uilding a rocking horse was more than a way to keep busy on long winter evenings. It was the fulfillment of a dream that I had cherished for years before I was a father. My wife, Darlene, and I have been blessed with one son, Nathan, and one daughter, Melissa. Nathan’s first birthday present was to be a rocking horse, hand-made by his dad.

As his birthday drew near, I started the project and soon found that Nathan was engrossed with the building process itself. So I took him to my shop every night where he watched me from his stroller. Hour after hour, he jabbered away and watched intently until the magic moment each evening when his eyes became too heavy to stay open. After he fell asleep it was I who enjoyed looking at him, inspired by his presence. Creating something is rewarding in itself, but creating something for your own child is a special treat.

The concept of a glider rocking horse came from observing the silky-smooth, silent action of glider rocking chairs. The glider rocker is easy for small tots to get moving on all types of floors. The one concern that I had, though, was that the scissor action of the swing-arms could prove dangerous for a young child. This prompted me to incorporate minimum clearances between the swing-arms and the parts next to them into my design. Several times throughout the project I dis­carded and re-did the parts to make sure everything was absolutely right.

The part of the project that I enjoyed the most was carving the shape of the horse, especially the head. This is where the horse took on “life.” The parts that Nathan enjoyed were the final touches—the painting, the saddle, and the halter. This made it look like a real horse that would be fun to ride.

I managed to finish the horse in time for Nathan’s birthday, and he loved it. He rode his horse every day and proudly told anyone who asked that “My Daddy made it for me.” Over months and then years, Nathan continued to ride his pony. At about eight months of age, Melissa joined in the fun.

The horse has been ridden and enjoyed inside and outside our home for sev­en years now and will always be cherished as part of our family memories. Somehow when you build a toy for your child, it is so different than just buying one. Happy building!




Johannes Michelsen tips his

Updated: March 3, 2016 — 11:27 am