DIY Rainbow Rocker

19th January 2014

I wanted to do a special handmade gift for Claire’s upcoming birthday since I was jonesing for a new project now that our kitchen’s mostly finished. Naturally, I  went to my pinterest boards for ideas and came across this pin. The rainbow rocker retails for only 139 euro ($188 USD), and that doesn’t even include shipping! I knew I could figure out a way to DIY a version for much cheaper and I’m pretty thrilled with how stinking cute it turned out.




Here’s what you’ll need to DIY your own version:

  • 1-2′ x 4′ x 1/2″ sheet birch plywood @ $15.47
  • 12′ of 1″ x 4″ @ $1.12/LF = $13.44
  • 1″ Kreg pocket hole screws (100 ct.) @ $3.87
  • 2 boxes food coloring @ $3.48 ea = $6.96
  • 1 bottle isopropyl alcohol @ $2.29

The total material cost of my DIY version was $42.03 (about 78% off retail). Not too shabby.

To start I drafted and printed a template for the sides. You can download a pdf of my template here. To print it you’ll need access to a large format printer since it’s 36″ x 48″ in size or you can send it to your local office supply printer and have an oversized black and white print done for about $7.


After I had my paper template cut out I traced it onto my plywood twice arranging it so I could get two pieces out of my one plywood sheet.


To cut the sides out of the plywood I used a jigsaw. I learned from my mistakes that it’s best to cut out the inside of the handles first (just make a hole in the center with a large drill bit to start your cut).


Here’s my two side pieces after a little sanding to smooth out my edges to get rid of any potential small splinters.


For the interior rainbow pieces, I cut 1″ x 4″ poplar (actually 3/4″ x 3 1/2″) into nine lengths of 13.5″. After cutting them, I sanded them down and slightly eased the edges with the sander. Once the sanding was done the fun began with the food coloring.


The “wood dye” was just a couple tablespoons of isopropyl rubbing alcohol mixed with about 20ish drops of food coloring. Just play with the ratio of food coloring to isoproply alcohol until you get the color intensity you desire and brush it onto the wood with an interior paint brush. For the nine colors, I used two boxes of food coloring, one in the “classic” colors and one of the neon colors. I’m sure you could probably achieve the same rainbow effect with one box and mixing two colors for different combinations. The only mixing I had to do with the two boxes of varying shades was of the yellow and red to get my orange piece.


The pieces dry pretty fast since the alcohol evaporates so quickly, but I let mine sit out overnight to dry before I picked up the following night by drilling the pocket holes for final assembly. I used a Kreg jig do drill the pocket holes and since you are jointing a 3/4″ thick piece to a 1/2″ thick plywood you actually want the depth setting of the pocket hole jig set up to 5/8″.


After the holes were drilled in my frigid garage, I took all of the components inside for final assembly. Just eyeball the spacing of the rainbow pieces onto one of the sides and start attaching them with 1″ Kreg screws working from the center out to the edges. I attached everything to one side first and then I flipped the entire assembly over and attached everything into the second side. I choose to have my pocket holes on the “inside” of the rainbow but this is a personal preference and they could be flipped around to the outside if desired.


If for some reason you have a screw that pierces through the plywood just file it down smooth with a rasp or file so it doesn’t puncture tiny fingers. The final step is to finish the whole thing with a clear finish of your choice. I prefer General Finishes Water-Based Polyacrylic as my go to brush on clear finish. Last but not least I had my little guy take if for a test drive before we gift it to Claire on her birthday.


I think it passed the toddler evaluation! The thing can really get rocking and it’s nice and sturdy enough to climb on. If you decide to make one of your own good luck and please send me some pictures, I’d love to see them.


Linking up to Work it Wednesday, Wow Us Wednesdays, Inspiration Gallery, Creativity Unleashed, Weekend Bloggy Reading @ Serenity Now, Remodelaholics Anonymous , The DIYersLink Party Palooza, and EC2 CWTS Knock-Offs


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80 thoughts on “DIY Rainbow Rocker

  1. Kristin

    This is the cutest thing! I absolutely love the colors of the boards – great job, and so creative with just some food coloring! That is going to be one happy little girl. This is the cutest project, Becky – I have to pin this!

  2. Liz

    This is great! It looks so professional, like something you would see in a fancy catalog…and those colors you chose for the wood slats are amazing! I like that the kids can flip it over too and climb over and under it. Good work!

    1. Becky Post author

      Thanks Liz – I was drawn to the original inspiration for the same fun design and multi-functionality. Hopefully it will get a lot of hours of playtime.

  3. Crystal

    Visiting from the Blissful Bee link party…what a cute idea!!! My friend's adopting and I think we'll have to make that for a gift at some point! 😉

    1. Becky Post author

      Thanks Crystal! It was a lot of fun to make and I have high hopes for it getting a lot of play time after we gift it to my two year old on Saturday.

