After Gilly The Giraffe went down well with my customer who had commissioned me to make it, I was then asked to make another one for her soon to be born niece.
I was told "It's got to be a Hippo with a bird in it's mouth with a toothbrush cleaning it's teeth". To this day I don't fully understand where this association comes from but we shall see.
Henry the Hippo is more complicated than my previous rocking animal and has a bigger cutting list to match.
Step 1: Tools You Will Need
Heavy Duty Bandsaw, with a cutting depth of at least 8" for shaping the head (but you could also use a jigsaw and shape the head by hand using a mallet and chisel)
Angle Grinder - With 80 grit and 120 sanding disc
Lathe (for turning the teeth, but you could use a small hand plane instead for shaping the points)
Mallet and Carving Chisels
Bench Drill with 20mm Forstner Drill Bit
Dremmel or Foredom with suitable wood burr (I used 1" saburr wood burrs on my foredom)
F Clamps (heavy duty ones with quite wide openings) - You will need lots of these
Work Mate or Outside workbench to work on
Dust mask and Face Protection
Hot Glue Gun
Hand Brace with Auger Bits
Big Bottle Of PVA
Step 2: Cutting List and Templates
I wanted Henry to follow the same rules as Gilly the Giraffe did. To use up as much scraps of wood we had knocking about our workshop. As a result the woods I used are very mixed in both size and species. I felt that the species wouldn't matter so much this time round as the whole animal was to be painted grey anyway in the end.
The templates are shown above and need to be scaled up by 375% in order to achieve full size.
9 x 1 Tulip For the Sides
6 x 2 Redwood (For The Back, plus extra which needs to be ripped down for filler pieces for the rest of the body)
9 x 1 Tulip for the sides of the head (I used as much of the offcuts from cutting the body out as possible)
8 x 3 hardwood for the top of the head, this has to be a sizeable lump of wood as its the bit that will be most carved in order to achieve the head's contours.
6 x 2 Redwood for the front and back of the head (I used the left over wood from the back for this)
Snout 9 x 1 Tulip (Again using offcuts from the body) DO NOT DRILL THE NOSTRIL UNTIL FITTED AS ITS ONLY ON THE CUTTING LIST FOR DEMONSTRATION PURPOSES
9 x 1 Tulip For the Sides (again using offcuts from the body)
4x2 Sapele for the width of the Jaw (this is what I had to hand but you could use redwood or oak instead)
3 x 2 Redwood for the Tongue
6 x 2 Pine for the Front Legs
6 x 2 Lime for the Back Legs
2 x Rolling Pins (Ideally made from Beech)
Off cut of 9 x 1 Tulip used throughout the rest of the project
1 metre of 3 x 2 Redwood/Pine for the Rocker's Struts
A 4' length of 10" x 2" thick Ash for the Rockers (any hardwood would do - soft wood will probably not take the strain as well)
100g Ball Of Black Wool
Tub Of Wood Filler
2 x M6 Bolts, Washers and Nuts
8mm x 40mm Dowel Pegs
Grey for the body, white for the teeth and pink for the tongue
Flossie The Bird and Toothbrush
Plasticine for modelling
4 x 4 block of lime for carving
10" length of 1/4" dowel for legs
3 Ice cream lolly sticks
Step 3: The Body
The body is basically built like a hollow box. The underside of the body is left open. I saw trying to fill this in as a waste of wood, where it won't be seen and would provide even more weight.
Cutting Out The Pieces.
Firstly we need to cut out the pieces. We need two side pieces for the body. I used some 9 x 1 tulip for this, which was planed flat, but you can use pretty much any would for this as long as it's 9 x 1 and flat. The top of the body need to be kept flat as this will come in contact with the back (which can be seen in the second photo)
The back is made from a length of 6 x 2. I used redwood for this but you could use any good quality hardwood or softwood for this part, as long as it 6 x 2 in size and is square. This was then cut to the length of the body, adding a little bit of overhang on each end to allow for the carving process at a later stage.
Assembling The Sides To The Back.
The back needs to have 4 pilot holes drilled into the top of the back on each side. This will allow for the screws to go through the back and into the side pieces of Henry. I added a bit of glue before doing this. I would also recommend having the screws about 5 mm below the surface of the back so these will not stick out during the carving process later on.
