A few years ago, I made my nephew an heirloom rocker for Christmas, and my niece will soon be about the age he was when I gave it to him. Thus, I decided to make an heirloom rocker for her as well this year. However, I also thought it would nice to design one that would make a nice decoration for Christmas morning as well. I ultimately decided on this design. I thought, my niece could used it until she outgrows it, and then it would be an annual holiday decoration to remind her of me.
Step 1: Materials
Step 1: Tools and Materials
For this project I used a variety of tools and materials at different stages. But the most important ones are listed here. 1 by 10 inch pine boards (length depends on size of the horse)
Variously sized wood screws
Electric screw driver
Drill press with various sized drill bits and forstner bits
Variety of wood rasps (some rounded, some flat)
Variety of wood files (in different sizes and geometric configurations)
Variety of sandpaper: 60 grit, 100, 150, 220, 320, 400
Steel Wool ultrafine grade
Needle nose pliers
Time, Patience, and Love
Step 2: The Template
I started the project by designing the reindeer and cutting a template for the design. All of the pieces for the reindeer itself are in the picture above. The Template for the Sleigh is in the instructable farther down the line.
The smallest template is for the ears. It is not attached to the body template because there will be three cut outs of the body template, two with ears, and one without. In reality, there is only one template for the back legs as it is the same for both legs. I cut all of the template pieces out of poster board as it is a thick than paper, and easier to outline onto the wood.
Step 3: Transposing the Design
I put the template pieces on 1" by 10" wood boards and lightly outlined in pencil all of the template pieces I would use.
Ultimately I needed to outline two of each leg template, two antlers, two saddles, and three body pieces (one without the ear added and two with an added ear).
Please Note: When selecting the wood for this project, I looked for pieces of wood that had the fewest knots and imperfections. In common lumber stores or yards, you can buy the premium boards for a higher quality wood. However, if you place the templates by planning ahead you can avoid or hide any knots or imperfections. When placing the templates on the board, I tried to place them around imperfections and knots in the wood. If I could not avoid any imperfections, I tried to make sure that any imperfections would be on board that would be hidden between boards or inside or underneath from view. Thus the inside board for each leg, and the center body piece (which will ultimately be between two other boards) are ideal.
Caveat: If you try to place the template pieces as close to each other as possible, you will need to account for width of the saw blade, or you may loose the width of blade from the size of the board when cut out.
Please Note: Your choice of type of wood can affect the weight and strength of the rocker, as well as the price of the project. I used pine because it has a great old fashioned look, and because it is relatively inexpensive. In retrospect, if I made another reindeer, I would make the antlers out of oak or maple. The antlers are thin and elegant, and I think a stronger wood would have been a better long term choice.
Step 4: Cut the Body Pieces
Once I traced all of the templates in the numbers listed above, I used a jig saw to cut out each piece.
Step 5: Creating the Body Pieces
Once all the pieces were cut out, I took both of each leg cut out to press them together and create thicker pieces.
Step 6: Scoring the Wood Between the Pieces
When I had all of the pieces matched up, I decided which face of each piece would be pressed together. Any knots or imperfections should be on the inside face so it is hidden from sight. I took a metal file and used the end to score the inside edges of the boards. These will be the glued edges. The scoring will give the glue more surface area and more grip. Do not score all the way to the end of the boards. If you score all the way to the end you make see the indentation when the boards are glued together.
Step 7: Gluing the Pieces Together
I put a layer on glue on one inside edge of one board. I rubbed it on to create a thin layer. I also didn't rub the glue too close to each edge of the boards. Too much glue will be pressed out from between the boards when clamped, and require additional Then I pressed the scored sides together work.
Step 8: Clamping the Pieces
I used C-clamps and small arm clamps to press and hold each body part together while the glue dried. However, to protect the outside "visible" edge of each body part, I took small pieces of scrap wood, left over from other projects, and put them between the clamp and the body part surface. Pine is a relatively soft wood and the force of the clamps can easily dent it. In this way, the scrap wood will be damaged instead of the body part.
I put clamps all around each body part to make sure that the pieces were flush together all the way around. Once fully clamped, I let the glue dry overnight. .
Note: for the body section I scored both sides of the non-eared center pieces, and then attached the outer pieces one at a time. Once the glue dried from the first side, I put on other side in the same way. The fully glue body piece is in the picture above.
