Rocking Horses

There aren’t many things in life I enjoy more than watching a child play happily. With three of my own, I get to do this every day, except of course when they are fighting and tearing the house apart…

One toy that every kid I’ve ever met loves playing with is a rocking horse. It’s easy to see why; they get to ride and rock on it, it’s brightly painted, and it’s an animal they can pretend play with, great for imaginative play.

I enjoy making them so much I decided to film a build video of one. I can build one of these within 2-3 days now, but this actual one took quite a while as it was made when I had only 30 minutes a week free to woodwork. You can watch the changing state of the workshop in the background because of this! This one went to a good friend of mine who just had her first child. I wanted to give something that would last a long time as opposed to a bunch of flowers and some baby clothes like I normally would. Her bubby is obviously too young for it at the moment, but they’ll be able to play with it in different ways as they grow.

I also made one a while back for a little girl named Isabelle who I found out about through facebook. She has severe autism which makes it extremely hard for her to communicate. You can follow her progress on her facebook page here. Her parents were setting up a Sensory Room in their house so I offered to make a rocking horse for her to play with in there. She seems to be enjoying it too!

Isabelle on her new rocker

Isabelle on her new rocker


I think the colours came out really nice too



The only child that isn’t happy with me making rocking horses is my own son! He gets to rock on them for an hour or two when they are finished, then I send them off elsewhere. Seeing as he is on the autism spectrum himself, (not severely, he just has a little bit of difficulty communicating) I should probably get off my butt and make him his own.

Hope you enjoy the video. I actually gave up on it after spending hours editing as I thought I’d lost half the footage! It turned out to be a corrupt drive. I managed to save most of the footage and have thrown that drive in the bin.

I want to follow up this video with another pretty quickly. I’m hoping to film how to build and use my single blade box joint jig this weekend. It’s so useful already for me, I want to see if anybody else can see a way to improve or extend its features.




Box Joint Jig Success & cheap Shop Cupboards

Well I’ll admit it, I’m shocked. The single blade box joint jig I built actually works! It doesn’t look like much at the moment, there was a fair amount of refining and design changing throughout the process, but now it’s at a stage where creating a nice fitting box joint is as simple as making a few cuts on the tablesaw.

These are straight off the jig, with no sanding or cleanup done at all.

These are straight off the jig, with no sanding or cleanup done at all.

I’ve redone the sketchup plans to reflect the new design (which can be built from mainly scrap wood) and will shoot a build video of it as soon as I can. While it’s not a replacement for a dado stack, it means I won’t have to spend any money on one for a while and will be great for any woodworkers out there like me who either don’t have a dado set, or whose saw can’t take one.

The final week of my holidays was a busy one; I had an 8m bin arrive on the Monday morning and got stuck into filling it. There was so much junk and rubbish just lying around the backyard, it really was a disgrace. A lot of it was from the garage renovation but there were also old toys and junk lying around. Now, most of it is gone. The kids are able to play outside again, the dog has room to run around, and I am able to access all of my tools!

The past year they’ve been gathering dust while boxed and stacked on top of each other. After filling the bin I decided it was time to start collecting all the tools together. Now, I had an old problem, I still had nowhere to store them all. Time to make something? How about some cheap cupboards with drawers for the tools?

Basic frame from a length of 90x45

Basic frame from a length of 90×45

I came up with the design for these very simple cupboards a while back. They are storage with a specific purpose; to be as cheap and easy to build as possible. They are sized specifically so that I can buy timber and sheets off the shelf and have very little waste. I built them with Kreg joints however they can also be made with simple screwed & glued butt joints.

The drawers are made from a sheet of ply.

The drawers are made from a sheet of ply and cut on the new jig in minutes.

Now while they aren’t ugly looking, they aren’t meant to be in a designer kitchen either. They are cheap, easy and quick to build. It costs around $25 to make one cupboard with doors, adding a drawer is just a few bucks more. I’ll eventually have half the garage lined with these so I want them to be very economical.






For the bench top, I wanted to use 2 scrap sheets of melamine covered particle board I’ve held onto for about 4 years now. These were leftover from a kitchen renovation once upon a time I think. First I ripped about 10cm off of one side to remove water damaged edges, then cut them to width – which sliced off any damage on the other side. I laid these down on top of the 3 cupboards to make a benchtop. They are held in place with screws every 100mm and the exposed edge is trimmed with 12mm ply to neaten things up. Unfortunately the sheets were a fraction too short for the length of the wall so I plan to build some sort of storage cubby on the right hand side to cover the small gap. Possibly a battery charge station.



That benchtop will be used for sitting at (not on!) and maybe working on any electronics projects I have, it doesn’t need to be built tough like a proper workbench as I won’t ever give it a hard time.

Still a couple more night shifts at work then I’ll have a few days off to spend in the shop. I’d like to finish the cupboard doors and paint the whole assembly too.


Single Blade Box Joint Jig

So after a couple of days playing with the design, I’ve managed to get to a point where I can cut either loose or extremely tight fitting box joints quite easily. :-)

The ‘proper fit’ is one that I still haven’t mastered. But I’m getting closer.

