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How to Carve a Wooden Rocking Horse

Updated February 21, 2017

Carved wooden rocking horses are a traditional child's toy. These rocking horses range from simple toys to intricately carved heirlooms. A basic carved rocking horse can be made as a simple toy for a child. A carved wooden rocking horse that is to be used as a toy can be made out of less expensive wood, and the carving can be simplified. A rocking horse like this can be made in a home workshop by woodworkers with a variety of woodcarving skills.

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  1. Draw the outline of the front legs of the rocking horse on two of the 2-by-10-by-24-inch boards. Make a side and front profile view using a pencil. Draw the outline of the hind legs on two of the 2-by-10-by-24-inch boards. Make a side and front profile view.

  2. Cut out side profile view of the front and hind legs, using a band saw. Cut out the front profile views, using the saw.

  3. Draw a side profile of the main body of the horse with a pencil on the 2-by-12-by-28-inch boards. Cut out the side profile on the two boards using a band saw. Place the 2-by-12-by-18-inch board, or centre board, and 2-by-12-by-16-inch board, or head board, in between the two side profile boards. Trace the outline of the side profile boards on the centre and head board. Draw the side profile of the head on the remaining portion of the head board. Cut out the lines that you have drawn on the centre and head board, using a band saw.

  4. Draw a curved bottom on the 2-by-12-by-32-inch boards. These are the rocker boards. Cut out the curve with a band saw.

  5. Place the centre and head portion on a work surface. Align the side profile pieces on either sides of the centre and head portion. Place the legs on the work surface near where they should go on the sides. Apply wood glue to the areas of the wood that join together on all of these parts. Place the legs in position and clamp the entire assembly with bar clamps. Wipe off any excess glue with a damp rag. Allow the glue to dry. Remove the bar clamps.

  6. Carve the body, legs and head of the horse, using a woodcarving knife. Add in details such as the eyes, mouth, mane and nostrils, using the knife.

  7. Place the rockers approximately 16 inches apart so that they are parallel to each other. Place one 1-by-4-by-16-inch board on top of the rockers in the centre. This is the centre slat. Place one slat on either side of the centre slat. Use 2 1/2-inch screws and a screw gun to fasten the slats in place. Align the remaining two slats so that they are the correct distance for the front and hind legs to sit upon. This distance will depend on the angle and placement that you chose to fasten the legs to the body.

  8. Fasten the slats in place with 2 1/2-inch screws and a screw gun.

  9. Place the horse on top of the slats. Fasten the horse to the slats by screwing up from the bottom of the slats into the feet of the horse. Use two to three screws per leg. Drill a one-inch hole through the head of the horse, using a one-inch drill bit and drill. Insert the 1-by-12-inch dowel through the hole. Apply a bead of glue to the centre of the dowel. Wipe off any excess glue. Allow the glue to dry before handling.

  10. Sand the entire rocking horse. Apply a wood finish of your choice. Allow the finish to dry according to the instructions provided on the finish container.

  11. Tip

    Have someone sew a seat cushion and other cloth details to the horse.


    Wear eye protection when working with wood. Follow tool safety precautions for safe operation.

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Things You'll Need

  • 4 2-by-10-by-24-inch boards
  • 2 2-by-12-by-28-inch boards
  • 1 2-by-12-by-18-inch board
  • 1 2-by-12-by-16-inch board
  • 2 2-by-12-by-32-inch boards
  • Pencil
  • Band saw
  • Wood glue
  • Bar clamps
  • Damp rag
  • 5 1-by-4-by-16-inch boards
  • 1 box of 2 1/2-inch wood screws
  • Screw gun
  • 1-inch drill bit
  • Drill
  • 1 1-by-12-inch dowel
  • Carving knife
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood finish of your choice

About the Author

Jonah Morrissey

Jonah Morrissey has been writing for print and online publications since 2000. He began his career as a staff reporter/photographer for a weekly newspaper in upstate New York. Morrissey specializes in topics related to home-and-garden projects, green living and small business. He graduated from Saint Michael's College, earning a B.A. in political science with a minor in journalism and mass communications.

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