Adding The Front And The Back Of The Body
Now measure the internal gap between the two side pieces and using your off cut from the back rip this piece down to that measurement. We want the grain running from the top to the bottom of the body as this will be carved away later on. Glue these pieces in place and then apply clamps to hold in place. Leave this to dry overnight.
(I found the void in the body a handy place to keep all the offcuts I had left over from cutting out the body to hand for use at the later stages of the build)
Carving the Body
Once the glue has dried it's time to remove the excess wood. For this I used first my band saw to remove the bulk of the wood although you could use a handsaw for this part instead (see 4th Photo). I then levelled the blocks at the front and back flush with the sides using my angle grinder with an 80 grit sanding wheel and then shaped the edges of the the side of the body. It's important at this stage to not touch the back (which will be the seat) as this will need to be shaped later once the legs are in place.
Step 4: The Head - Part 1
Again the head is also built like a hollow box with the underside of the head left open.
I had decided at this point that I wanted Henry's head to open and close on a pivot and this is why the head is made in two parts. I also saw it as the most economical way of using the wood and off cuts I had at hand.
Cutting Out The Side Pieces.
Firstly we need to cut out the pieces. We need two side pieces for the top of the head. I used some of the leftover 9 x 1 tulip for this, which was leftover from the cutting out of the body.
The Top Of The Head
The top of the head is made from a large piece of 8 x 3 oak block we had knocking around the workshop for years. This piece was water damaged but still stable enough to use. You could use any wood for this part as long as it is this size and the grain runs perpendicular between the two sides of the head. It does sound like a massive piece to have for just the top of the head but this piece will also be the part that will have the most carving done to it and so it makes sense for it to be a sizeable piece. This piece was then glued between the two sides and held in place with two large F Clamps. It's important at this stage to have the block of Oak sitting just above the profile of the side of the head (see diagram) again this is for carving purposes later on. Leave this to dry overnight
The Front and Back Of The Head
This next day using offcuts of 6 x 2 from the back of the body, cut this to the internal width of the gap between the two sides of the head. Glue these in place and again hold in place with F Clamps and leave to dry overnight.
Carving The Head Stage 1
Cut away the excess wood at the front and back of the head, either using a bandsaw, handsaw or chisels. Afterwards the Head can now be carved for it's first stage. Rather than doing it in one go I found it easier to do this in several stages as certain bits are difficult to get to once the snout is added. Again using a angle grinder with an 80 grit sanding disk we want to carve away the dip in the head, between the nose and where the eyes (see last photo)
Step 5: The Lower Jaw Part 1
Now we need to repeat the same process for the lower jaw.
Cutting Out The Side Pieces.
First cut out the two side pieces that will make the side of the jaw. Again I used some of the leftover 9 x 1 tulip for this, which was leftover from the cutting out of the body.
The Bottom Of The Jaw
The bottom of the jaw (underside of the head) is made from a large piece of 3 x 2 sapele block we had knocking around the workshop for years. Again you could use any wood for this part as long as it is this size and the grain runs parallel with the two sides of the jaw we have just cut out. The block then needs to be ripped down to a particular width in order for the jaw to be able to fit underneath the head. What I did was measure the internal width of the inside of the top of the head and then subtracted the thickness of the two sides of the jaw. This will be different for every person taking this project on so needs to be worked out carefully. Hopefully my diagram will explain things a bit better.
The Front Of The Jaw
Using the same measurement of the width of the block cut a second piece for the front. This piece of wood needs to have its grain running with the width of the jaw, rather than the length. The height is the gap between the block of wood being used as the bottom of the jaw and the top of the profile of the front of the side pieces.
Gluing Up The Jaw
The blocks are then glued between the two sides and held in place with two large F Clamps. It's important at this stage to have the block sitting flush with the bottom of the jaw profile. Leave this to dry overnight
Trimming The Excess
The next day, remove the clamps and begin to shape the lower part of the jaw. It's important to trim the blocks down to the profile of the side pieces as these are your guides to the jaw's overall shape. I used my bandsaw to trim off the excess here.
Carving The Front Of The Front Of Jaw
Using my angles grinder with its sanding discs I shaped the front of the jaw to a gentle curve. You do not need to worry about carving the inside of the jaw as this will need to be square in order to hold the tongue in place. Round off the outside edges lightly of the rest of the jaw with the grinder.