Step 11: Shaping the Tail
I designed the deer tail to be tear drop shaped. Once the body was fully glued I used a pencil to draw the shape of the tail on the back.
Step 12: Cutting the Tail
I took my jig saw again and cut along the drawn tail shape from the back of the body section.
Step 13: Rasp to Continue Shaping
I took a rasp and a number of metal files to smooth out the cut edge.
Step 14: Routing the Edges
Once all of the body parts were cut out, I ran a hand router over the side edge of each piece.
With the antlers I stabilized the router and ran the wooden antler around the bit. BE VERY CAREFUL not to get to close the router bit.
When routing the body piece, I lightly marked with a pencil the location on each side of where the saddle pieces would be glued. When routing the top of the reindeer body, I did not route the places marked for the saddle.
Moreover, I placed all of the legs where they would eventually be glued, and lightly marked on each leg piece where each leg overlapped with the body piece. I did not route the areas of overlap so that the glued surfaces would be flush together.
Step 15: Sanding the Edges
After routing each piece, I used my belt sander to even out the glued edges. Note: Be careful when using a belt sander. If you leave it on the belt for a few seconds it can dig into the wood and mishape the piece. Always try to hold the pieces on the correct angle so that the sanding surface lays flat, and only touch it touch it to the sander for a second or two at a time.
In some places, the belt sander was not able to reach, I used my rasp to smooth the overlapping sections, then a metal file to make the surface smoother, then rough sand (80 grit) paper to continue to smooth.
Step 18: Putting the Body Together
While preparing to connect all of the body pieces together, I sanded lightly around the non-routing edges that would be lying flush to the body piece. This is only to remove any rough edges on the cut which may keep the body part lying flush to the body.
I the placed all of the body parts back together in the light markings I made earlier.
Step 20: Scoring the Wood
Just like when I glued each individual leg section together, I then took the back of a metal file to score the surfaces to be glued. Note: as you can see, I hid a knot in the leg by putting it on the glued surface, hidden between the boards.
Step 21: Gluing the Pieces
I put wood glue on each scored surface and spread it out. Again, be sure not to use too much.
I put the glued and scored legs for one side of the body back in place.
and clamped them as I described before, making sure to put a piece of scrap wood between the clamp and the wood surface.
Step 25: Removing Excess Glue
As you can see in the picture above, some glue was pushed out from between the connected surfaces. Is still wet you can wipe this away with a damp paper towel. Once dry I took a small sharp chisel to chip off the excess, being very careful not the mark the wood with the chisel.
Once the glue from the first side was dry, I turned the deer over to attach the legs on the opposite side. I made sure to view the deer from all around the side to make sure that the legs were properly aligned with each other all around the body.
Once everything was lined up correctly, I attached the legs in the same way on the prior side, first scoring the wood, adding the glue and clamping the pieces down with scrap wood, to protect the wood.
Once the glue dried, the major body was assembled.
Step 29: Sanding the Antlers
Once the body was fully assembled, I moved to the antlers. It was easier to sand them before attaching them to the body. I sanded them with a variety of different sand papers, from rough (80 grit) to fine (200+ grit).
Step 30: Marking the Screw Holes
I put he antlers next to each other as mirror images to mark a similar spot on each antler. I then used a screw to press in a small indentation as a starting point.
I then used a 3/4 inch forstner bit to drill about a 1/4 inch into each antler.
I then positioned the antlers in place. I wanted significant overlap with head for a greater hold with the glue. I then drilled through the center of the countersink hole into the head.
I put a small amount of glue on the back of the antler on the point of contact between the antler and the head.
I then started to screw in a 1.25 inch screw into the antler so that it just stuck out a tiny bit out the other side back side of the antler where I had applied the glue.
I lined up the screw tip with the pilot hole and repositioned the antler against the head. I screwed it in.
Step 36: Plug the Holes
I put a drip of glue in the countersink hole over the screw.
I then tapped in a 3/4 inch dowel and used my pull saw to cut the dowel flush to the antler.
I repeated the process on the other side with the second antler, making sure to line it up properly with the first antler.
Step 39: The Saddle
Last on the body, I attached two curved pieces, one on each side of the body to mark the saddle.
