'll need the wood, of course, to begin with, and the varnish or paints to add the final touch. But Stevenson generously supplies the accurate line work, a materials list and cutting and finishing techniques for all the 15 "old faithful" toys in his carefully illustrated book.

Although we lingered longest over the Dump Truck, the Steam Shovel, the Dollhouse and the Log Cabin, nostalgia finally led us to decide on the Jumping Horse. Mr. Stevenson warns that because the jumping horse, suspended on tension springs, is high-spirited, it should be used with adult supervision. But don't overdo it. Once you have proudly presented your handsome handmade gift to the lucky rider-to-be on Christmas morning, do get off and give the kid a chance. Kids catch on pretty quick nowadays.

Materials List 4'x4' ACX exterior-grade plywood panel, 3/4" thick 1' length of rough redwood 4x4 stock 8' length of rough redwood 2x2 stock 6" length of fir, cedar or redwood 2x6 stock Two 10' length of fir, cedar or redwood 1x3 stock 8' length of fir, cedar or redwood 1x3 stock 6" length of 1/2" dowel 9" length of 5/8" dowel 6" length of 7/8" dowel 3' length of 3/4" I.D. galvanized pipe Four 6" heavy-duty tension springs Four 4"x5/16" eyebolts, nuts and double washers One hundred 1-1/2" #8 flathead wood screws 30"x36" rectangle of plastic grass carpet 4' length of 3/4"-diameter hemp rope One pound of 3" galvanized box nails Roll of 3/4" plastic tape Dog leash 12"x12" square of dark-colored Naugahyde 12"x12" square of red felt 5/8" staples

The jumping horse is suspended on tension springs attached to the surrounding corral fence and provides lively jumping action for young children in a wide range of ages. However, because it is high-spirited, it should be used with adult supervision.

The body of the horse is made of three layers of 2"x6" redwood, cedar or pine (or any other medium soft-wood stock), with 3/4" plywood legs. The head is cut from a redwood 4x4.

Cutting and drilling

The corral: The first step in building the jumping horse is to cut the corral posts from rough redwood or cedar 2x2s. These can be sanded to prevent splintering, but use rough-cut stock to get the extra-large size of lumber. (Finished 2x2s will measure 1-1/2"x1-1/2" and are too small.) The rails and crosspieces can be cut from finished or rough 1"x3" stock (or split grape stakes with a crosssection size close to this size).

Cut the 30"x23" plywood base. (We used ACX for better weather protection.) Then cut three 20-1/2" posts and one 28-1/2" post from the 2x2 and trim the top ends to a blunt bevel with a crosscut saw. Drill 1/8" pilot holes through the base at the corners so that the bottoms of all four posts can be attached to the base 3/4" in from the long-side edges and flush with the end edges. Drive 3-1/2" nails up through the bottom of the base and into the end grain of the posts.

Drill pilot holes for the wood screws through the rails and crosspieces and screw them to the posts (fig. 1). Notch the crosspieces at the midpoint and bend them slightly so they can cross without being notched. Screw the two crosspieces together at the corner to add stability to the corral frame.

Next, drill with a 5/16" bit through the four posts in the positions shown, then insert a 5/16" eyebolt in each hole from the inside of the corral. Bolt them tight with a washer and lock nut and trim the bolt flush with the nut (filing the ends to round off). Drill a 1/2" hole through the "hitching post" as shown; then cut and insert a 6" length of 1/2" dowel. Sand all sharp corners and potential splinters at the edges with 80-grit, then 150-grit sandpaper. Apply two coats of satin-finish, exterior-grade varnish.

After varnishing, cut a 30"x36" rectangle of plastic grass carpet and notch to clear the posts (fig. 2). Wrap the edges of the grass carpet under the base and staple it in place with 5/8" staples. The top rail at the front of the corral (the hitching-post end) can be wrapped with alternating spirals of red and white plastic tape to provide the look of a competition jump. Hook the heavy-duty tension springs on to the eyebolts at the corner posts and use a pair of pliers to open the spring eyes. Use the pliers to crimp the spring and eyes after mounting to prevent the springs from becoming detached during a ride.

