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Many of the project sites we look at take a Julia Childs approach to their holiday wood projects — you know, using materials you don’t have, tools you can’t afford, and plans you couldn’t draw up even if you were a rocket scientist. So to combat this effect we put together a reindeer and accompanying sleigh that you can assemble with a few simple tools and under $15 worth of lumber — in under a day.

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Note: As this is a Craftsman-sponsored project, you’ll notice a number of Craftsman tools in the photos. But here’s a secret: we already owned ‘em all. You can, of course, attack this project with tools of your choice.

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The complete list of materials consists of two 1”x12”x6’ pieces of pine, a few nails, and two optional cans of paint.

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First you’ll need to sketch out a few reindeer parts. This isn’t an exact science here and is a great place to have some fun designing your deer.  You’ll basically need six parts: the front and back leg pieces, a body, a neck, a head, and a set of antlers. Remember, your drawings don’t need to be perfect, so don’t worry about messing up.  Just roughly sketch parts similar to what you see here in pencil.  When you’re happy with your pieces, go ahead and trace over them with a sharpie.

Now it’s time to cut out the pieces. We grabbed Craftsman’s Li-Ion Multi-Saw which acts just like a regular jigsaw (except it’s a bunch smaller) and cut along the black lines to free our new pieces up.  Slower cutting will actually help you stay inside the lines and will save you a bit of time trimming the fat later on.

Fastening the reindeer’s pieces together is simple. Just take a piece of scrap you just cut with a straight edge on it and mark a notch in the wood using the scrap as a guide. Mark the depth of the notch at about an inch, though super accurate measuring isn’t really necessary.

Cut the notches out as best you can. Remember to err on the tight side. Cutting too much out of the joints will make them loose and wiggly and the reindeer will tend to want to fall down, or parts’ll fall off. Trust us: there’s nothing that kills the spirit like a reindeer with a head that falls off all the time.

Fit the pieces together. Attach the legs and neck to the body and the antlers to the head, then fit the head to the neck. If you’ve done it correctly you should have an uber-adorable reindeer standing in the shop. If you have a wobbly reindeer you might have to re-cut notches or make a new piece or two. If you have a misshapen reindeer, some work with the multi-saw might be in order. Make adjustments as necessary.

Next, knock it back apart for a bit of sanding work. We went to town with Craftsman’s VibraFree palm sander to smooth out the rough edges and rid our deer of annoying potential splinters.

Reassemble the reindeer and it’s ready for finishing.

Read on to page two for our sleigh How-To.

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5 Responses to How-To: Build A Reindeer And Sleigh For $15

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