Craft a Sweet ‘n Swedish Rolling Dala Horse Toy

How-To
Swedish Dala Horse on wheels is delightfully decorative

Swedish Dala Horse on wheels is delightfully decorative.

As far back as I can possibly remember, I’ve loved Dalas. Every holiday, we’d visit one of our aunts’ houses, and one of the first things I’d look for was that quirky patterned horse.

As a little girl, I learned they symbolized family…sigh.

Historically, Dalas, (or Dalahäst in Swedish), were mostly used as toys for children. Eventually, they became Sweden’s national symbol and an important item for barter.

See Also: Make a Flag of Wood to Show Off Your Heritage 

What I absolutely LOVE about these wooden statuettes is that they were originally hand-carved out of scraps from furniture making.

Umm…okay! We’re talking the most awesome example of reusing and repurposing! Bom!

So, when it came time to celebrate my new baby cousin’s first birthday, I knew I wanted to start her off on the right foot (or, in this case, wheel!) and craft her her very first Dala horse. I, of course, had to reuse wood from my scrap bin to make it authentic. I then added a little something extra and functional: wheels!

Supplies:

• 3/4″ pine or plywood (or 1 1/2″ pine or plywood)

Dala stencil (you can also google lots of different Dala designs)

• wood glue (I used Gorilla Glue)

• jigsaw or scroll saw (preferably a table jig or scroll saw for cleaner edges)

• drill w/bits

• sandpaper (medium coarse – P60 and fine – P120 for finishing)

• (4) wooden wheels (available at Michaels)

• (4) 1 3/8″ wood axle pegs (also available at Michaels)

• assorted paint colors

• small paint brushes

Instructions:

1. Print and cut out stencil, then trace onto your wood.

Print, cut out then trace Dala shape onto wood

Print, cut out then trace Dala shape onto wood.

2. Cut out then sand the edges of your Dala. First use the medium coarse sandpaper, then the fine to finish nicely. You reeeeeeally want this wood to be smoooooooooth.

Cut out the shape of your Dala

Cut out the shape of your Dala, then sand smooth.

3. Transfer a paintable template onto the wood: (a) first darkly pencil over every line on the RIGHT side of the paper stencil, (b) flip it over and fit it perfectly onto your cut out Dala, then (c) darkly pencil again over every line on the BACK side of the paper stencil. The pencil on the front will now be transferred onto your wood.

Darkly pencil over each line on the right side of your stencil

Darkly pencil over each line on the right side of your stencil.

Darkly pencil in the lines on the back side of your stencil

Darkly pencil in the lines on the back side of your stencil.

4. Drill holes for the wood axle pegs.

TIP: Be sure to FIRST test the size of your drill holes on a piece of scrap wood. Drill, then try to insert an axle peg. It should fit snugly. 

Test drill size on scrap wood

Test drill size on scrap wood.

Drill holes for axle pegs

Drill holes for axle pegs.

5. (If you’re using two (2) 3/4″ pieces…) Glue two sides together. Be sure to allow the glue to dry, between 1 -3 hours before attaching the wheels.

Wood glue will do the trick

Wood glue will do the trick.

Glue together your two Dala sides - be sure to glue the right sides!

Glue together your two Dala sides – be sure to glue together the right sides!

6. Attach axle pegs and wheels. Insert the peg through your wheel, then squirt a dab of wood glue inside the drill hole. Gently hammer in the peg using a rubber mallet.

TIP: mark a line in pencil on your axel to show how deep to hammer in the peg.

7. Paint both sides of your Dala. Have fun and get STUPID!

Paint on your design

Paint on your design.

I used this Rosemaling design as an inspiration for my pattern and color:

Rosmaling Kurbits design

Rosemaling Kurbits design…my inspiration!

Du är klar! Grattis!

Sweet Swedish Dala horse keeps other decor company

Sweet Swedish Dala horse keeps other decor pieces company.

The Dala's tail is very important to include

The Dala’s tail is very important to include.

Cousins Pam, baby Raelyn and daddy Aaron welcomes a new Dala into the family

Cousins Pam, baby Raelyn and daddy Aaron welcomes their new Dala into the family. Happy first birthday, Rae!

Do you have a decorative symbol that represents your heritage?

All photography by Skaie Knox, HomeJelly

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Written By Skaie Knox

Skaie Knox is a storyteller on a quest to provide sparkling content through copywriting, songwriting and video production. She is founder of HomeJelly, Ruggable.com's key copywriter, a published singer/songwriter (Fervor Records/ASCAP) and kid's book author (Big Bug Lunch!). For doable DIY video tutorials, subscribe to her HomeJelly YouTube channel (for link, click on my nose!).