The design has been simplified in a few ways from what I originally posted. I’ve dropped the drawer runners for the lateral movement – I didn’t take into account that all the runners I have are the ‘self closing’ type. Basically they are angled to help an open drawer shut itself. And once I started test cuts using a simple piece of wood balancing against the jig, it made no sense to complicate things.

The real issue is in finding that perfect fit. The original turret template I made was poorly done, the fingers were different widths and were just too inaccurate. So instead I made a 2cm x 2cm template in Sketchup and printed it out, then cut that carefully on the scrollsaw. Results were better, but again using calipers I could see that there was a real width variation on each finger.

So I came up with this method which has given me the best results yet; I sliced up some 2cm (3/4in) stock into small blocks, in two different sizes. By placing these blocks next to each other in an alternating pattern, I can create a very accurate template for my key to follow. Each block is 2cm thus each slot will be 2cm. And as a bonus, this method will make it easy to knock together a different design of box joint in the future. I can simply swap the block positioning around to create joints twice as wide or cut new ones to make them different sized but still accurate.

What is stopping me from perfect fitting joints now is my ‘key’. I used a screwdriver originally which was 5.8mm in diameter, my blade leaves a kerf of around 3.4mm. I didn’t stop to think and realise that this meant if I moved my key all the way to the left, the blade would move 1.2mm less than it. Ditto on the right. So each time I cut, I was making a finger 2.4mm wider than it needed.

I swapped out the screw driver for an allen key that measured 4mm and instantly the results were better, but the allen key also wobbled slightly as it could not be mounted tightly enough. Looking around I found a woodworking screw that measured 3.9mm, driving that straight into the jig as my key yielded the best results of the day. But still, not good enough to use.

It’s after 9pm now so I can’t play around with the saw tonight, but I did find a different screw which measures 3.4mm. It’s all set to try out first in the morning.

Overall, I think this is time well spent. I know a box joint jig is pretty simple and rudimentary, but I only avg 1-2 hours a week in the workshop these days;

If I can cut joints out with a jig in just a few minutes, it will do wonders for me!

The workpieces are clamped to the slider, which travels along the jig.

The workpieces are clamped to the slider, which travels along the jig.

Template ready to cut on the scrollsaw.

Template ready to cut on the scrollsaw.

Still no good, oh yeah, the key is too wide...

Still no good, oh yeah, the key is too wide…

New template and key.

New template and key.

Now the joint is sized via these blocks. they are friction fit (jammed) into the cavity.

Now the joint is sized via these blocks. they are friction fit (jammed) into the cavity.

A joint that consistently fits, but it  obviously needs to be improved.

Now I’ve a joint that consistently fits, but it obviously needs to be improved.


Designing a jig

These are the very early stage of a design I’m working on for a Box Joint jig that only requires a single blade.

I’m too cheap to purchase a dado stack, especially until I’m certain that it will fit my saw, plus I can live without one for at least the next couple months. I would purchase plans that are already out there, but all the ones I’ve seen are designed for a dado stack; they can do single blade cuts but as that is not what they were designed for, they generally seem to require a bit of messing around to do so.

It’s only the early mockup so there are plenty of issues with it, but I think it may have some promise. Only one way to find out.

Forward and Back motion  via T tracks on table

Forward and Back motion via table mitre slots.

Lateral motion is provided by two drawer runners. Work pieces are clamped to the large rectangle.

Lateral motion is provided by two drawer runners. Work pieces are clamped to the large rectangle.

Lateral movement is limited via the silver pin which is bound by the pink template.

Lateral movement is limited via the silver pin which is bound by the pink ‘turret’ template.

So the cut process would be:

  • Slide the jig til the pin hits the right of a template wall, make a cut,
  • Slide jig so the pin hits the left of that wall, make cut,
  • Make multiple cuts hogging out the material for that joint,
  • Lift pin up, slide jig over and drop pin into next section, repeat cuts.

I believe the spacing of the ‘turret’ wall needs to be the desired finger thickness, plus the width of the key plus the width of the blade. I’ll figure that out for sure through some trial and error when I get around to building it. Having the drawer runners mounted sideways may be an issue as well, I’ll have to check that out, maybe I’ll just make a simple wood slider instead.

What do you think, any chance of working?

Holidays – Finally

It’s finally happened, my Annual Leave has kicked in! :-) Three weeks off. Today’s the first day and I’m still dead tired from working the nightshift, but I’m feeling happy at least!

I’ve hardly been able to do any sort of woodworking or even home improvements at all the past two months. The same old complaint about too much work on and not enough hours to do them in, has had me working pretty much 7 days a week. I’m feeling pretty burnt out so I’m looking forward to relaxing a bit the coming weeks.Might even be a beer or two in the near future.

Hell, I’ll grab one right now. Be right back.

It’s time I got back into posting on here more often; the few patterns and templates I’ve put up have had way more downloads than I expected. The picnic table plans have had something like 2.5k downloads, the reindeer and Hedgehog pencilcase are both over 1.5k. I seriously expected only 10-20 downloads for each so I’m amazed at how well they’ve gone. I can’t even begin to imagine how many downloads someone like Steve Ramsay would have on his site.

I’m going to turn this into a ‘post a week’ site; Tuesday night (Melbourne time) will become my standard new article release time. They’ll be the same mix of general posts, free plans and videos; just more consistent.

Gee that beer kicked in pretty quick. Happy new year and goodnight all!