The horse: To build the horse, start by making the patterns for the front and hind legs and transfer them to the 3/4" plywood. Drill holes for the 1" pipe-hanger poles as shown in figures 3 and 4.

Make the pattern for the body and follow the dimensions in figures 5A and B. Transfer the pattern to the 2x6 and cut three of these pieces for the body. Select one piece to form the center layer, then mark the dotted lines showing the position of the neck at the center layer (5A). Mark the positions of the 1" holes for the pipe hangers and drill through all three layers with a 1"-diameter spade bit for the power drill. Next, mark the dotted cutoff lines on the center layer of the three body pieces and cut along them to provide a mounting slot for the next piece of 2x6.

Make the pattern for the neck piece and transfer it onto the remaining 2x6 stock (6). Then place the legs in position on the two outside body layers and mark the outlines onto the body parts. Nail and glue (driving pilot holes through the other layers, if needed, to prevent splitting) each side layer to the center body layer and to the neck piece. Align all parts flush at the top surface of the body (the jumper's back) and position the nails within the outlines of the legs so that the heads will be hidden when the legs are attached.

The next step is to cut the 18"x3/4" inside-diameter pipe hangers. Then drill 5/16"-diameter holes through one side of the pipe, the center of the holes spaced 1/2" in from each end of each pipe. Insert the pipes through the holes in the body, then slip the legs over the ends of the pipe and slide them up to the sides of the body. Screw or nail them in place with glue. Wrap the hanger pipes with 3/4" black plastic tape next to the sides of the jumper to a thickness of about 1/8" to prevent side slip.

Cut the head from a short length of rough redwood 4"x4" (Fig. 7). (Cedar or pine can be substituted and the head laminated from six layers of 1"x6" stock cut in profile, glued together, then trimmed to size from the top view.) The profile and top views can be cut with a handsaw and rounded with a Surform wood shaper or cut with a band saw. Cut the profile first, then the top outline. Finally, drill the ear, eye and nostril holes with wood spade bits to the diameters shown, about 3/4" deep.

The notch for the neck can be cut out, as shown, with a band saw or a hand saw. Use a chisel to cut down the front to remove the wood in the notch. Cut the 7/8"-diameter dowel ears and glue and screw them to the ear holes. Glue and slip down the slot at the back of the head onto the neck and drive screws in through pilot holes, as shown in Figure 7, to mount the head solidly on the neck. With the jumper body complete, use a Surform wood shaper to round off all sharp edges and remove splinters. Sand the body smooth with #80-grit, then 150-grit sandpaper, and either paint or varnish the horse and frame.

Make a bridle and reins from an inexpensive dog leash, as shown in Figure 8. To make a saddle, cut the shape shown in the grid pattern from Naugahyde; then cut another layer 1/4" larger all the way around from the red felt. Glue both layers in place with contact cement. Paint crossbars, hoofs, top of the ears, hanger springs and eyebolts semigloss black.

Drill 7/8"-diameter holes in the neck, rump and top of the head as shown in the patterns to provide anchor points for the mane and the tail. Cut a 9" or 10" length of tail and one end with black plastic tape and insert the ends into the holes. To hold the rope in place, angle and drive small finishing nails through it. After anchoring the rope, unravel and fluff it into a continuous mane; trim to length with scissors. Wrap the base of the tail with more tape to help it stand, then unravel the end and comb it out.

Assembly: To mount the jumper, bend the spring ends open enough to slip into the holes on the top sides of the hanger pipes. Close the eyes. Round all the metal parts with a file and tape the corners.
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes plans for building a wooden jumping horse
Author:Allen, Michael
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Dec 1, 1984
Previous Article:The Christmas story.
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