If you are planning a pony themed party, stick horses are that final touch that can have the kids ooo’ing and the parents ahhh’ing. Depending on your taste and the depth of your wallet, this can be an expensive touch. You can get blow up vinyl stick horses for about $4 each. These are very economical and just require someone blow them up. Plush stick horses can be found for an average of about $20-$30 each.
As we looked at stick horse after stick horse, we concluded that we really liked the look of a classic wooden stick horse. After an exhaustive search and finding absolutely nothing that we loved that was within our budget, we knew we had to think outside the box. (The wooden stick horses that we found online for purchase ranged from a low of $40 to a high of about $120 EACH!!) Soooooo not in the budget. We decided it was time for dad to put on the tools and mass-produce some really cool heirloom-style stick horses for about $4 each. Although we were lucky enough to have a wonderful aunt and uncle who let Bob use their very hooked-up wood shop to make them, his prototype was crafted at home with standard homeowner tools. It was just as nice, it just took a little longer to make.
I’m letting Bob take the reins (haha, reins, get it?) and walk you through this tutorial.
Here we go!
Your material list:
:: 2×10 lumber (you need 12″ of length for each one. If you’re just making one or two look on the cut/clearance rack)
:: A wooden dowel (I used a 7/8″ x 48″ and cut it in half)
:: A traditional mop (Dollar store score and I was able to get two horses out of each one)
:: String or Twine for making the halter
:: Stick on Eyes (I found mine at the dollar store as well for a pack of 100)
:: Black plastic (I used plastic 3 ring binder dividers from Walmart) for ears
:: Staple gun
:: Wood Glue
How to make:
First cut your 2×10 into 12″ long pieces.
Then draw your horse head shape. Keep it simple, it will save you a lot of time to not have a lot of detail when it comes to sanding. I used a long kidney shape. I used a sawzall to cut my first one. It worked, but I had to use a wood file to clean it up before sandpaper. I was able to use a band saw at the shop, but a jigsaw would give a good clean cut as well.
If you have a planer and drum sander, USE THEM (this is where you will spend the most time on this entire project)! Otherwise, get some sandpaper, a few adult beverages and plop down in front of a TV. Sand away. You can use wood files to knock down the edges and save a little time. You can also cut your dowel in half and sand them down as well. My dowels were 24″ long.
Drill a hole in the bottom of the head. You want the hole to be about 1 1/2 to 2″ deep and as straight as possible. You also want the dowel to be tight, so be sure to use the right bit. Apply some wood glue and install the dowel (having to knock in the dowel with a hammer is ideal). If you make the hole a little too big, you can fill the gap with wood glue and drive a small finish nail through each side of the head to lock it in place. Be sure to sink the nail completely and that it doesn’t protrude out the other side. Let the glue cure.
Use string or twine for a halter. You can get fancy, and tack some leather on, but it is more costly and time consuming. I used a nylon twine I found at the dollar store. Here is a crude drawing of how I tied it. I did this before the mane, because I was able to hide the knot under the mop strings.
STEP 1: Loop the string so that one end is about 12-18 inches longer
STEP 2: Hold the loop end on one side of the nose
STEP 3: Run the other end over the top of the nose, down the other side, under the bottom and then through the loop. Pull the long and short ends towards the back of the head.
STEP 4: Leave the short end at the back of the head. Take the long end around the back of the head and towards the nose. Run it under the string on the nose and then back to the back of the neck.
STEP 5: Tie a knot and staple the knot to the back of the neck
Take apart your mop head and remove all of the strings. You could use yarn, but I liked the texture of the mop strings. Staple one strand just above the eye, the strand should be running from the forehead, along the top and down the back.
Next, lay 5 pieces of string across the head, pull your stapled string across them and staple it again. Keep repeating this. I used 30 strings for each horse, stapling every five strands.
After all the strands are secured, tie each of the cross strands in a knot around the staples strand. This hides the stapled strand and secures the cross strands. Trim the first 3-5 above the eyes to about 2 inches long. Trim the rest as desired.
Cut the plastic into rounded cone shapes. Fold it in half and staple it just behind the bangs (or forelock if you’re using technical horsey terms)
Install the eye. I used a hot glue gun, because my dollar store eyes wouldn’t stick very well.
Be creative on displaying them. I took an 8′ piece of 4″ white plumbing PVC pipe and drilled 1″ holes all the way through every 6″. I put the pipe on jump standards and stuck the sticks in each hole. This also gave the kids a place to put their horses while they were doing activities.