Corral a horse for Christmas Essay

If you have already discovered the truth in the adage”it’s more blessed to give than to receive,” just waituntil you give something made by your own two chisel-scarred,varnish-stained hands. You’ll find even more satisfaction when,instead of the usual polite “That’s nice” (only to havethe store-bought thing shelved after a cursory examination), your childor grandchild joyously puts your handmade gift to use–and over theyears lovingly wears it out and as lovingly puts his hand to rebuildingit. You say the only thing you ever tried to make was a doghouse? Andthe dog left home the next day? Not to worry. Thanks to PeterStevenson’s Wood Toys and Dollhouses (Chilton Book Co., Radnor, PA19087 205 pp., $15.95), you have the plans for constructing long-lastingtoys from rough-and-ready materials that gain appeal with time. All youneed for this labor of love is a one-quarter-inch electric drill, ahand-held circular saw and an electric saber saw, with maybe a littlehelp from tools already in your kitchen drawer: hammer, pliers,screwdriver, chisel and wrench.

You’ll need the wood, of course, to begin with, and thevarnish or paints to add the final touch. But Stevenson generouslysupplies the accurate line work, a materials list and cutting andfinishing techniques for all the 15 “old faithful” toys in hiscarefully illustrated book. Although we lingered longest over the Dump Truck, the Steam Shovel,the Dollhouse and the Log Cabin, nostalgia finally led us to decide onthe Jumping Horse. Mr. Stevenson warns that because the jumping horse,suspended on tension springs, is high-spirited, it should be used withadult supervision. But don’t overdo it. Once you have proudlypresented your handsome handmade gift to the lucky rider-to-be onChristmas morning, do get off and give the kid a chance. Kids catch onpretty quick nowadays.

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Materials List 4’x4′ ACX exterior-grade plywood panel,3/4″ thick 1′ length of rough redwood 4×4 stock 8′ lengthof rough redwood 2×2 stock 6″ length of fir, cedar or redwood 2x6stock Two 10′ length of fir, cedar or redwood 1×3 stock 8’length of fir, cedar or redwood 1×3 stock 6″ length of 1/2″dowel 9″ length of 5/8″ dowel 6″ length of 7/8″dowel 3′ length of 3/4″ I.D. galvanized pipe Four 6″heavy-duty tension springs Four 4″x5/16″ eyebolts, nuts anddouble washers One hundred 1-1/2″ #8 flathead wood screws30″x36″ rectangle of plastic grass carpet 4′ length of3/4″-diameter hemp rope One pound of 3″ galvanized box nailsRoll of 3/4″ plastic tape Dog leash 12″x12″ square ofdark-colored Naugahyde 12″x12″ square of red felt 5/8″staples The jumping horse is suspended on tension springs attached to thesurrounding corral fence and provides lively jumping action for youngchildren in a wide range of ages.

However, because it is high-spirited,it should be used with adult supervision. The body of the horse is made of three layers of 2″x6″redwood, cedar or pine (or any other medium soft-wood stock), with3/4″ plywood legs. The head is cut from a redwood 4×4. Cutting and drilling The corral: The first step in building the jumping horse is to cutthe corral posts from rough redwood or cedar 2x2s. These can be sandedto prevent splintering, but use rough-cut stock to get the extra-largesize of lumber. (Finished 2x2s will measure 1-1/2″x1-1/2″ andare too small.

) The rails and crosspieces can be cut from finished orrough 1″x3″ stock (or split grape stakes with a crosssectionsize close to this size). Cut the 30″x23″ plywood base. (We used ACX for betterweather protection.) Then cut three 20-1/2″ posts and one28-1/2″ post from the 2×2 and trim the top ends to a blunt bevel with a crosscut saw. Drill 1/8″ pilot holes through the base at thecorners so that the bottoms of all four posts can be attached to thebase 3/4″ in from the long-side edges and flush with the end edges.

Drive 3-1/2″ nails up through the bottom of the base and into theend grain of the posts. Drill pilot holes for the wood screws through the rails andcrosspieces and screw them to the posts (fig. 1). Notch thecrosspieces at the midpoint and bend them slightly so they can crosswithout being notched.