Step 6: Fitting the Head to the Lower Jaw
Now it's time to dry fit the two pieces together. The head should now fit over the top of the lower jaw. This may be a slightly tighter fit than you may like so you may need to do a bit of sanding first.
Deciding Where To Put The Pivot
Once you are happy that the two pieces are a good fit now its time to fit the bolts that will act as a pivot for Henry's jaw. I wanted his jaw open most of the time and so when deciding where to have the pivot I had his jaw open on the bench and then mark a hole as to roughly where I thought the hole should be. Then mark on the opposite side and drill through both and drill a pilot hole. I used a cordless drill with a 4mm bit, this would allow for a 4mm screw.
I then took the jaw and screwed the wood screw into various positions until I was happy with the movement. I then drilled a pilot hole through the sides of the jaw where the screw had made its mark to allow for the bolt to run all the way through both head and jaw.
Dry Fitting The Bolts And Counterboring
Assemble the pieces and slot the bolt in, without the nut and try the movement. Once you are happy with the jaws movement, remove the bolts and create a counter bore for the head of the bolt as this will be filled at a later date.
Assemble the head to the jaw fully now but you may need to remove the jaw from the head soon to help fit the teeth in place.
Step 7: The Lower Jaw Part 2 - the Tongue
The tongue is made from a piece of scrap redwood 3 x 2 I had knocking around the workshop. The width was then ripped down to the internal width of the jaw where the tongue will sit. This was cut to slightly longer than the jaw for handling purposes.
I wanted to have a bend in my tongue as I imagined Henry's mouth would be open much of the time but this is up to the maker to decide as this is purely optional. A curve was drawn along the length of the wood on one side and then cut on my bandsaw. This is where having that extra length at the end comes in handy as you can hold the wood while keeping your hands free of the blade of the bandsaw.
Next the curve was drawn for the tip of the tongue and then cut on my bandsaw (you can see I've drawn the outline of the tip before cutting the bend of the tongue but this was used as a guide for drawing out the bend). Cut this out on the bandsaw (using the flat of the tongue against the table)
Now using a marking gauge mark a centre line down the middle of the tongue. This will be your guide for carving the tongue. I used a sanding disk on my angle grinder, first to make the groove in the tongue down the middle and then to round the edges off. Sand and then paint a nice pink colour. We shall not be gluing this into the jaw until near the end, so you will need to put this to one side for now.
Step 8: The Head Part 2 - Snout and Nostrils
Hippos are well known for their big noses and so Henry's features needed to be built up a bit more.
To do this I took more offcuts from the 9 x 1 tulip and then cut out two snouts from the template. These look like circles really, but should roughly match the end of Henry's nose.
Next apply PVA to one side of the snout piece and also the end of Henry's nose. Then using a couple of large F Clamps glue these into place. If you have shallower clamps you may be able to get away with using G Clamps and mounting them to the inside of the top jaw and clamp one side at a time.
Leave these to dry overnight.
Next it's time to shape his snout. Again using the angle grinder and sanding discs round over the edges of the pieces we just added to the nose. While we are doing this part of the head we can also put a slight arc into the top gum line.
Next we need to add some nostrils. This is done by using a bench drill and a 20mm forstner bit. This can also be done with an electric power drill if you don't have a bench drill. There isn't really a precise place to put the nostrils, just as long as they match up either side in position you should be fine.
I then opened each nostril out using my Foredom with an 1" Saburr burr but you may want to skip this stage. He will still look pretty cool with round nostrils.
Step 9: The Head Part 3 - the Teeth
Now we come onto the really fun part. The teeth. Hippos don't have many teeth and so I felt four was an appropriate number. All 4 were made from two rolling pins made from beech (you want solid rolling pins not the ones that have a hole drilled through the middle). If you don't have access to these then you can also use tulip or any wood really that turns very well. I just had these at hand so used them.
I filmed the process of how the teeth are made but to those who can't see the video, here's the written instructions
Turning The Teeth
You need to place the rolling pin between centres and then divide the pin into two equal halves (if you are using a chuck to hold your pin then you will need to take a small amount off that end when you work out where the centre line is as this will be parted off) Once you have marked a line then take a narrow parting tool and make an indentation. Now take your spindle gouge and start rounding the ends over to make a point. Both points of the two teeth will face each other so its easier to make them both identical in shape. Now give them a sand and then part off in the middle (and at the chuck end if you are using a chuck) and you will have two teeth.
