Whether you have kids or not, rocking horses make great additions to any household. For reasons we can recall from our own childhoods, whenever kids see a wooden rocking horse, they get so excited you’d think they were about to ride a real horse.

Buying a rocking horse is great, but it’s even better if you make it yourself. They’ve been around for centuries yet never seem to go out of style.

Building a wooden rocking horse is a classic project to take on for any woodworking enthusiast. Whether you’re making one for a gift or for yourself, rocking horses are a great way to put your skills to the test. Not to mention, the feeling of finishing a project that both looks great and provides unlimited entertainment is a win-win for everyone.

There are plenty of different methods to making a wooden rocking horse depending on the tools you have access to, the materials you have available, and what you want the finished product to look like.

If you’re looking to craft a wooden rocking horse of your own, you’ve come to the right place. What we’ve done is compiled some of the best blueprints around the internet for you to follow in your woodworking endeavors.

Naturally, the list will go from easiest to hardest. Only the most talented and experienced woodworkers should attempt the more difficult plans near the end of the article.

Good luck to you!

 

‘Classic’ Wooden Rocking Horse

 

This plan can be found here.

Skill Level: Beginner

Materials Needed: wood, glue, nails, putty, staples

Tools Needed:  jigsaw or table saw, miter saw, drill, stapler, clamps, pencil, iron, knife, paint/paint trays, paint brush

Estimated Duration: 1-2 hours

 

Sometimes, less is better. HGTV’s article is a step-by-step, no nonsense guide on how to make your first wooden rocking horse.

Likely resembling most of the rocking horses you’ve come across, this plan demonstrates how to make a quintessential horse that is functional yet also visually pleasing.

This plan involves tracing the figure of your rocking horse on whichever wood you choose to use, and then using a saw to cut out all the wood for your parts. The different parts of the rocking horse are carefully fastened together with the use of nails, staples and glue.

This plan is ideal for those who want to craft a simple rocking horse that looks straight out of your childhood. With this particular building plan, there is no difficult woodworking involved and, depending on your working speed, can be completed in 1-2 hours. If you’re looking for a fun but easy starter project, give this guide a try!

 

‘Traditional’ Wooden Rocking Horse

 

This plan can be found here.

Materials Needed: plywood, insulation foam polystyrene, paper, foam, white filler, wall crack filler, mild steel, split pins, wall paint, varnish, epoxy

Tools Needed: hammer, drill, scraper, paint brush, bolts, hangers, washers,

Estimated Duration: 2-3 hours

 

While similar to the previous rocking horse plan, this one uses a larger variety of materials and also requires a little more advanced woodworking skill. That said, this is still well within the beginner range and is an awesome project to attempt if you’re feeling crafty.

The author of this article began his project with the goal to make a straightforward rocking horse without the need for expensive tools or costly materials. He also wanted it to be sturdy enough to support a fully grown adult, and able to withstand the outdoors year-round.

The reason this project is great is because it’s very D.I.Y. The woodworker wanted to make a rocking horse for his granddaughter, and he did it without following anyone’s plan but his own. While it perhaps looks a bit rougher than some of the other rocking horses included in this article, considering he did it from scratch it is actually quite impressive.

He opts for certain materials because it’s what he happened to have at his house, which is something that embodies what it is to be a woodworker. The author improvises and utilizes spare materials in order to create a finished product he was happy with.

The end result is a rocking horse that not only looks good but is very functional – he even includes a video of his granddaughter riding it for the first time. Her enjoyment should be enough to inspire you to give this project a go for yourself.

 

Pinto Wooden Rocking Horse

 

This plan can be found here.

 

Skill Level: Beginner

Materials Needed: wood, dowel, eyes (author recommends wiggly eyes), duct tape

Tools Needed: jigsaw/scroll saw/band saw, drill, router, clamps, jig, builders square

Estimated Duration: 1-2

 

This is another take on the basic wooden rocking horse. The plan is similar to both the traditional and classic rocking horse plans but varies structurally. Choosing to attempt this project will be similar to the other beginner plans- it is just a matter of personal taste.

The friendly looking pinto rocking horse detailed in this guide is a very sleek and enticing finished product. The colors that the author chooses really makes it stand out and it is certainly much more conducive to remaining indoors compared to the traditional rocking horse, mostly due to its compact size.

Construction in this plan is like the others, requiring the use of carefully sawed pieces of wood that are combined together (with nails and glue) to complete the rocking horse structure.

The reason the finished horse pictured here looks so clean is thanks to the skill of the woodworker. The more care you put into the process, the better everything will turn out. If done properly then your horse might look just as good as the author’s turned out, which is why it is always smart to stick to the guide as closely as you can.