Screw the two crosspieces together at the cornerto add stability to the corral frame. Next, drill with a 5/16″ bit through the four posts in thepositions shown, then insert a 5/16″ eyebolt in each hole from theinside of the corral. Bolt them tight with a washer and lock nut andtrim the bolt flush with the nut (filing the ends to round off). Drill a1/2″ hole through the “hitching post” as shown; then cutand insert a 6″ length of 1/2″ dowel. Sand all sharp cornersand potential splinters at the edges with 80-grit, then 150-gritsandpaper. Apply two coats of satin-finish, exterior-grade varnish. After varnishing, cut a 30″x36″ rectangle of plasticgrass carpet and notch to clear the posts (fig.

2). Wrap the edges ofthe grass carpet under the base and staple it in place with 5/8″staples. The top rail at the front of the corral (the hitching-postend) can be wrapped with alternating spirals of red and white plastictape to provide the look of a competition jump. Hook the heavy-dutytension springs on to the eyebolts at the corner posts and use a pair ofpliers to open the spring eyes. Use the pliers to crimp the spring andeyes after mounting to prevent the springs from becoming detached duringa ride.

The horse: To build the horse, start by making the patterns for thefront and hind legs and transfer them to the 3/4″ plywood. Drillholes for the 1″ pipe-hanger poles as shown in figures 3 and 4. Make the pattern for the body and follow the dimensions in figures5A and B. Transfer the pattern to the 2×6 and cut three of these piecesfor the body. Select one piece to form the center layer, then mark thedotted lines showing the position of the neck at the center layer (5A).Mark the positions of the 1″ holes for the pipe hangers and drillthrough all three layers with a 1″-diameter spade bit for the powerdrill. Next, mark the dotted cutoff lines on the center layer of thethree body pieces and cut along them to provide a mounting slot for thenext piece of 2×6. Make the pattern for the neck piece and transfer it onto theremaining 2×6 stock (6).

Then place the legs in position on the twooutside body layers and mark the outlines onto the body parts. Nail andglue (driving pilot holes through the other layers, if needed, toprevent splitting) each side layer to the center body layer and to theneck piece. Align all parts flush at the top surface of the body (thejumper’s back) and position the nails within the outlines of thelegs so that the heads will be hidden when the legs are attached. The next step is to cut the 18″x3/4″ inside-diameter pipehangers. Then drill 5/16″-diameter holes through one side of thepipe, the center of the holes spaced 1/2″ in from each end of eachpipe.

Insert the pipes through the holes in the body, then slip the legsover the ends of the pipe and slide them up to the sides of the body.Screw or nail them in place with glue. Wrap the hanger pipes with3/4″ black plastic tape next to the sides of the jumper to athickness of about 1/8″ to prevent side slip. Cut the head from a short length of rough redwood 4″x4″(Fig. 7). (Cedar or pine can be substituted and the head laminated fromsix layers of 1″x6″ stock cut in profile, glued together, thentrimmed to size from the top view.

) The profile and top views can becut with a handsaw and rounded with a Surform wood shaper or cut with aband saw. Cut the profile first, then the top outline. Finally, drillthe ear, eye and nostril holes with wood spade bits to the diametersshown, about 3/4″ deep. The notch for the neck can be cut out, as shown, with a band saw ora hand saw. Use a chisel to cut down the front to remove the wood inthe notch. Cut the 7/8″-diameter dowel ears and glue and screwthem to the ear holes. Glue and slip down the slot at the back of thehead onto the neck and drive screws in through pilot holes, as shown inFigure 7, to mount the head solidly on the neck. With the jumper bodycomplete, use a Surform wood shaper to round off all sharp edges andremove splinters.

Sand the body smooth with #80-grit, then 150-gritsandpaper, and either paint or varnish the horse and frame. Make a bridle and reins from an inexpensive dog leash, as shown inFigure 8. To make a saddle, cut the shape shown in the grid patternfrom Naugahyde; then cut another layer 1/4″ larger all the wayaround from the red felt. Glue both layers in place with contactcement. Paint crossbars, hoofs, top of the ears, hanger springs andeyebolts semigloss black.

Drill 7/8″-diameter holes in the neck, rump and top of thehead as shown in the patterns to provide anchor points for the mane andthe tail. Cut a 9″ or 10″ length of tail and one end withblack plastic tape and insert the ends into the holes. To hold the ropein place, angle and drive small finishing nails through it. Afteranchoring the rope, unravel and fluff it into a continuous mane; trim tolength with scissors. Wrap the base of the tail with more tape to helpit stand, then unravel the end and comb it out.

Assembly: To mount the jumper, bend the spring ends open enough toslip into the holes on the top sides of the hanger pipes. Close theeyes. Round all the metal parts with a file and tape the corners.


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