Woah, big fella!

Back in late 1999, I was still just a budding novice woodworker (sometimes it’s tough to tell that I have improved any), I wanted to build a new project. I think this was my third. But, what to build? I had already built something for my wife.

There was also someone else who was very special in my house – my oldest (and my only at the time) son Dominic. I had already missed the window to build him a cradle. I could have built something practical like a bookshelf, but where’s the fun in that?  That’s when I decided on a rocking horse.  And, I think it’s safe to say that the client was pleased.

Fast forward a dozen years. Marc Spagnuolo is running a charity build where he’s donating $1 for every completed rocking horse plan that is built.  I have been building a rocking horse or cradle to donate to a local pregnancy crisis center every holiday season. And, that little boy who loved his rocking horse so much has been bugging me to get more shop time.

Thus, a plan was born.

So, this weekend, Dominic and I went to the nearby Lowe’s to pick up a glued up project panel and the other supplies. And, we had to make two trips to the local print shop to get the plans enlarged to the right size.  Apparently, 200% in one FedEx store doesn’t mean 200%.  But, Emily at the local shop was able to get everything printed up nicely, and we were off to the races.

Since Dominic had used a jigsaw in his tech class at school, he wanted to show off his mad skillz. So, we spray mounted the plans to the board, and Dominic got right to work with my jig saw. First, he cut off the parts of the board that we had drawn out the smaller parts of the project on. I took those over to the band saw and made those cuts while Dominic cut out the sides of the horse outline.  We were using my holdfasts to keep the board down to the bench, and he was VERY energetic using the mallet to snug them down.

After we cut things out, I broke out my Ridgid spindle/belt sander, and we started smoothing out the rough cuts.  And, they were pretty rough, but that’s what the sander was for!  Dominic took to the sander with skill. I watched him closely at first, but he was so good, I was able to back off and take a few pictures.

Did we get as far as we wanted to today? Nope. Dom had the idea we were going to have a fully assembled horse waiting for a finish on it. Ehh, what we do have is a stack of edge sanded, cut out pieces ready to have pilot holes drilled, surfaces sanded and finish applied.

Dominic left the shop sweaty, covered in dust and energized by the build. I left with the pride a father feels when his son grows up and finds the joy in working with his hands. My buttons were bursting. It brought a tear to my eye…

Hey, Marc and Nicole… Having an infant is a great thing, and you will enjoy every minute of parenting a little one. But, when they get old enough to work in the shop… that’s when it gets GOOD!


9 thoughts on “Woah, big fella!”

  1. Love the picture of Dominic on the rocking horse. This is a great cause and it is great that you were able to get your son involved. I know we have all said many times how we feel it is important to have the next generation carry on woodworking, and it still warms my heart to seeing kids learning and enjoying time in the shop with pops.

    Keep up the good work Tom, I appreciate you.

  2. Dominic is lucky to have a dad like you Tom.
    I bet that horse turns out great!
    (I bet the scene in that old picture feels like yesterday. I remember walking around all day at Disney with my son on my shoulders as easy as pie. Now he is almost a foot taller then me!)

  3. Thanks, Chris. I showed that picture to Rhonda, and she started to tear up. They do grow up so fast. I just want to make sure they grow up the right way!

  4. The horse is looking great Tom! My son is 6 (that time has flown!), and I’m looking forward to having him in the shop more when he gets a bit older, and a bit calmer ;-)… He did help me apply some stain to a table I built for him recently (he globbed some on, and i wiped off excess). Hmm… maybe I’ll see if he wants to do some more of that on the smaller pieces of the rocking horse I’m working on.

  5. So awesome Tom! I can only hope my boy has some interest in woodworking. If not, I’ll still love him. But it would be cool if he is into it. Congrats on the horse build and on raising a budding woodworker. 🙂

  6. Looking good Tom! I am building 3 and a fellow St Pete Woodworker’s Guild Member is building 1 with me. We are going to raffle off the extras and combine any proceeds to donate to the Woodworkers fighting Cancer charity as well.

    We still have the one I built for our youngest son sitting in our dinning room. It was built in 1988.

  7. Great story Tom. I’v e already submitted my horse to Marc for the build and gave it to a sweet little girl this weekend. Her mother is a good friend of the family. Every now and then my boys like to get in the shop with me. It’s an awesome feeling.

  8. Don’t forget that some girls love to work along side their Pops! Doll furniture might be a way to get them interested. I just wanted to be with my Pop and my Uncle, they loved to work with wood, my Uncle more than my Pop, but they both had patience and I learned to love the smell of sawdust in the air the hum of sanders and the sweet sound that a handsaw makes on a fine grade of wood. My “shop” is a portion of a 2 car garage, main tool is the scroll saw, I have most all of the Dremel tools as I play with making Barbie size furniture, wood toys and small things until I can purchase a bandsaw and other tools that I hope to add to the shop.
    Ask your daughters, they may surprise you!!

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