  4. @InTheNext30Days

    Woah. This looks like such fun for little ones. Thanks for sharing the how to, I'd love to make these for my kiddos too, perfect for playtime and relaxing.

    I found you via the MamaBubBlog Adventures in Pinterest Link up! And I'll be back!

  5. rea

    that is super adorbs!! my son and my daughter would love that becky! if only i know how to get a hold of power tools like you woman!

    hey thanks for sharing this over at The DIY’ers! huggies♥


    1. Becky Post author

      Thanks Rea! The jigsaw wasactually not all that intimidating – probably just a step above a power drill. Just take it slow to stay on the lines.

  6. rea

    Hi Becky,

    I just want to let you know that your rainbow rocker is on my top 3 from last week’s The DIY’ers!

    Congratulations! This will be featured onto my pinterest The DIY’ers Party Favorites board.

    Thanks for sharing and it is now live so come and link up your latest projects with us, huggies♥


  7. amal

    Hi Becky!

    I plan on shop-botting this project next week. Thanks for the inspiration. Will send you my page once its up! =)

    1. Becky Post author

      Awesome! A wish I had access to some sort of CNC machine – I had to go with the low tech route and use a jigsaw. Can't wait to see the results!

    2. Jordan

      Hi Becky, my husband has a shop bot and I am trying to get him tools this for our son. Can you share the instruct able page for it? Thanks!!!

  8. Gabrielle

    This is amazing!! I’ve been eyeing that 139 euro rainbow rocking for months wondering if I could tackle making my own. Now I know I can. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Summer G

    Wow you did an amazing job. I love ths . An I have everything to make it except the kreg jig do you believe its possible to do it without.

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  11. Jane Dawson

    Hi Becky,
    I love this and thank you for the generous instructions. I am making this for my granddaughter for Christmas. I am don’t know if you have time to reply to messages but I am wondering how it has held up after a year. My husband thinks it would be more sturdy if the screws went from the outside in. But I figure you would know if it was sturdy by now after a year of play!
    Thank you for the great tutorial!

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  13. Billie

    I have the same question as Jane! How has it held up?? My husband and father were just talking and they too think it might not hold up too well with the screws coming from inside to out and said we should go from outside in. Would love to know how it has held up over the last year!! we want to give this as a christmas gift so if you could post a reply quickly it would be greatly appreciated!

  14. koun

    I’m a mom who have a son and live in Korea, Sachon.
    While searching accidentally saw your site. I thought my son very like this.
    So I started making it. And finally finished it today. My son very like it , and not even clean up . He call it ” haw haw “.
    Your tips were very helpful to me.
    Very grateful for your sharing.

  15. Kelly M

    I’m going to attempt it for my great-nephew but I have a question.I can’t get a template of the birch sides, so I’m going to draw my own. What is the exact size of the drawing on the template. You say the paper for the template is 36″ x 48″ but you listed a 2′ x 4′ sheet of birch ply? Did you get both sides out of a 2′ x 4′ ? It would really help to know what size the handle diameter would be, in order to draw the rest.

    Many thanks I was at a loss to think of what to make him. He is 20 mos.

    I work at an Animal Shelter, thank you for rescuing a dog and putting in all the work to help him fit into your family.

  16. Greg Butterfield

    I have the same question about the dimensions. I think it is a great project but I am not geting the dimensions for the plywood sides. If you could clarify I would really appreciate it. Thank you.

    1. Rene Z

      I am in the same situation as Kelly M and Greg Butterfield.

      Please provide a drawing of the sides with dimensions so that I can duplicate.

      And when you say that you eyeball the gap between the slats, what would you say that is the gap that your eyball is looking at?

      I am looking forward to building one for my granddaughter, Allison.

      Thank you in advance for your additional help.

      1. Becky Post author

        Kelly, Greg, Rene, and Judy,

        I’ve created a dimensioned pdf of the template available here. Zoom into 100% to make the dimension text visable on your screen. I was able to get both sides out of one sheet of 2′ x 4′ plywood.

        Good luck with your projects!

        1. Kelly M

          Many thanks, that’s all I needed to know. I can’t get a print out of the template where I am but just knowing the two pieces fit on a 2 x 4 sheet is enough!

        2. Greg Butterfield

          Im really sorry to trouble you again but I cant read the dimensions and when I blow it up it is way too pixilated to read. Any suggestions?

          1. Becky Post author

            You'll probably need to download the pdf and open it in a pdf reader. I'm guessing you're trying to view the pdf from a web browser and it does look very pixelated when viewing it that way. Hopefully that works for you!

  17. Judy

    Our wood club makes toys for Christmas – This looks ideal. I would like to know the dimensions also and what age children do you feel this is best suited for. Thanks

    1. Becky Post author

      I'm guessing this would be appropriate for children for 18 months up to about 5 years of age. See my above comment for a link to dimensions.

