Grampa and Daphne

Building a tradition from an old oak.

SHOP OWNER: Richard King

    I live in Salem, South Carolina on 35 acres of property that is part of about 150 acres that has been in my wifeís family for over 100 years. In 2002, a local one-man sawmill operator called and informed me that two large oak trees had died on my property and wanted to know if he could have them. After a little negotiation, I agreed to give him one of the trees if he would cut up the other one for me.
Milled Oak Lumber

    At the announcement of my first grandchild, I thought it would be a great idea to build a cradle from the family oak tree for the new arrival. Later, when I realized that her first birthday was right around the corner, I decided to build a rocking horse from the same lumber. In hopes of passing these items to future generations, I had a plaque made for each. The plaque reads: Made from an oak tree on family property in Salem, SC for my grandchildren and the generations to follow. I also attached a smaller plaque with the name and birth date of the first grandchild, with hopes that the tradition will carry on long after I leave this earth.
Daphne Asleep in Her Cradle

    The cradle was the most challenging project I have attempted. Cutting out most of the pieces was relatively simple and straightforward but sanding each of the ribs that make up the sides to be consistent was a little challenging. Often people ask how I bent the wood for the sides but just about any woodworker would understand that each curved rib was cut from a flat piece of wood on a bandsaw. However, I do enjoy making up elaborate stories of how I bent the wood until it gets so ridiculous that itís obvious Iím pulling their leg.
Oak Rocking Horse

    The major challenge was there were 34 individual pieces to glue all at once. The challenge was to find a glue that wood give me the time to assemble all the pieces and get everything square before it started to set up. I finally settled on epoxy glue with a 90-minute cure time. I was a nervous wreck trying to get it just right before the glue started to set up. The finish on the cradle is wipe-on polyurethane.
Close-Up View

    The rocking horse was not as challenging as the cradle but I did elect to modify the original plans. The plans called for a wooden mane and tail and did not include stirrups. I used a standard round mop head for the tail and a flat type mop head for the mane. I think the mop adds a lot of character to the project. I used a solid piece of oak that I cut out on the bandsaw for the stirrups. I found eyes at a local taxidermist that worked out great. The finish on the horse is spray-on polyurethane.

. . . Richard King



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