Rocking Dino – Completed

Well the monkey (or dinosaur) is finally off my back just in time for my son’s birthday. Over the weekend I touched up the paint in Ralph’s mouth and added the eye paint, finally finishing up the second dinosaur. Overall I am happy with the results, especially the green rockers (thanks for the suggestion Brook).


The construction on Ralph is a bit better than Dino since I figured out the best way to do things such has fitting the tail cross piece or painting the eyes (using an eye dropper for the white made it a lot easier). That said, Dino’s paint job is a bit smother than Ralph’s due to project fatigue a  nd the rapidly approaching deadline; that said, I don’t think the customer minds.


Rocking Dino – One Down

It was a VERY productive weekend; I managed to complete Dino and I got Ralph very close to done as well. Dino got a spray-paint coat of red to the inside of his mouth and I painted the eyes using Tesoro Enamel sampler pack from Amazon (it was cheaper than getting a jar of black and a jar of white); the act of painting the eyes brought me back to my plastic model building days of my childhood. The red in the sampler kit was also a perfect match for the red spray paint so I used it to touch up a few dry spots in Dino’s mouth. The one mistake was painting the pupils before the whites so I did get some black bleeding into the white.

Ralph's Green rockers
Ralph’s Green rockers


Progress on Ralph was also good. The rockers got their green paint so they will have plenty of time to cure. I also allied a coat of primer to the body and let is cure overnight before painting the handles, cross piece, and the inside of the mouth (this is a change in order for Ralph as I realized pre-paining the mouth would make things easier). I also used a flux brush to apply a heavy coat of red deep inside the teeth where the spray-paint could not reach. At this point some thin filler was applied to some small defects which the paint showed and the body was sanded to remove any raised grain or paint globs.

Since dinosaurs may have had brightly colored feathers this may be an accurate paint-job.

I taped off the handles, cross piece, and the inside of the mouth and four coats of blue later things are looking pretty good. Next weekend I just need to paint the eyes (whites first this time) and touch up the mouth and I will be all done with this project.

Note the cross piece is green for Ralph
Note the cross piece is green for Ralph

In between coats of paint of Ralph I added one more tool rack to the wall near my bench to tame my drills and mallets. It was a scrap piece of red alder left over from the entertainment center build and some ½ inch dowel pieces. The dowel holes are drilled at an angle which will hopefully keep the tools in place next time the ground decides to do some salsa dancing.


Rocking Dino – Fixing Mistakes

Sunday, Dino got two more coats of navy blue paint and is looking pretty nice; all that is left is painting the inside of the mouth and the eyes and he will be good to go. Ralph is another story……

In between coats of paint, I worked to get Ralph assembled as the final step before sanding and painting. I cut out the tail cross piece, notched the tail to hold the block (I did a much better job this time and the fit is pretty good), and screwed it onto the tail. I then clamped one of the rockers to the right leg in the appropriate place and attached the cross piece using pocket screws and then attached the other rockers in same manner. I then used some smaller, shorter screws to temporarily attach the rockers to the legs; everything looked great and it rocked smoothly.

The trouble came when I flipped it over on the bench to take it back apart; I noticed there was a gap between one of the feet and the corresponding rocker, which could only mean that something was not lined up properly as both legs and rockers are identical. A few quick checks with the combination square confirmed the problem, one of the legs was ¼” farther forward that the other and 1/8” shorter (relative to the belly); this was introducing a significant twist into the rockers which was amplified over their length.

The corrected lengths.
The corrected lengths.

I decided to re-sand the leg bottoms on the oscillating spindle sander in order to get them back into the correct position. I marked out the corrected lengths on the legs and added the curve off the original pattern.

Poor Ralph spent the night in this undignified position.
Poor Ralph spent the night in this undignified position.

A few minutes on the sander got me close but I will make the final adjustments tonight after I get home.