Repeat the process again for the two lower teeth but this time make sure they are approximately half the length of the teeth you just made, but the same diameter.
Now paint the teeth white (as it will be very difficult to do so once they are installed in their final place). This would also be a good opportunity to spray paint the inside of the mouth black if you haven't already done so. (I sprayed mine before chiselling out the housings for the teeth so the housings would show up better for others to see)
Installing The Teeth.
Now comes the really interesting (and painful) part. We are about to do a bit of amateur dentistry!
As you have your 4 teeth we will now need to fit them into the gum. As the teeth on hippos are set into their very thick gums we are going to have to do quite a bit of work getting them into their final place.
The top teeth (the longest ones) will need a lot of chiselling to get them into place. This I found easiest to do locked into a wide jawed vice. Take a shallow gouge and start removing the corners of the inside of the mouth. We are trying to achieve a semi circle in the gum. For the bottom two teeth (the shorter ones) I found my foredom with a 2.5cm round saburr burr much better. As we are removing less wood this didn't take as long to do.
Gluing The Teeth In
Now using a lot of PVA glue, glue the teeth in place. The lower two are very simple to do as they have gravity working with them but the other two will be a little more tricky.
I found that the larger teeth were best glued in place once the lower two teeth were fixed in place. These teeth will stick out over the lower jaw, so a housing will need to be carved into the outside of the lower jaw to allow the teeth to clear. (See diagram) This requires more power carving with my foredom and the 2.5cm saburr burr. This is why it is very important to have a thick wall and bottom on the lower jaw as these will now have to be removed slightly to allow for the upper teeth to clear.
Once this is done then the two top teeth can be installed and the head will need to be turned upside down and the jaw closed so the teeth are held exactly where they should be. Again lots of PVA is required, but I also used a bit of hot glue to make sure they were held in place while the PVA dried around them.
Step 10: The Head Part 4 - the Ears / Handles
Now for the ears. Original Henry was to have dowel handles behind his ears but found that his ear were both in the ideal position and size to be as handles.
Again these were made from offcuts of 9 x 1 Tulip which have been used throughout the project on the larger pieces. Using the ear template cut these out on your bandsaw (or coping saw). Then using a profile gauge use this to find out the curb of the head where the ears will be in place. I strongly recommend using the gauge on both sides rather than just assuming one side of the head will be the same profile as the other. Also mark a line as to where you placed the gauge on the head as you will need this later on
Fitting The Dowels
Now mark the centre of the ear on the side which will contact the head and using a 8mm bit drill a hole into the first ear. This needs to be half the depth of your dowels (I used 8mm x 40mm ones). Repeat for the other ear.
Carving The Ears
Now its time to carve the ear. Again using a foredom on dremel you need to create an incline into the middle of the ear (I went a little too deep and ended up breaking through to the dowel hole so go carefully around where the hole has been bored for the dowel (or, like me, just apply some filler afterwards if you do). The back of the ears need to be curved on an shallow curve and so using the foredom or a disk sander create this shape. I found dry fitting the dowel handy for holding the ears while working on them.
Fitting the Ears
Now it's time to fit the ears. This can be quite tricky so using the marks left on the head when you used your profile gauge find where the internal curb best fits. Now draw around the ear onto the head and use this as your reference. Dry fit the dowel and then add a blob of paint to the end. Line both the outline of the ear with the ear and push the dowel onto the surface of the head. It should be roughly in the centre of the outline you just drew. Then using the same 8mm drill bit drill the corresponding dowel hole into the head. Glue both dowel and the contact surface with lots of PVA and repeat for the other side. Allow to dry overnight.
Gaps may appear once the glue has dried and so run some filler around the bottom of the ears where they meet the head.
Step 11: The Legs
Now it's time to cut the legs out. I used some 8 x 2 pine that I had knocking around but you could use any 8 x 2 wood you had at hand for these parts. Cut out four of these and then drill 4 counterbore holes and then a pilot hole near the top of each leg in a square.
Step 12: The Body Assembly and Final Carving
For this part I strongly recommend you get another pair of hands to help you with this as by this point certain bits such as the head and torso will be quite heavy to hold with just one hand.