Step 40: Routing the Saddle
After cutting out the saddle pieces, I routed one side of each saddle piece, on mirror image sides.
I then repeated the process to attach the saddle pieces. I scored the wood, put glue it, and clamped it down with scrap wood to protect the surface.
Step 42: Marking the Screw Holes
Even though the legs were all glued on, I also wanted to add screws for added strength and stability. I therefore made two equilateral triangles, one big and one smaller. I positioned one on each leg as you can see in the pictures. I used a screw to put a small indentation at each tip of each triangle. This would mark the point for each pilot hole for the screws.
I drilled at each indentation with a 3/4" forstner bit, about 1/4 inch into the wood.
I then drilled pilot holes down into the countersink holes about two inches deep with a 1/16" wide drill bit.
I put a 2.5" decking screw into each pilot hole.
Step 46: Plugging the Holes
I plugged the holes in the same way as with the antlers. I dripped in a little glue, tapped in a dowel and cut it flush to the leg.
Then sanded over all of the plugged hole with medium grit sand paper, always in the direction of the grain of the wood.
Step 49: The Harness Lines
I wanted to put strips of wood on the reindeer body to "suggest" a leather harness. In order to do so, I trimmed a slim strip off a some scrap wood about an 1/8 inch thick on my tablesaw. I then cut that strip into thinner widths of about 3/4" wide. .
I laid the strips on the reindeer legs and marked the strip at each end of each leg. I then cut the strips into lengths in accordance with the markings.
Step 51: Gluing on the Harness Strips
As you can see in the pictures, I also cut length of strips for each side of the neck and the top of the neck.
Once all the strips where cut to length, I glued them on one side.
Once the first side was dry, I turned the deer body over to repeat the process on the other side. When doing the alternate side, I made sure to look at the reindeer from the sides to make sure that the harness strips lined up on both sides.
Step 52: Trimming the Harness Straps
I then took my pull saw and cut each end of each strip at about a 45% angle. I used my rasp to round the each end of each strip, and then filed the rounded edges to make them smoother.
Step 53: Sanding
Once the strips were all glued on I used multiple grits of sandpaper to sand the entire reindeer. I started with the rougher papers, from 60 grit to 100. The rougher sandpapers are good for removing any defects, but they will leave clear scratches on the wood. This is why it is always important to run the sandpaper, regardless of grit, in the same direction of the grain of the wood. I then used medium grit papers from 100 grit to 180 grit to continue removing defects, and reduce the scratches from the rougher sand papers. Finally I used fine grit papers from 200 grit to 400 grit, to continue the smoothing process and give the reindeer a smooth feel.
Note: I made sure to do the sanding in an open well ventilated area and work a dust mask.
Step 54: Final Body
Step 55: The Handles
In order to mark the location where the handles will be, I first pressed in the end of a screw were I intended to drill the handle hole.
Step 56: Drilling the Handle Hole
In retrospect it would have been much easier to drill the hole before attaching the antlers. In order to do so I had to prop the body to keep it level so that I drilled straight down through the neck.
I first drilled a pilot hole with a 1/8" drill bit, through the neck.
I then used my 3/4" forstner bit down into the pilot hole and straight through the neck.
For the handles, I used a 3/4" maple dowel. I used maple for strength. I hammered the dowel gently through the body until it stuck out just a little over 4 inches on one side.
I then drilled through a scrap piece of wood, and put it on the short end of the dowel until the end of the dowel stuck out of it a few millimeters. I used my pull saw against the scrap wood to cleanly cut the end.
I then put the scrap wood on the other side, and used the pull saw to cut the other side as well, at the same length.
Although the handle was held tightly by the hole, I wanted to ensure that it would not move even if hit. I therefore drilled into the back of the neck and into the handle dowel with a 1/8 inch drill bit to make a pilot hole.
I then used my 1/4" forstner bit to drill into the pilot hole.
I dripped some glue to into the hole, then took a 1/4 inch dowel, sanded the end, and hammered it into the hole with a rubber mallet.
Once it was hammered all the way in, I used my pull saw to cut the dowel flush to the neck.
Step 66: Making the Rocker Base
In order to make the rocker base, I first made a template for the actual rockers.
I took the rocker template and traced it twice on 1" wide pine. I cut each section out with my jig saw.
