The Southern Maryland Carousel Group, Inc.

Copyright © The Southern Maryland Carousel Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Next transfer the leg drawings to the wood.  The main part of the leg is usually done in two pieces which requires a joint of some type.  Be careful here to insure you have the grain of the wood running in the long direction.  You can use dowel pins at these joints or use a lap joint.  When you have the main stems of the legs cut out you then will need to add wood to those portions that need to be thicker, i.e., thighs, knees, ankles, and hoof areas.  Usually one inch material will suffice.

Carve and finish each of these pieces before proceeding.  Insure that all pieces are smooth where they will join the body.

Now you are ready to build the body.  Depending on the size of your animal the width should be 8 to 11 inches wide.  It should be 10 to 12 inches in depth top board to bottom board.  If you lay your body pattern out in two inch increments you can determine the width of the side board.  Cut your bottom board and side boards to length and proper width.  Using your pattern cut the ends (rump and chest area) to match the profile.  Glue the side board to the top edge of the bottom board at a right angle.  Make sure this angle is proper.  Use a carpenters square to insure you have a right angle.  Use a brace if necessary to insure a good angle.  Next you need to determine the width of the pieces to fill in the ends of the box.  After the first angle is dry, set the other side board on top of the bottom board and measure the distance between the two.  Cut pieces about 7 inches long to fill the are ain front and the rear.  The end grain will be out on these pieces.  This keeps the grain on all the wood in the body running the same direction.  Glue these pieces in place following the curvature of the animals chest and rump.  Make sure all surfaces are glued.  Clamp and wipe any excess glue away and let dry.  Next glue on the other side board. The top board should be a little shorter than the bottom board because of the curvature of the rump and chest.  Glue on the top board.

Next you need to determine the location of the pole.  It should be centered on the width of the body and slightly behind the head.  Generally 16 to 17 inches back from the chest.  Drill a two inch hold one inch deep at this point.  Drill the hole the rest of the way through 1-3/8 inch.  Turn the body over and determine exactly where the hole on the bottom should be and rill a 1-3/8 hole.  Top and bottom holes must align.

Next you should glue on a saddle block and a belly board.  You may have to drill the 1-3/8 inch hole in the belly board also. Do this while everything is square.
You are now ready to attach the neck and head to the top of the body and the legs to the bottom of the body.  Do this temporarily for now using 3-1/2 inch screws put in at an angle on the neck and legs. Transfer your trappings from the pattern and start shaping the body and carving in the trappings.  After all the carving is complete remove the screws and glue all parts together.  Use the screws again to hold everything in place until dry.  Remove the screws again and replace with 1/2 inch dowels.

Using your pattern, cut out and carve the tail.  Drill out the tail piece where it joins the body and glue in a one inch dowel leaving about three inches sticking out. Drill a one inch hole in the rump and glue in the tail.

At this point you should build a base and obtain a five-foot piece of black pipe and a floor flange to fit.  Obtain a second floor flange that will slide over the pipe.  Attach the second flange to the bottom of the animal.  If your animal is a stander, please it on the platform and run the pipe down through the animal, attach floor flange and bolt to platform.  Drill a hole through the flange attached to the bottom of the animal and through the pipe; secure with a bolt.
Finish carving as necessary and sand the entire animal smooth.  Apply a coat of white primer paint, let dry and sand any rough areas.  Paint on a second coat of primer and lightly sand until smooth.

If you need to fill any area, use a product called tuf-carve.  Eyes can be obtained from taxidermy supply catalogs.  Generally use coloration of your choice in 29mm size.

You are now ready to paint; use either oils or acrylic.  Acrylic is a little easier to use and clean up.  After painting is complete brush on a couple coats of clear coat.


The first thing is to determine the style carousel animal you want to carve.  Will it be a stander or a jumper?  A jumper has all four legs up off a platform; a stander has at least three feet on the platform.  Next, determine the position of the head; will it be a stargazer or one with its head drawn back like someone is pulling back on the reins.

Draw a sketch of the animal with all the trappings in place.  All the drawings should be of the right side of the animal; this is the most decorative side.  Once you have a sketch you will need to draw a full scale working drawing.  This is a one-dimensional drawing.  A full sized drawing could be 32 to 48 inches from rump to chest.  Size is determined by the position of the animal on a carousel.  Outside row animals are larger than those on the inside row.  Make sure everything is proportional.

Material used in an animal is usually two inches thick, random width.  Most commonly used wood is kiln dried basswood. Tools required will be band-saw, table saw, various clamps, glue, (recommend Tite-bond II or III), planer, joiner, and a variety of gouges.

Once  your drawing is complete you are now ready to transfer the drawing to the wood.  The head and neck are two separate pieces.  Transfer the head pattern to the wood, you will need to cut out four two-inch thick pieces for the head.  Make the ears two separate pieces.  Glue the head pieces up.  While they are drying cut out and glue up the neck.  On both pieces it is important to align the head pieces and neck pieces where they will join. Also align the neck pieces where they join the body. Allow extra wood on three of the pieces (right side) for the mane.