This rocking horse will be very hard to break. The method in which it is constructed would allow this horse to be mounted by an adult, if it came to it. If you’re looking for an indoor and durable wooden horse that is easy to build yet attractive, the pinto is a good option for you.

 

Spring-Suspended Wooden Rocking Horse

 

This plan can be found here.

           

Skill Level: Intermediate

Materials Needed: wood, rope, dowel, leather (for ears), hole plugs, closet rods, paint, springs

Tools Needed: saber/band saw, drill, paint brush

Estimated Duration: 3-4 hours

 

Alright, this one is less of a ‘rocking’ horse. The guide more aptly describes it as a ‘bouncing’ horse.

This building plan puts a spin on the regular rocking-style horses and actually uses springs to power movement instead.

While this might be a more exciting play toy for a child, the article mentions that it should only be intended for children of at least two years of age. This is because the springs can result in more intense action compared to the usual rocker-style wooden horse. The last thing you want is an injury from something that is supposed to be fun!

The pendulum also swings the other way. Older (or heavier) kids may be too much for the springs to handle. This is also a reason why this horse must be built properly, so if you’re giving this one a go, do it carefully!

The woodworker also mentions the importance of following the blueprint he provides quite closely. The reasoning behind this is that a horse built too thin will allow the ‘rider’ to swing side to side too much. If the horse is built too short, this will cramp the rider’s legs while a horse that is too long will prevent any movement for the rider at all.

Your best bet is to follow the guidelines the woodworker provides you for the spring-suspended rocking horse. If you are a bit more experienced, by all means, you can modify some of the specifications. Just remember that in this case, the ramifications of a poorly built rocking horse can be potentially dangerous for the kids it is intended for.

That said, the substitution of springs is a fresh take on the wooden rocking horse that is sure to excite not only children but the woodworker who is able to successfully finish building one.

 

‘Heirloom’ Wooden Rocking Horse

 

This plan can be found here.

 

 Skill Level: Advanced

Materials Needed: wood, rope, dowels, jute macramé fiber, walnut oil, wood glue

Tools Needed: table mounted router, saber or band saw, drill press or electric hand drill, bar clamps, c-clamps, spokeshave, hand plane

Estimated Duration: 5+ hours

 

Alright, if you’re ready to truly embark on a woodworking journey, this is the plan for you. If you are prepared to put in the effort to craft a rocking horse that is both polished and hardy, then by all means keep reading!

The finished wooden horse does not look all that different from the other plans I’ve included in this article, however there is something very majestic (if I may) about the horses this guide teaches you to build.

It really is all in the details; whoever wrote this guide really did their work and you can sense the true passion they have for woodworking.

The basis of this rocking horse plan that differentiates it from the others is the idea of the rocking horse becoming a family heirloom. The author’s goal is to build a horse that will be passed down for generations, which means building a rocking horse that is meant to last centuries without breaking or decomposing.

The reason this wooden rocking horse plan is so different from the previous ones is because it is less of a step-by-step manual, but more of a loose guide meant to steer you in the right direction. This plan is best left for advanced woodworkers since you need to have the chops to really pull this one off.

A memorable quote from the article is “I want you to give the children in your life not only better toys, but better memories”. If you hope to do the same and have the woodworking talent, then you are the woodworker the author wrote this for.

The rocking horse being built here will take much more time than the other plans, but the result will be not just a piece of woodworking, but a real sentimental object that will stand the test of time. This plan encourages you to personalize your rocking horse, thus making it unique to all the others out there. I recommend doing this in some small way that does not involve the basic structure of the horse, unless you are an experienced woodworker and feel comfortable with changing that aspect of the guide.

Most of the other rocking horse plans say to use whatever wood you have lying around or is available to you in your region. This guide is different. Instead, an entire chapter is based around what wood is best used for a wooden rocking horse. If you can get your hands on it, the author cites black cherry or red oak. While wood of this quality is more expensive than others, the durability is reflective of price- you get what you pay for.

To achieve the finished rocking horse that this guide aims for, it also requires careful and skilled use of the necessary tools. The better you complete these steps, the nicer rocking horse you end up with.

As mentioned, this wooden rocking horse plan is not for the faint of heart. It is also not for those who want to pull off a cheap build. If you want a horse that will truly last, then make sure to put in the time and money that this guide requires of you.

If you do, you are sure to make a horse that will not only bring joy to others but will be an emblem of personal achievement in your woodworking career.

 

Final Words

 

The wooden rocking horse remains a popular project for woodworkers everywhere due to the simplicity but also because the finished horse is incredibly satisfying. As woodworkers, we know what it’s like to make something with your hands that becomes a true testament to our passion for our craft.

It doesn’t matter who your rocking horse is intended for, a child’s gift or just a personal woodworking venture. The wooden rocking horse is a great way to test your hands and devote your time to finishing a project that excites not only you but others as well.