I then clamped the two sections together with hand clamps, which do not have the same pressure as c-clamps and bar clamps. Thus I didn't use scrap wood between the clamps and the wood. However, as pine is a soft wood, you may wish to do so.
I took the clamped pieces and rocked them back and forth lightly on my belt sander to make sure that they were smooth, followed the same curve, and would rock smoothly.
I then routed both sides of each rocker with the routed bit at a shallower depth, just to round the edges. I then re-clamped the pieces together.
I marked a rocker on each end as you can see in the pictures. Then drilled straight through both rockers for a pilot hole with a 1/16" drill bit, and then straight down through the pilot hole with a 3/4" forstner bit all the way through both rockers.
I then took a 3/4" inch pine dowel and pushed it through one rocker end, and then pushed the other rocker end down at the other side of the dowel.
Step 72: Making the Perpendicular Slats for the Rocker Base
In order to make the perpendicular slats of wood, I ripped some scrap wood to a width of about 2 inches.
I also ripped some of my scrap wood to a width of about 3 inches.
I then marked the various strips at a length of 10 inches and put an X to mark the outside edge of the line so that I knew on which side to cut. In this way, I was sure that they were all the same length, and none were reduced by the width of the saw blade.
I ultimately made 4 10" sections from the 2 inch wide wood, and 1 10" section from the 3 inch wide strip.
I sanded and smoothed the pieces to remove any defects caused from the blade.
Step 77: Putting the Pieces Together
When I originally made the rocker base, I centered the 3 inch strip to the middle dead center of the rocker and spaced one 2 inch section on each side of it. I spaced the cross slats 3/4" apart (by putting a scrap board in between the boards for spacing).
Note: this base is not he actual one you see in the final project. I made an error at this point as I forgot to take into account the non-even weight distribution of the reindeer. the head was heavier than the rear. when the deer was attached, it was constantly leaning forward. I therefore had to make a second rocker base. However the process was the same for each. I will point out any differences as I go and explain the correct placement of the reindeer ..
To attach the cross strips, I marked the center of the wider board. The dowels at he ends of the rockers held the sides relatively firm and thus held the cross strips. I drilled a pilot hol into the middle of the center board, about 1/2" down from the top of the rocker. I used an 1/8" drill bit through the side and into the cross strip.
On the original rocker base, I used a 3/4" forstner about 1/4" deep over the pilot hole. I put some glue on the wider strip end and put it in place.
I then screwed a 2 inch wood screw into the pilot hole and into the cross slat. I repeated this on the other side of the rocker.
I once again made sure the spacing was even between the slats.
Once the thinner strips were in the correct position, I marked the outside of the rocker for two pilot holes into each 2" cross slat, about 1.25" apart.
I pressed a screw tip into the marked spots so as to indent a spot for a pilot hole. I drilled 1/4" deep countersink hole with a 1/4" forstner bit.
I drilled pilot holes with 1/16" bit into each countersink hole. I added glue to each send of each 2" strip, and put them back in place. I then screwed two 2 inch screws into each cross slat.
Once the 2 inch cross slats were screwed into both ends of each slat, I added additional screw into the center board. On the center board, I measure 1/2" out from each side of the countersink hole, and 1/2" down from the top of the board.
I Plugged the holes as I did on the reindeer. I dripped glue into each countersink hole. I put the appropriately sized dowel in countersink hole,and cut it flush to the rocker base.
I then turned to the rocker ends where the dowels were. To make sure that the 3/4" dowel was stable and immobile, I marked the top of each rocker end with the tip of a screw.
I drilled through the end of the rocker and into the dowel.
I then dripped glue onto the end of an 1/8" dowel and tapped the dowel into each hole.
I cut the 1/8" dowel flush to the rocker with the pull saw.
I then cut off the 3/4" dowel flush to the rocker base with the pull saw.
Once the center platform was in place, I had to place the two cross slats on which the reindeer will be placed.
Placement: Originally I placed the reindeer so that it looked centered on the rocker base. However, once I attached it, the weight of the reindeer made it lean forward. On the second base, I propped the cross beams that will hold the reindeer in the rocker base and actually put the reindeer on them. I adjusted their placement until the reindeer was well balanced on the rocker base.
