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.