Introduction: Rocking Drakkar

About: I made a beer mug with only a knife and a hatchet. I think that says a lot about me.

Being a godfather is far from easy.

For his first birthday I wanted to offer my little friend something special. Something he would remember the rest of his life. Something he would yet talk about proudly in his ol' days.

So I proposed proudly a survival trip to northern Finland.

Too bad his parents didn't agree, neither did the rest of the family.

I'll keep the idea in mind, anyway.

So I thought in a life way about a car size trebuchet. Launching potatoes - or other children of the kindergarten - is great fun, and I thought him to be too young to exercise with dangerous propane powered potato guns. For all, I'm a responsible godfather.

Again, his parents wouldn't give me the green light. Yet another idea to keep in mind.

I started wondering why they designed me as godfather of their child while apparently they weren't sharing my visions of life, death & growing up in the urban jungle.

This made me incredibly sad.

So I started drinking.

After quite a few beers I understood that maybe all those good people tried to make me understand that it would be better to come up with something more 'childish', to take some distance from what I wanted him to want and to go towards what he might want.

Good ideas are often born in beer. So I continued thinking.

'What about a rocking horse?' a smooth voice in my mind whispered between number fourteen & fifteen. Or between number elve & twelve. Whatever, somewhere under number twenty.

A rocking horse? 'Everybody listen to me, I'm gonna build a mighty Troyan Rocking Horse!' I yelled.

So the morning after I knocked on the door of my friends house and proposed loudly, but friendly, my project. 'Gonna build a roggin' horz!!!'

They gave me coffee, and called me a real hero and a true saver of the nation.

Or, that's what I remember they told me.

Two mornings later, I realized that rocking horses are, let's say, quite bored - even Troyan rocking horses. Those toys already exist from the era people started to domesticate hors-like animals, which is quite a few decades far.

Time for an upgrade.

'What about a rocking Sherman tank?' I counterproposed.

They called it 'too war-ish'. They wanted that horse.

'Or a rocking wrecking ball?'

They called it 'too mileysh'. They still wanted that boring horse.

Ignoring their desperateness I decided to do it my way, anyway. No matter what, no matter nothing. I know best what would be good for that little boy, and since he is always been 'my little viking' I finally ended up with the coolest rocking something ever.

I was going to build a Badass Rocking Drakkar.

Too bad with all this thinking and argueing I lost a lot of time, and so I missed his first birthday gloriously.

That was six months ago...

Ready to celebrate his 1.55th birthday, yay!

Step 1: My Drakkar on the Wall

I never built a drakkar before. Not a big one, not a small one - even I'm dreaming a lot of building a big one. Whatever, since I like the way of 'experimental building' I decided to build the sides of the boat first, and to think about the rest later.

So after a few designs - beer bar toilet walls are great dispositifs to set your creativity free - I transferred the design on a board. Suzanne Vega. Forever.

How I choose the dimensions? I didn't. I just managed - try & error - to cut it all from a single 22mm marine plywood board (1.25m x 2.5m). Cost: 50$.

'As big as possible' is always been a great theme to me. Those beer bars, again.

Whatever. Once I had the sides cut - a jigsaw works fine - I started thinking about the chair and after some experiments - beer, try & error - the concept became finally clear. Out of the mist of my troubled mind sailed a vision of a kind of crossover between a throne and a drakkar.

So far the details.

  • to build this your own, all you need to do is copy & cut (the red version is a bit less childish, but a lot more viking-ish)
  • a jigsaw can be helpful
  • every piece on the page is scaled
  • squares in the pics: 10cm x 10cm
  • to get the two dragons nicely identic: clamp them together and sand, file, hack or burn. No rules.

If you have a laser cutter: good for you.

When you print this on A4-format and copy it that way on thin plywood or veneer, you can build a cool nano-version. Just for fun. Or as a cell-phone stand. Or a beer holder. No need to have kids to have some fun with this. Hah!

Step 2: Min Drakkar Är Större Än Din

When the cutting's done, you should have following list.

    • two side panels - those with the dragon head and dragon tail
    • one back panel (chair a) - that with the 'V'. If the ones name you're building it for doesn't start with a 'V' you should choose another symbol. 'A' for Amy, 'B' for Brian, 'C' for Carl, 'D' for Donut - that kind of logic
    • one bud panel (chair b)
    • one leg panel (chair c)
    • one feet panel (chair d)
    • two 15cm x 15cm auxiliary panels
    • two 20cm x 20cm auxiliary panels
    • two 'prow' panels (those with the hole)
    • one table panel (no table)
    • one rack panel (rack)

          In the following steps I'll discuss all parts seperately.

          You have a laser cutter? You told me, already. Good for you.

          Step 3: Side Panel Setup

          First thing I did when I got those side panels was routering the edges.

