Introduction: Rocking Elephant

Picture of Rocking Elephant

This baby Elephant rocker was made as a present for my nephew.

I didn't think about making an instructable of this at first. But in the end there was quite a lot of interest so I decided to give it a go. I hope this instructable will deliver some fun.

The main materials you'll need;

  • 18mm plywood 0,8m2
    oil or paint +/- 0,5 L
    40 cm sisal rope (diameter 8-10mm)

  • wood glue
    sanding paper

  • jig- or band- saw
    a router (optional)
    a drill
    pencil and paper (or a projector or laser cutter)

Step 1: Make It Your Own

Picture of Make It Your Own

I'm not the first in the world who wanted to make an elephant rocker.
I collected some inspiration and information on the internet and gave it my own twist.

To be fair in the end I have taken a good look at the instruction found at the following website.

I combined it with the some other models that I liked and made my own version.

Most of them gave me some good references when I was in doubt of the height of the seat or some other ergonomic points.

Step 2: Small Steps

Picture of Small Steps

Before making things big and risk making big mistakes I scaled things down.

For the big Elephant I was going to use 18mm plywood.

By scaling it down I was able to make a prototype of the model with a laser cutter.

Keep this trick in mind before just copying a design. (if you have the option)

It gave me some insights and opened some fun discussions on the design of toy's.

Ergonomics & risk of damaging kid, floor, room or elephant.

Step 3: Digital World to Real World

Picture of Digital World to Real World

I used a laser cutter to engrave the cutting lines on the sheets of plywood.

I understand that this is not available for everyone.
These are some suggestions for a work around;

  • Print the elephant on smaller paper and glue or tape the sheets together.
    Cut this mould and copy it on the wood. You can also use carbon paper.
  • Print the elephant on squared paper and scale it to any size you want on the wood.
  • Project the pieces with a projector on your plywood.

    (in the pdf you can find a scale bar for reference)

Step 4: Machining the Wood

Picture of Machining the Wood

Once you have drawn the parts on the wood you can start cutting the pieces. I've used a band-saw but you could also think of a jigsaw power tool. If you stay clear of the lines you can refine your work afterwards by hand with a file & sanding paper/machine.

Let's take a look at all the parts;

Part A;

There's also a risk of chipping once you're drilling the eye. To prevent this just make a small hole to guide the large drill. And drill the eye halfway through form both sides. If any material will break out it will happen at a place where you don't notice it.

Measure your dowel and rope and decide what type of drill you need.
I've drilled the holes in the next step.

Parts B&C;

Nothing special about the legs except for part C.
You need to file the top of the legs because the seat F needs to rest on it.

You can after the first assembly of the elephant

Parts D;

To make sure your elephant rock's smoothly connect the material for the two rockers with some screws.
Process these two elements connected to each other as long as possible.

Part E;

Give the saddle a bit more rounding's. I didn't keep it flat on the top side so it was a bit more comfortable.
I can imagine that you even want to coat the seat with some nice fabric but that's for the next person to try.

Part F;
The ears have some handles. You can predrill the corners and make a center hole so your jigsaw doesn't have to do all the corner stuff.

To keep in mind;

I learned that you need to know at this stage what finishing technique you're going to use.

If you are just oiling the elephant you can keep the slits at a close fit but if you're going to paint it keep every slit a bit wider.


To prevent chipping of the wood you can put masking tape all around the edges.
Or you can round all the edges with a minimal radius of 2 mm for this you could use a router.

Finally you unscrew the two rockers and cut away the slits for the elephant to fit in.

If you have the options available you could even think of cutting a big mould out of of thin plywood or pmma which you can follow with a router for a perfect finish.

Step 5: Finishing

Picture of Finishing

Sand all the pieces and take a look if everything fits nicely.

You can now easily mark the place for hole to put the dowel.
(be careful not to cut through the seat)

Also make the hole for the tail.
The size of the holes depends on the chosen rope and dowel.

As one of the last steps give all the edges a smooth round finish.
So playing with it doesn't cause any chipping of the plywood.

Mounting the rockers isn't the best plan at this stage because there's quite a bit of force involved.

But as you can see I didn't have enough patience.

Step 6: Painting

Picture of Painting

Now start painting and let everything dry long enough before mounting everything.

If your paint is to soft you can scratch it easily in the process of assembling.

That's why you need to take your time and wait at least 2 days.

Personally I was in doubt at this stage. I wanted to oil the elephant but thinking about child toys...
So I used a colourful indoor wood finish. I'm happy about the green but the gray was not my favourite. It didn't cover the wood good enough.

Step 7: Assembling

Assembling the elephant will take some force at some points.

If you're going to use a hammer put a block of (soft) wood between your hammer and the elephant to spread the pressure.

Mount the elephant and carefully put some wood glue in all the slits.
In principle only the ears need some glue to stay in place.
(Clean all the residue with some water.)

To mount the elephant on the rockers, put the front legs in the slits and put (a lot of) gentle force on the hind legs to make it all fit. You may use some ugly words but if everything fits together you don't need to be afraid that it will fall apart.

Step 8: Tail

Picture of Tail

The last part missing; the tail.

For the tail I used a piece of 3 twine sisal rope.
Which you can end with a knot called a single Matthew Walker.

(source knot image; text-book of seamanship 1891)

To fix the tail you can use wood glue.
By slowly rotating the rope in the hole you can fix the tail under a bit of pressure.

(I can imagine the tail is the weakest point once the elephant is carried around the room. Let's call this a learning point for my nephew.)

Step 9: Keep on Rocking.

So this elephant is made for my nephew.

He's still too young to rock this beast so I gave it a try myself.

By now I can guarantee rocking fun for persons up to 80kg (at least).

Have fun and don't forget to give it a twist of your own!


(Hopefully I can soon post a picture of this elephant in use)


blazarine (author)2017-11-16

Do you have a downloadable template to scale that can be printed?

JMesman (author)blazarine2017-11-23

Not directly I'll need to make one for you if needed. I'll have a look at it.

noodlez914 (author)2016-07-07

Is glue the only thing holding this together?

Julienne N (author)2016-03-26

I like that elephant rocker...I wish I had a laser cutter, and could use it.

JMesman (author)Julienne N2016-03-27

There are work arounds for the use of the lasercutter in this build. For example make a print on paper, cut it out and trace the shape with a pencil. In this build the laser is only used for a quick scale model and a easy way of marking the wood.

MarkF30 (author)2016-03-05

Terrific, I hope that you named and dated it so it can become a family heirloom.

JMesman (author)MarkF302016-03-06

a lesson learned. I was in doubt but I didn't thought about the value a
family heirloom. Maybe I have to kidnap an elephant in the coming weeks :P

horywood (author)2016-03-06

I am Micho Ohori from Japan.

It felt wonderful to look at your work . So I made a Rocking Elephant using your PDF, please be approved because I think and want to sell to a friend .

JMesman (author)horywood2016-03-06

I’m very
pleased to hear that I was able to inspire you. That’s a big compliment.

You got my approval as long as you keep your friendship in mind.

I would be pleased if you want to share the result with us.

arpruss (author)2016-02-23

That's lovely!

SanBernardino Locksmith (author)2016-02-22

great success

philster25 (author)2016-02-22

I really like the simple but elegant design you've come up with. Sturdy, cute, fun!

seamster (author)2016-02-22

Fantastic, I really like your take on this!

I'm sure your nephew will love his elephant rocker. Very nicely done all around! :)

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