How to Build a Child's Wooden Rocking Horse

Add to your old-fashioned Christmas with this wooden rocking horse. Follow these step-by-step instructions.



carpenter's pencil
jigsaw with smooth wood-cutting blade
palm sander
table saw
utility knife (for trimming excess edge banding and dividing mop-head)
clean, dry lint-free rags
paint trays
small arm paint roller and small roller pad
finish nail gun
miter saw
drill motor with 1-inch spade bit attachment
upholstery stapler


1 sheet of 3/4" oak veneered plywood
220-grit sanding discs
2x6 redwood board
4x4 scrap wood
3/4" oak edge banding
stain (Safecoat Durocoat Walnut and Mahogany)
low VOC water-based polyurethane
urethane glue
finish nails
wood putty
cotton mop-head
10 tea bags
pan with 2 quarts of water
6-inches of 1-inch diameter wooden dowel
upholstery staples


1. Sketch the horse head and rocker shapes onto the plywood.

2. Use the jigsaw to cut the shapes out in two solid pieces. Use a sander to smooth out any imperfections.

3. Clamp the first rocker side to the remaining sheet of plywood and trace the other half. Remove the clamps and cut out the shape with the jigsaw. Sand where needed.

4. Use the jigsaw to cut three 2x18-inch strips from the plywood to serve as rocker braces. Next, cut the shape of your seat from the 2x6 redwood.

5. Adjust the table saw to 11 degrees and rip both sides of the 4x4. This creates the backbone to set the two halves of the rocking horse at the proper angle and give you something to attach the seat and tail to.

6. Iron 3/4-inch edge banding onto the sides of all the plywood pieces.

7. Stain all of the pieces with a clean, dry rag. For this project, he applied a 50/50 stain mixture of Walnut and Mahogany. Once dry, finish the pieces by rolling on three coats of water-based polyurethane, according to the manufacturer's instructions.


8. Glue and nail one side of the horse to the backbone. Stand it up and nail the other side in place. Slide the neck of your horse head into the joint of the ripped 4x4. Glue and nail into place.

9. Nail the three 2x18-inch strips between the rockers to reinforce the piece. Cut them to fit and add a slight bevel to the edge with the miter saw, set at 11 degrees.

10. Set the seat onto the rocking horse back where the boards meet and secure into place with a nail gun. Fill nail holes with wood putty.

11. Stain the mop-head by seeping it in a strong batch of tea made from approximately 10 bags in two quarts of boiling water.

12. While the mop is being stained, drill a 1-inch hole into the head of the horse and insert the dowel. Make sure it fits snugly by making a test hole on a scrap piece first. Glue the dowel in place securing with urethane glue.

13. Attach the mop onto the main and tail sections of the horse, securing with an upholstery stapler.

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