Introduction: Children's Rocking Dinosaur
A simple and easy to make item for children 1.5yrs-4yrs old.
To make this you will need
Router with 1/2" round over bit
1x6 hardwood of your choice
Assorted brass wood screws
Disk and spindle sander
Random orbital sander
Step one is to create a pattern on hardboard or borrow the patterns from someone, I drew these off of another dino. Mine isn't quite the exact same but reasonably close. The hardboard pattern lets you make multiples at a later date. Use the Patterns to draw out each piece, here the rocker is being drawn out and you can see the pieces for the legs and body as well.
Per dino you'll need to trace and cut out
2 back legs
2 front legs
The dino is cut out of 2x8s, avoid as many knots as possible.
The base is made from 1x6 hardwood. The big box stores typically have maple or red oak, either will work fine, I use cherry or oak that I get from a local packing place that throws out hardwood pallets. You want to use hardwood for weight, the base can be heavier then the top if made of hardwood and therefore less prone to wear. The hardwoods will also wear slower meaning it will rock a long time before the bottom wears out. Finally thinner hardwood is just as stiff as thicker pine but looks smoother and classier while accomplishing the same task.
For the two cross pieces simply crosscut your 1x6 hardwood board at 12-14", doesn't have to be exact as long as the two boards are the same length, wider helps with stability but base it on the wood you have and what looks most pleasing to you.
Step 2: Time for the Bandsaw
Each piece will need to be cut out on the bandsaw. I used a 1/2" 3tpi (tooth per inch) blade. This has the downside of not making narrow curves like at the head or the end of the rockers but it is less prone to wander. Sloppy cutting with a narrower blade is quicker and easier if; a) you have good router table and you can use a flush trim bit to get the pieces perfect to the templates, or b) if you have a sanding disk and orbital sander you can sneak up on the lines. I have neither so cut carefully to save sanding later. On items like the legs or along the neck a little irregularity is fine as long as the wood is smooth. The flat of the body that the saddle sits on and the bottoms of the legs need to be truly flat. A couple quick passes with a hand plane will do this perfectly.
Step 3: Time to Hit the Router Table.
Once everything is cut out and sanded to the lines as best as possible you can head to the router table to round over the edges. The legs have only one side done. Best is to pair up the legs and then open them like a book and only route the side that ends up down. You can see in the pic the rear legs, the side that is about to be routed is opposite from the other leg.
Do not route the line between the front of the body and the back of the body, the bottoms of the feet, the flat of the rocker that the cross boards sit on, or the body where the seat goes.
The body is routed on both sides. From practice it is easier to glue the two halves of the body together then route it to avoid getting the wrong spots, note the areas in the pic of the body which are now rounded over. To glue the halves just lay them together on a flat surface, apply glue to one face, push them together and rub back and forth slightly to move the glue around. Once the glue is sufficiently spread there should be almost no glue line, just let it sit there for 24 hours. This is not a strong glue line so don't worry about clamping it as long as the two pieces are tight together an flat to each other.
Attach the legs next. Easiest is to have the body laying flat on a board so the clamps can reach underneath without disturbing anything. Then set them to roughly where you want them and lay a flat board on edge parallel to the body. This will let you align the legs to a flat surface, once aligned draw their outline on the body, apply glue and set the leg on. If you wiggle the leg around to smear the glue it will move less when you try to clamp. Make sure as you clamp that the legs don't shift from being flat to the board. There is no measuring here to bother with, make sure they look good in location on the body and are nicely spaced apart. It is important that the front leg has the body seam under the middle of it. The seam is the weak point of the whole thing but with a leg glued on each side will be held completely.
Once the first side has cured you can glue on the other set of legs. Use a flat table to make sure the whole thing sits square, once it does outline the legs as before, glue and clamp. Leave to sit.
Once done, drill a hole through the middle of the neck right below the head and run a dowel from the store through, I used a 1/2" dowel cut to 14" length. Just slide it through most of the way, apply some glue and finish pulling through with a slight twisting motion to spread the glue into the joint.
Step 5: Final Assembly
Should have had more pics here but got to anxious to finish. Fairly easy to go from here though.
The rockers and cross pieces were cut out and rounded with the body parts per the previous pics; simply glue the cross pieces to the flats on the rockers making sure they are aligned to each other. I used #8 brass wood screws and decorative washers to add a nice look; the glue is sufficient but I like the look. Before attaching the dino to the base spray the whole thing with polyurethane; I used 2 coats. With white oak or maple a stain to darken it will look nice, apply before spraying, with cherry spray and then stick outside in a bright sun for half the day, then flip over and leave out till dark. The direct sun will rapid age the cherry, unless you used a UV blocking poly, and make it closer to that dark red people like in aged cherry.
Spray the dino with green rustoleum, pretty straight forward and then screw the seat to the dino. I chose to stain the seat with a red oak stain first and no poly. I figure it will hold up fine and I liked the rustic look it gave the seat, sort of like a saddle. The seat is screwed down with 2 brass screws with washers.
Next use some deck screws and screw up through the base into the legs to attach it to the base. Glue here is useless; use about a 2" screw. It can be a little touch and go keeping it centered while screwing through the bottom so get some help.
Finally hand it to a very happy small child.
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