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  19. Rob

    I love this project and am making it for my kids. I bought the Kreg pocket hole jig but have never done pocket holes before. What do you mean when you said you want the jig set up to 5/8″? Do you set the end of the jig 5/8″ from the end of the slat or how you get the correct spot for the pocket hole? Thanks!

    1. Catherine

      I just bought all the supplies (first time working with a jigsaw!) and have the same question! Where do I put the stopper, and where do I put the little sliding part attached to the kreg?

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  21. kim j

    You are so talented! I like the food coloring “trick” very cool. Rather than printing the template out at a stationary store there is a way to do it at (i love picmonkey!). I bookmarked a site with instructions but it is no longer available. You can print poster size items on 4 pieces of paper. It can’t be that hard and might save someone a few dollars :-).

  22. Desiraye

    Thanks so much for these DIY directions. Pictures were super helpful! I made my own, would love to show you pictures, but I can’t get pictures to go into this little comment box :/

  23. Mike

    Thanks for the inspiration. I saw this on pintrest. I am a beginning woodworker. I am making one for my first grand daughter. The food coloring stain is genius. Thank you so much. I think she will love it for a long time to come. Where can I send you a pic of the finished peoduct?

  24. JeniB

    Hi there. I am currently working on this project for my little ones. Thank you for the plans and for providing the Kreg adjustments. You weren’t kidding about taking your tine with the jigsaw. I had someone helping me and they kind of goofed up the lines just a little bit so I am busy (fine) sanding, sanding, sanding to make sure they are even. I am super excited to see how it all turns out (and praying- gotta be honest here. It’s not the most complex thing I have made, but it’s for my little ones so I don’t want to goof it up).

  25. Ginny

    You are very talented. Thank you for sharing this. I saw it on Pinterest a couple of weeks ago and their was no link to take you to the source. This is even better!!

  26. Kirsten

    Thank you SO MUCH for publishing this! We’re almost finished (just have to sand and assemble) and it’s wonderful, really. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  27. Amanda

    Hi! I have printed the template out but it looks really small! I instructed the copy shop to do 36″x48″ as you described. But the width from outside of handle to handle is only 29″ Does this sound right? What should the finished width and height be? Thanks so much! Can’t wait for my littles to come home from vacay with their dad to see this :)

  28. Amanda

    I didn’t have time to read through all the comments earlier but have now and saw the dimensions. Thanks!

  29. Michal

    Hi Becky,

    this project is very great idea, really! . You are very talented and I think that you can do woodworking as joiner! GOOD LUCK :-)

  30. Kate

    Hi Becky — I’m about half way through this project and ran into a problem that you may have an answer to. I’ve predrilled all of the holes to the specifications you gave (all of the materials are also in the same dimensions), and I have 1″ coarse Kreg screws, but drilling the first slat into the first side, the screws poked through almost a quarter inch. Kreg makes 3/4″ screws, so I’m off to the store tomorrow to see if they have any, but I wondered if that length would compromise the strength of the joint? And given that the 1″ came through so much, I worry that the 3/4 will too, and Kreg doesn’t make anything smaller… if it does, I don’t really want to be filing down 36 points. Any ideas? Thanks you for a great project!

  31. Thijs Geneyn

    I’m trying to sort out these measurements but i’m not sure if i’m figuring them out correctly

    the sheet of plywood 2ft x 4ft x 1/2inch is clear for me easy to recalculate

    but the second measurement i suppose is for the colored pieces 12ft? or 1inch x 4inch

    how wide did you actually make the rocker as i have tendency to blow up sizes if i have to guess. (pls used to working with cm & mm as i’m from belgium).

    Btw love the idea and am making it for my niece’s 1st birthday.

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  36. Ashley

    Thank you for this wonderful DIY! We made one for my daughter, and she loves it. It was made about 2 weeks ago, and she received it yesterday for her birthday. This morning I noticed some of the color coming off on her clothes! Any idea why this is happening? I colored the wood how you said above with alcohol and food coloring almost 2 weeks ago, so it should be dry! Any idea what I can do to stop it? Thanks again!

    1. Becky Post author

      Try putting a clear coat of poly over it. Quickest and easiest way would be to use the stuff in the aerosol spray can.Sent from my iPhone

  37. Sherah

    So wonderful! Thank you so much! Just curious the reason you chose pocket screws rather than straight holes from the side?

  38. Melody

    Just made this with my dad for my daughter! Thank you for the awesome plans!! The only things we did differently were drilled the pocket holes before staining, and I didn’t have a printer to print the template so I just eyeballed it. Overall measurements on your template would be super helpful for the people like me that can’t print lol. All in all this was a wonderful tutorial and something we will cherish for a long time, thank you!!

  39. Sarah

    I sent the template to my local print shop and it came out really 29″x15…what is the exact measurement it’s supposed to be? Is it actual size 36″x48″??? Thanks !


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