          In fact, I didn't. The very first thing I did when the side panels were freshly cut was adding a fine (4mm) cleath to the rocking side. Nails & glue, just perfect. This cleath will act as a kind of 'sole' for the whole structure, and will more resist to rocking use than the plywood border. Craftmanship is in the detail.

          Then came the routering of all edges (not the rocking edge).

          I wanted the whole thing to be demountable - I'm a bad person, but not thàt bad that I would deliver this thing solid as a rock. In fact, the only reason I made it 'ikea style' is that it otherwise wasn't going to fit in my car. Pure egoism, no more no less.

          The side panels are bolted to the chair with the help of 'hidden bolt heads' (see pics) - you don't want to see those heads on the sides of the drakkar, don't you?


          • you need 4 carriage bolts (10mm)
          • clamp the small square on the large square (northwest angles joined)
          • drill a hole of 10 mm all the way through, starting in the middle of the small square
          • repeat for the other duo
          • drill some place for the bolt head with a paddle drill in the small square
          • repeat for the other one
          • insert bolt, and screw-glue the bolted squares to each side panel
          • place them exactly in the center since the chair will be centered

          The other added stuff you'll see on these panels are guides for the table and the rack. Don't fix that stuff before you make the rest. Better build the rest first, and fix those guides when everything's in place.

          Step 4: The Captain's Chair

          You've got 4+2 panels to put together.

          Put them together. Sunken screws & glue.

          Do you prefer lazer cut 'teeth'? Go ahead.

          Do you prefer wooden plugs? Go ahead.

          The only things that count: a correct angle between seat & back (100°) and a result that will resist a rocking captain.

          Note: the two squares are slightly (the thickness of the board aka 22mm) fixed inward.

          Step 5: The Captains Table

          The captains table is more then just a 'table'.

          In fact it isn't a table at all.

          Like I already told, this drakkar is a prototype, which means that it's the only one of its kind - untill there's no 'I made it'-button.

          Also prototypes need safety. The idea behind this table-that-isn't-a-table is that your captain may not rock forward while rocking. Contrary to a rocking horse he won't smash his head against the horses head, which is great, but instead there's a hughe risk of getting rocked all over the place. He will get a real rocking experience, but after all we don't want our captains to get hurt.

          This problem could have been solved by fixing him or her to the chair - aka tearing him backward, belts & that stuff, car-style - or by avoiding him to move forward.

          I choose the second option. No belts, no clips, but a prow-like structure between the captains legs AND a handle-bar.

          Free-hands rocking? There's always the prow, bolted to the chair.


            • plug-glue two pieces of solid wood to the long sides of the table panel & round the edges
            • glue the two parts of the prow together (to get more surface to glue the table)
            • round the edges
            • plug-glue the table to the prow
            • clamp the prow to the chair
            • drill two holes (6mm) from the back of the chair into the prow
            • use lag bolts (8mm) and washers to get both together
            • no glue - the keyword is 'demountable'

            Why the table ain't a table?

            Because with the prow between his little legs your little captain will never be able to reach the table comfortably.

            You'll see.

            Step 6: The Captains Rack

            The idea behind the rack - the only item you can freely put or remove from the boat - is that in case the structure isn't correctly balanced, you might need to add some weight. Or in the front, or in the back.

            Since the dragon has definitely more weight in the front and I didn't want to place the chair off center, this rack was build as a support to fix ballast.


            • plug-glue two pieces of solid wood to the long sides of the panel (only for esthetic reasons)
            • round the edges
            • fix two fine cleaths to the side panels to serve as a rail for the rack
            • bolt as many metal as needed to the rack to get the whole thing nicely balanced

            Step 7: Ikea the Whole Thing Together

            Four nuts, four washers, two bolts & an army of cats.

            Step 8: Paint Will Flow

            Once all the cutting, routering, drilling, adjusting & assembling's done, you'll have to demount the whole once more to paint the five pieces seperately.

            After the first layers of paint, I highlighted the plank design on the side panels with the dremel. Two layers of paint more and the job was finally done. Only the eyes were paint in a different color.

            If ever you should decide to build it all from solid wood, you can router those features and fill the grooves with darker wood paste. The result will be awesome, just like the sample on the pics.

            Somehow I regret I used plywood for this build... Next version!

            Step 9: Rock Da Drakka'

            When the last paint drop has dried and the last bolt has been fixed, it's time to rock!


            • make some place in the middle of the room
            • invite the captain to have a seat
            • make sure he hasn't eaten too much the hours - or days - before the ride
            • read the safety instructions loud 'n clear & show the emergency exits
            • let him rock wildly

            Hope you enjoyed it, and show me your builds!

            Step 10: Two Drakkars Is a Fleet

            Thinking of all these drakkers you guys are certainly going to build, I thought it would be awesome to join them all together in a giant drakkar fleet.

            So get workshoppin', send me your awesomest pics and I'll drop them in the fleet!

            Where we go? Everywhere!

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