I connected these cross slats in the same way as I did earlier. I marked the spots for the screw holes, drilled pilot holes, drilled countersink holes with my forstner bit, and screwed with 2.5" wood screws.
Step 94: Attaching the Reindeer to the Base
I placed the reindeer in place and marked the cross strips where the hooves would be connected.
Once I marked the placement of each hoof, I drilled two pilot holes 1/2" apart, through the cross beam within the outline of each hoof point of contact.
I then turned over the rocker base, and used 1/4" forstner to countersink about 1/4 inch into the wood over each pilot hole. I did this for all three legs that will connect to the rocker base. The fourth leg was lifted from the base for visual effect.
I then put a little glue on the top side of the rocker base at each outlined place marker, and put the reindeer back place.
I measured a second time to make sure that the reindeer was placed properly while the glue was still wet.
I drilled pilot holes up into each leg at each countersunk hole. I made sure to look at the reindeer from different perspectives to make sure that I drilled directly into the meat of the leg. I used an 1/8" drill bit and drilled about 2" into the leg.
I then screwed a 3 inch decking screw into each pilot hole. I used such large screws to make the rocker as stable and firm as possible as only 3 legs are connected to the base.
Once it had been attached, I sanded the rocker and cross slats with a variety of grit sandpapers from rough to fine.
Step 100: Staining the Rocker
Once everthing had been sanded to a smooth finish, I used an old white t-shirt to wipe it all down to remove the dust from the reindeer and rocker. I then put on some vinyl gloves to protect my skin from discoloration, I took a classic oak stain and polyeurothane mix to stain the accents of the reindeer. I wanted to ultimately stain the reindeer darker than the the wood representing the harness leather.
I used the light stain on the strips, antlers, and saddle. When applying the stain, I used an index card to block the light stain from other areas not meant to share that stain.
Step 102: Eye Hooks for Bells
I then marked the back of each l hind leg with the tip of a screw and drilled a very small pilot hole with a 1/16 inch drill bit, lined up with the "harness" strip. I then screwed an eye hook into each pilot hole.
I also put two smaller eye hooks into each wood strip on each leg, and each front leg. I used the same process as before. I marked the spot, drilled a pilot hole, and screwed in the eye hooks.
Step 104: The Dark Stain
I then took a darker stain, red oak, for the body, and used an old t shirt to rub in the stain.
As before, I used an index card to protect the lighter stained areas from the darker stain. .
Step 105: Staining the Rocker
Before staining the rocker, I used wood filler to fill in small imperfections/chips in the wood. I rubbed it in, then sanded the area once it was dry.
I then turned the reindeer over and started rubbing in the lighter stain/polyeurothane mix on the entire base and the cross beams.
Step 107: Polyurethane
Once the entire reindeer and rocker base was stained, I used foam brushes to coat the entire thing with a clear satin polyurethane.
Step 108: Between Coats
Once the first coat was completely dry, I used a very fine steel wool to lightly "sand" the reindeer to smooth out the polyeurothane coat. As with everything else, I rubbed the steal wool in the direction of the grain.
After rubbing the entire rocker with the steal wool I used a shop vac on blow to blow off all of the dust, and small steel fibers from the rocker.
After about 6 coats of polyurethane, and six times smoothing it our with steel wool, The reindeer body and rocker were complete.
Step 111: The Sleigh: Template
Above is the template I made for the sleigh, or at least the sides, front, and back. I did not include a template for the base, as I made the base to fit.
Step 112: Wood Stock
I needed a larger slab of wood for the size of the sleigh. As such, I glued pieces of 1" thick wood together side end to side end. I used long arm clamps to clamp them together while the glue dried. When using such long arm clamps do not clamp too tightly or you can make the board curve upward. Thus I made sure to check under the boards to make sure that they were laying flat when clamped.
Once the glued dried, traced the outline of the templates onto the wood as before.
I then again used a jig saw to cut out the two sides of the sleigh.
Note: as before, i tried to place the templates onto the wood in such a way that the knots and imperfections would be cut off.
To cut out the interior holes of the sleigh sides, I first drilled starter holes with my 3/4" forstner bit all the way through at each hole.
I then inserted the jig saw blade into each hole and cut out the pattern.