Positioning the Head
First place the head onto the front of the body. The internal right angle should fit quite comfortably onto the 6 x 2 we used for the back. Where the back of the head ends mark a line and . This line is important it marks the area that needs to be kept flat and not carved away. It also gives you a reference on where to put the front two legs as we will need to leave a small gap at the front of the body. Mark two screw holes near the back of the head too as these will be used later to fix the head in it's final position. But for now remove the head and put to one side. I found it helpful to have someone holding the head while I did this part.
Fitting The Legs
Now we can finally fix the legs in place. I found using a couple of sash cramps really helpful for this stage as well as an extra pair of hands. First lie the body on it's side and position the front leg onto the body, we want the legs to be slightly splayed to allow for Henry to sit on his rockers. I used a slight angle so his toes are slightly off the floor. Now, mark, glue and screw this into place. Now the back leg. The back legs needs to be stuck out by about an inch from Henry's bum. Again at a slight angle this time so his toes at touching the ground and the back of his foot is off the ground. Mark, glue and screw into place. Repeat for the opposite two legs. I found once the leg was in roughly the right position I then had my helper hold Henry on his two fixed legs and then this allowed me to work out where these legs went and the angles they were meant to be at. Again, mark, glue and screw into place. I found for added peace of mind I put a couple of sash cramps and large F Clamps sandwiching the body between the two legs to hold everything firm while the glue dried overnight. Apply any filler to any gaps that have appeared between the body and the legs. Also apply some filler to the screw holes in the legs
Final Carving Of The Body.
Now it's time to do the final carving on the body itself. Using my angle grinder with it's sanding disc I rounded over the legs first and then rounding over the back (Henry's Bum) merging this slightly with the back two legs. His back (the seat) can now also be finally round over and shaped at this stage. Do not cross the line that we mark as the position of the head as this needs to be kept flat. The void between the two legs on each side needs a slight dip to allow for the rider's legs to sit comfortably. Give the whole body a sand with a belt sander to smooth out any bumps and then this is ready for painting.
Attaching The Head To The Body.
Now using the two mark we made in the back of the head, drill two pilot holes at a slight angle into the head and counterbore slightly. Now glue and screw the head in place up the the line that we had not carved on the back of the body. Allow to dry overnight and then if necessary carve the back of the head so that it meets the back more fluidly. You may also want to apply a bead of filler in any gaps that have appeared between the head and the body at this point as well as the screw holes holding the head to the body.
Step 13: Painting
Now comes the fun part. Time to paint Henry and see him in his full colour. I decided with a grey matt emulsion for this but you could use a purple or bluer shade if you wanted to do so.
Step 14: Flossie the Bird - With Her Toothbrush
The customer who requested this had made an added addition of that they wanted a bird inside the jaw cleaning Henry's teeth with a toothbrush.
Using a plasticine model this was made to fit the inside the mouth, so would recommend if you intend to add this to you Henry then I would wait until the head and jaw are attached so you can make sure everything fits in quite nicely.
The models profile was then transferred on to a piece of lime wood. The waste was first removed with my band saw and then carved using my Foredom.
Mounting The Legs
Two holes were then drilled for Flossies two legs which were a piece of 1/4" dowel. These were glued in place and then the final carving of the wings (the most delicate part) was then completed.
Her toothbrush was then made from 3 lolly sticks which were then glued together. This forms the handle. The teeth are made from cocktail sticks. These were glued edge to edge in a row and then after the glue had dried then cut down using a pair of bull nose pliers (if you were to use a saw these would shatter). This were then glued again and again until I had a block of bristles. The block is then glued to the handle of the toothbrush. Leave this to dry overnight and then paint. I painted it blue and white but you may decide differently.
Painting Flossie and Installing Her Toothbrush
Now paint the bird and then glue the tooth brush to the two wings.
Fitting The Bird.
Now taking the tongue that we haven't glued in place yet, mark where flossies feet are to go and then drill two holes for the dowels (again I used a 1/4" bit for this). Glue the tongue in its final place and then if you want to glue the birds feet into the tongue. I decided not to as I wasn't sure if the customer wanted it in there permanently or to have the option to remove it.
