Horsies (Binky and Roci)

In late 2021, I wanted to create a rocking horse for my then-15-month-old nephew, Finnegan, because I hadn’t made him a toy yet (in my defense, I had just gotten out of the hospital) and a rocking horse seemed fun. I wanted plans because I hadn’t built any toys designed to bear a child’s weight before, and wanted the guidance—but many online plans for rocking horses seemed designed to build a product far too complex and overwrought for my tastes.

See, e.g.

I eventually found John Michael Linck’s book on the subject, which had exactly the aesthetic I was looking for. In addition to being an excellent toy designer, he is also, in his words, a production woodworker who optimizes for simplicity of construction; accordingly, he uses techniques like exposed dowel joinery which make the horse easy to assemble, and (to my eye, at least) add to the beauty of the finished product. The book of instructions is free, but paying $10 for his cut templates is entirely worth it.

For Finnegan, I built the horse in hard maple, with walnut dowels. As (therefore) a pale horse, I naturally thought to name it after Death’s horse (since Death rides a pale horse): Binky. My sister (Finnegan’s mother, and not a Pratchett fan) hates that I named the horse after Death’s horse, and refuses to use that name, instead calling it “Trigger” (after our mother’s horse when she was a child).

Binky's head, fresh from the (new for this project) scroll saw Binky in pieces Binky, finished but sans tail

In late 2023, I decided to build another for Afton (my son). For Afton, I built the horse in walnut, with walnut dowels. Due both to attempting to move too fast, and due to a remarkably cold December (for Seattle) causing glueup failures, this time around the horse fought me all the way; I had to glue every joint two and sometimes three times, I had obnoxious problems with alignment, I had a series of obvious flaws that even necessitated adding reins to the horse to cover some of the more egregious failures to joint well, and saddlebags to cover a drill excursion event. Accordingly, since the horse was a nag throughout its construction, but would now be the finest of horses for my son, I named the horse Rocinante, or Roci for short—since the (four hundred year) old puns are the best. :-)

Roci, assembled but unfinished Roci, first coat of finish Roci, complete Roci with rider