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A carousel animal is essentially a thick hollow box with thick stumps coming out of it as legs and a hollow neck holding on a head, which can also be hollow. The smaller your animal is, the less hollowness you will be building into it, unless you really want to focus on this aspect. There are really no limitations on what you can create with this basic method. This method is a combination of what is traditionally called "coffin" construction (the body) and stack lamination construction (the head and neck). Depending on the shape of your animal, you might want to use more or less of one of these methods. The stack lamination, with careful shape cutting with the bandsaw, can also be used for the body instead of the box construction, this is especially suited to menagerie animals such as a whale, salmon, rooster, etc.
The coffin construction technique is great for the long horse body and other similar applications. The stack lamination technique is ideal for the head, neck (stacked sideways in this instance) and any very curved designs and animals (i.e. a hippocampus, stacked horizontally), it is possible to construct the whole animal using only the stack method. Leg construction is the same for both methods although the attaching joint to the body may vary. In this guide the coffin type body used on most carousel horses will be our model, the stacked lamination method will be discussed mainly in relation to the head and neck, applying this to the whole body would be a extension of these same techniques.
Carpenter's wood glue is used to hold all of this together, I use Titebond II for exterior uses, regular aliphatic resin glue is good and is fine for regular interior use. Each time before gluing, going through a dry assembly run without the glue is always a good idea. When gluing, put on a medium amount of glue with a spreader of some sort, rigid or soft like a brush, and spread it out thinly and evenly being sure that all of the surfaces have glue. It is all right if a small amount of glue squeezes out of the sides when clamping, this indicates complete gluing, avoid large out-pourings of glue in this way, that means that you are over gluing, in this case I will mop up the excess glue and drop it back into the glue container.
Using dowels to help pin pieces together is traditional. They can either be done internally ahead of gluing and not seen at all, or done after the parts are assembled and glued by drilling and pounding them in like wooden nails. Dowels will age and work with the wood nicely. Screws and nails on the other hand, were also used, but mainly only on repairs done by park maintenance personnel. The metal of a screw or nail will attract moisture into the animal and with time will cause the wood around the screw or nail to rot. Galvanization will slow this down by minimizing the rust problem, but the moisture and rot will still come. Stick to wooden dowels and glue as much as possible. Sometime I use biscuits to join together certain pieces, they work well. Note: Over all, with the high quality of glue today and good clamping techniques, almost no dowels are needed at all to put together an animal, possibly only when attaching legs or fins or ears, etc.
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