Step 15: The Rockers
This follows the same process as my other rocking horse Gilly The Giraffe and the following has been copied from her instructable.
For this I used some 2" thick Ash as I had this lying around my workshop.
1. Create your template for the Skids To create the template for the skids (can't think of a better name for it)
I found out how long the Hippo will be and then added and extra 7" either end. I then took a piece of old wallpaper of the length that I needed and folded this in half, then drew my shape for the rocker.
2. Transferring your template to your wood.
The most economical way I found of getting the most out of your wood is to place the two skids as close together as possible edge to edge. I used a 4' length of a 10" wide board and this just covered the curve.See the diagram above , this is not to scale and is just a demonstration drawing.
3. Cut out your Skids
This was then transferred onto the wood and then cut out on my bandsaw.
4. Drilling your mounting Holes
Two holes are then drilled at either end, roughly 7" away from the edge into both rockers at the same time. These are then screwed together so they would both be identical to shape
5. Shaping your Skids
The next step is to then smooth out the curves (particularly the outside curve). For this use a spoke shave, which is time consuming but well worth it! Next finish the whole surface off with a belt sander to make the wood nice and smooth.
6. Installing the Struts
Two further pieces of 3x2 are then cut to the spread of the legs plus 1" either side. These will be the struts of the rocker on which the Hippo will be mounted to. The two holes used on the rockers while shaping are used again for running a screw through to hold each strut into place. Countersink these first (as we won't want to see these later on)! Adding lots of glue onto the ends of each strut is highly recommended. Once you have a fully assembled rocker you now need to place Henry onto each strut. This is to hold them at the correct angle while the glue dries. Leave this to dry overnight and don't touch it, or you might adjust the angle of the struts!
The next day......
Dry fitting the Rocker to the Hippo
1. Positioning Henry to the Rocker
Once the glue has dried you now need to drill the holes into the struts which will then be used by the screws to hold the Giraffe to the rocker. To do this place Henry back onto the struts and then position her so she is square and equal on either side of the rocker. Next draw around each foot.
2. Drilling the holes
Next turn over the rocker and drilled a hole into the centre of each foot print. This is then countersunk. 60mm Screws are then inserted into the holes, protruding very slightly from the surface at first. Herny is then placed on top and lined back up with her footprints we mark out in the first step of this stage. The indentations left on each foot now marked the pilot holes you need to create for the screws to go into each foot. Each foot is then drilled into but about half an inch.
3. Dry fitting
He is then dry fitted together but not permanently. This will happen at a much later on in the stage as we have lots of painting to do first. This would however be a good opportunity to test out how he rides and if any adjustments need to be made to the rocker such as the curve of the Skids.
4. Filling the screw holes.
At this point you might want to start thinking about filling in some of the screw holes you've made. I used a basic white wood filler into each screw hole on the skids that go into the struts.
Step 16: Tail and Finishing Touches
Now it's time to add Henry's tail. I made this out of a 50g ball of black wool (although you could use navy blue instead).
Measuring out the length of wool.
Measure the length from Henry's rear to how long you want his tail to hang. Add on an additional 20cm and then run off about 7 lengths of the wool at this measurement. You need to repeat this step twice more so you have 21 strands in total
Tying your strands together
Now tie all of the lengths together into one large knot and then divide the strands into 3 groups of 7 strands.
Plaiting the strands
Now plait them together up to the position of her horns and then tie another knot. If you're not sure who to plait then this should help https://www.wikihow.com/Make-Plaited-Wool-Bracele...
Plait to approximately 10cm near to the end and then tie all the strands together in a second knot. Now all the lengths past this knot will become your tassel. Comb these free with your fingers and then trim to length. The tail I made had a tassel length of 8cm but you may want to make yours longer or shorter.
Fitting the tail.
Now comes the really painful part for Henry. We have to drill into his bum! I used a auger bit in a hand brace for this job. What size bit you use is dependant on the size of the knot at the non tassle end. You could use a Forstner bit in an electric drill but use a mains powered one rather than a cordless one.
Painting the Rockers.
The rockers can be painted if desired and then Henry can be mounted back onto them and screwed into place. I added a blob of glue to each foot as I done this.
Step 17: Time for a Test Ride!
Henry's now ready for his first test ride! My nieces and nephew were quite happy to help once again and had a lot of fun in the process.