One the two sides of the sleigh were cut out, I routed the entire outline on both sides.
Once the sides were cut, I cut the front and back on my table saw.
I cut the front and back pieces to a width of 10.25" so that the total width of the sleigh was equal to or slightly larger than the width of the rocker base. I marked the top of the front piece and the top of the back piece as the top of each will also be rounded -- I routed the top of each.
I stacked the pieces together to measure the base board to fit the sleigh. I measured it to end about a third of an inch from the end of each side, above the sleigh I then cut the base board to fit, width matching the width of the front and rear boards. I routed the front and rear ends of the base board (but not the sides) (as you can see in the picture).
Once the base board was cut and routed. I marked it's placement on the side board, so I would know where to replace it if moved.
Step 122: Cutting the Front and Rear Board to Fit the Base Board
Once the base board was cut and routed to fit, I put the base board, front board, and rear board in place on a side board. When everything was in place I marked the front and rear boards, as you can see in the pictures, to the angled cut so that the bottom of the front and rear boards sit flush on the base board.
I placed the boards on my table saw and tilted the blade to match the angle of the markings. I then ran each board through the table saw to but the bottom edge of each board at the marked angle.
Step 124: Marking for the Screw Holes
In order to make sure that the screw holes to connect the sleigh together were uniformly placed, I took the original sleigh template and marked on the template each point where the screw holes would be. For the screw holes to connect the base board to the side boards, I measured a line 3.75 inches up from the bottom of the side board. I then marked the spot for each screw hole along this line, marking in the middle of each cut out hole in the side template (as you can see in the pictures). Once I marked each spot for the drill holes, I placed the template on each side picture and pressed the tip of a screw into each marked spot in the template to mark the wood beneath
I then put all the pieces back together with the sleigh laying on its side, and put glue on one side of the base board before placing on the side board on top.
I placed the side board on top and made sure that it was placed in the original marking I made when measuring and cutting the base board. Once it was correctly in place, I drilled pilot holes down through the side board into side of the base board. I made sure to look at the angle of the drill from the side, so that the pilot hole went straight down.
I used a 3/8 forstner bit to drill about a 1/4 inch down in line with each pilot hole.
I drilled a 1.25 inch wood screw into each pilot hole and into the base board.
Once the base board was attached to one side and the glue dried, I turned it over so that the connected side was down, and the base board was standing straight up. I then marked the underside of the base board for three screw holes at each end to attached the base board to the front and rear boards. The first screw hole was 1.25 inches from the connected side, the second was at 5.25 inches (the center of the width of the base board), and the third hole was marked 1.25 from the top of the board. The marking were all 3/4 of an inch from the routed edge of each side. Once I marked each spot for a screw hole I drilled 1/4" into the underside of the base board with a 3/8 forstner bit. I put the front and rear boards in place with glue on the side connecting to the base place. I then drilled a pilot hole up through the underside of the base board into the front and rears board with 1/8" drill bit, the screwed a 1/25: wood screw up through the underside of the base board into the front and rear boards. I made sure the pilot holes and screws were at the same angle as the front and rear boards.
Step 131: Attaching the Other Side Board
Once the front and rear boards were screwed in place, I put glue on the top edge of the front, rear and base boards, and put the remaining side board on top. I repeated the process of attaching the side board to the base board. I made sure the side board was placed in the markings I made earlier, drilled pilot holes and countersink holes, and screwed into the pilot holes with 1.25" wood screws.
Step 132: Plugging the Holes
I plugged the screw holes with a 3/8 inch dowel as I did with the reindeer and sleigh.
I put a little glue into each countersunk hole.
I lightly sanded the end of the dowel.
I pressed the dowel into the countersunk hole, hammered it in, and used a pull saw to cut the dowel flush to the side.
Step 136: Screwing the Front and Rear Boards to the Side Board
I screwed pilot holes at each marked spot.
I drilled countersink at each pilot hole with a 3/8" forstner bit, and screwed into each hole with a 1.25" wood screw.
I plugged each hole with a 3/8" dowel as described prior, and then turned over the sleigh, and repeated the process on other side so that everything was screwed and glued together.
Step 140: Lining the Inside of the Sleigh
I wanted to line the inside of the sleigh with wood so I created some 1/3" by 1/3" square dowel out of scrap wood. I cut the dowels at lengths to run along the inside edges of the sleigh. Each dowel was cut to fit, measuring twice, and then put in place.