Rocking Dino – Finishing Part 2

A good chunk of the weekend was spent putting some finish on Dino, the prototype rocking dinosaur. I moved the car to the driveway and set up a painting station in the garage (I had plenty of cross ventilation, a fan running, and I wore a chemical respirator). After taping off the black handles and cross piece, I applied two coats of blue to the underside (waiting 30 minutes between coats). I then flipped it over and started to apply the first coat to the topside, unfortunately my can of spray paint ran out in the middle of it and this was 6 pm on Saturday night so the nearby Ace hardware (paint was Ace brand) was already closed. This particular paint says to re-coat within 2 hours or after 5 days so finishing the blue paint will have to wait until next weekend.

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I did manage to finish Dino’s rockers; after hanging them from old wire hangers, I applied a coat to each with spray polyurethane and hung them up to dry. After two hours I rubbed out the dust nibs with a “between finishing coats” sanding pad and applied a second coat before leaving them to dry overnight.

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The next morning I got up early and sanded them both with 220paper and applied a third coat, running out of spray right at the end (theme for the weekend). Luckily we were heading to the hardware store for lumber to build out a bedroom closet so I was able to apply the fourth coat in the afternoon. I’m going to let them cure for a few days then apply a coat of wax but I was able to set the pieces together to get an idea of how they will look in the end.

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I can’t decide if I like the contrast between the dark painted body and the light colored maple; the other choice would be to paint them.   One of my friends suggested green so it would look like the dinosaur was walking through the grass and the book painted them black so I made a couple of mockups; right now I am leaning towards green. Let me know your opinions in the comments, I still need to pick a finishing plan for Ralph.

Green Dino Black Dino

Brief Update 2015-02-24

It was a nice weekend in the mountains but we did not get home until late Sunday night and unfortunately work has kept me busy the past two nights putting together a pitch for an interesting project. I did sneak down to the garage for a bit last night (after a 4.5 hour conference call that ended at 8pm).

I started to make the chamfer on the front of my Moxon vise. These will be stopped chamfers with lamb’s tongues at the transitions. The Alaska Woodworker and Chris Schwarz have nice tutorials on pulling this together. After laying out the curves I made the first but with my backsaw and then chiseled out the first part. Chis uses a cooping saw to remove most of the waste but unfortunately mine has died and the replacement has not arrived, Alaska Woodworker used a draw knife which I don’t have, I decided to just use a spoke shave (this was a mistake); it is going to take be a long time to remove the material.


I also added so filler to some defects that appeared on Dino after applying the primer. Hopefully I will sand these down tonight and apply a bit more primer to those areas.

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Rocking Dino – Finishing Part 1


I had a long Sunday morning of sanding and shaping and Dino’s rockers have a coat of oil and the body has a coat of primer (on Friday we named the pair, Dino is the prototype and Ralf is the second one).

First I trimmed the throat plug and did one last test fit to drill the tail blocks attachment holes.


Then after sanding by hand from 100 down to 180 I applied a coat of boiled linseed oil and set them on the shelf to cure for the next week.


After a short break I tackled the body shaping. I had applied a bit of filler in the low spots the previous night so I pulled out my rasps and smoothed the transitions between the various body parts and then sanded everything down to 180 (unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the neck transition before primer). After a coat of primer it is clear I have a couple of areas that need some extra filler and some sanding so I will let it cure for a couple of days before sanding it down.

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I still had a bit of energy left so I did some work on my Moxon vise handles. I decided the cut them a bit shorter and make them into octagons rather than making them round.

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Then I epoxied them in place.


Rocking Dino – Arms, Eyes, and Ears (or Handles)

When I got home from work last night I discovered that the hard maple dowel I ordered from Rockler had arrived and it was noticeably stiffer and more solid feeling that the poplar one from the hardware store. After the kiddo went to bed I headed to the garage and cut two handles and rounded out the arm tips on the oscillating spindle sander.


Next it was time for a tracheotomy; a screw will hold the handle in place. Unfortunately my aim was a bit off but I managed to find the handle hole.


I still need some longer screws so the handle did not get installed but I did get the rounded over dowels installed for the pupils.

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I have one goal this weekend, to get the prototype dinosaur body primed and get the rockers coated with boiled linseed oil. That means a lot of sanding will need to happen this weekend.