Once the square dowel was cut to the correct size, I glued them in place.
Step 144: The Harness Lines
I wanted to create two wooden "ropes" to connect the sleigh to the reindeer. I originally designed it to be 22 inches total length, cut into thirds. However, I later changed this for aesthetic reasons as you will see.
After cutting each section, I marked each end in the middle by pressing in the tip of a screw.
I drilled into the marked spots with a 1/16" drill bit for a pilot hole.
I took 4 of the dowel sections and put an hook at one end. I then put a small screw eye into each remaining pilot hole on all of the dowel sections.
I stained and eurothaned each dowel section with the classic oak stain/eurothane combo. Ultimately, I put on about 4 coats.
Step 150: Hooking the Sleigh
I added six hooks on the sleigh, one near the top on the curve coming down as you can see in the pictures. I marked the spot, drilled a pilot hole and screwed in a screw eye.
I added another one under the curve at the front of sleigh.
And the last one directly in the front of the same curve.
Step 153: Sanding the Sleigh
I then sanded the sleigh with various grit sandpapers, from coarse to fine as before, and rubbed it afterwards with a scraps of fabric to remove any dust.
Step 155: Staining the Sliegh
I then used the same classic oak stain/polyurethane mix all over the sleigh.
As with the reindeer, I rubbed the sleigh with fine grade steel wool between coats, making sure to blow out the steel wool filings with a shop vac after each rubbing. I ultimately added about 5 coats.
Step 158: Making the Harness "Rope"
I then took silver jewelry loops, left over from a prior project, and used the to connect each screw eye between the harness "rope" sections. I used two needle nose pliers to separate the silver loops. I pushed the sides open and slipped it onto the screw eye at one end of a harness section, and then slipped it over the screw eye of another section, and then closed the loop.
However, once I completed the harness "rope" and hooked each side to the sleigh and reindeer respectively, I didn't like how long it was, and wanted to make the sections smaller. I also moved the point of connection closer to the front of the sleigh.
In order to do so, I cut each dowel section in half and ultimately only used 4 half sections to make each harness rope as you can see in the pictures.
I then marked each harness rope section in the middle and put screw hooks into the center of each dowel section as you see in the pictures.
Step 162: Attaching the Bells
Once the harness "rope" was all connect, I added bells to all of the remaining screw eyes I had put in the reindeer, sleigh, and harness line. To do so, I slipped the end of each bell onto a jewelry loop, then onto the screw eyes, and closed the loop.
I attached bells to each dowel section as well.
For the sleigh, I put a big bell on each screw eye under the front of the sleigh.
Step 167: Silver Tacks for Effect
I had originally intended to cover the saddle with leather, however, I ultimately decided that I would leave it uncovered, because other wood was supposed to suggest leather
Originally I was going to use the tacks to help hold down the leather. However, I decided I would still press in the silver tacks to give it visual effect. I pushed in a tack about intervals of about an inch to inch and half as you can see in the pictures.
Step 168: Connect and Arrange
I then hooked the harness "rope" onto the sleigh and reindeer. The fully connected and constructed reindeer and sleigh are in the pictures above.
Note: if someone is intending to use the rocking reindeer, the harness rope should be disconnect from the sleigh as the silver loops are not particularly strong as I explain in the next step.
However, overall this was a fun an rewarding project. It will hopefully be both a pleasant decoration and a memorable gift for my niece.
Step 169: Lessons and Changes
In the process of designing and making this project, there were a few changes I would have made, if I was going to make another.
1. I would make the antlers about 10% larger, and make it out of a stronger wood, such as maple or oak. I have concerns that the antler may break off if hit with enough force.
2. I used silver jewelry rings to connect the reindeer to the sleigh. I choose them because they are shiny and silver and would look great as Christmas decals. However, they are not very strong. next time, I will would use slightly thicker steal hoops.
3. As either an added decoration, or if I was making this design for more than one child, I would add screw eyes to the front legs of the reindeer in line with the harness line, make two more harness "rope" sections, and attach another reindeer rocker to the front.
I hope you enjoyed this project as much as I enjoyed making it. Happy making, and merry Christmas!