Introduction: Wooden Reindeer Figures
Just in time for the holidays I'll show you how to make cute reindeer ornaments from hardwood. Make a bunch of them for your Christmas tree, fireplace mantle, windowsills, or give them away as gifts or stocking stuffers.
Grandpa Jim gets credit for sharing the idea and teaching us how to do it; my daughter Elissa did the actual ornaments shown.
As a commenter pointed out, the original design comes from Ronald Walters and Matthias Wandel at http://woodgears.ca/reindeer/
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Step 1: Materials and Tools
A small block of hardwood, e.g. 3-3/4" by 1-3/8" by 3/4" - walnut, oak, cherry, or whatever you have.
Do not use soft wood as the antlers and legs will break too easily.
Bandsaw with 1/8" blade or Scroll Saw
See attached file 'reindeer.pdf'
Step 2: Layout
Start with the wooden block and lay out the front and side profile of the reindeer from the template pattern. The grain of the wood needs to run in the long dimension.
Print the template at the scale of your choice. You can either trace the template onto the block using carbon paper, or you can cut it out and glue it to the wood block. If you plan to make a lot of reindeer figures, transfer the template to a piece of hardboard or thin plywood and use those for your layouts as we did in the pictures.
The front profile goes on the narrow side of the block. Mark the reindeer at the antler line (shown on template) on both front and side profile in order to line them up properly to each other, see photo. On the front profile be sure to leave enough clearance between the reindeer and the edge of the wood block; each side waste-piece needs to come off in one piece, see next step.
Step 3: Cut Out the Front Profile
You need to cut out the front profile first. The picture above shows the sequence of cuts.
1. Remove the space inside the antlers.
2. Remove the space between the legs.
3. Make a cut along the antler outsides to the head, then back out the blade.
4. Make one cut along the outside profile from the feet up to the bottom of the antlers to meet the prior cut.
5. Repeat on the other side.
6. The waste from each side cut should come off in one piece; save them for the next step.
Step 4: Prepare to Cut the Side Profile
In order to cut the side profile you need to tape both waste pieces from the prior step back to your reindeer-in-progress. This gives you a flat surface for your next cuts, and also the layout for you to follow on the bandsaw. Use several lengths of Scotch tape to completely wrap around the three pieces and hold them together for cutting the side profile.
Step 5: Cut the Side Profile
Here you should follow the proper sequence of cuts as shown in the picture and described below:
1. Cut straight from the side to the bottom of the antlers, both sides
2. Cut under the chin to the neckline
3. Cut the reindeer's back from tail to the neck
4. Make a cut around the rear of the antlers to meet cut 1.
5. Make a round cut over the tops of the antlers to the front of the head to meet cut 1.
6. Remove the insides between the antlers (3x)
7. Cut out the area between the front and rear legs
8. Cut from the side to the body under the tail
9. Cut the outside of the rear legs from the hoof to the tail
10. Trim the tail
11. Cut the front legs and chest from the hoof to the neck
12. Complete the nose from cut 1 to cut 2
13. Cut the rear neckline to the end of cut 3, then up to cut 1
You are done!
Step 6: Finish
Remove any rough edges and saw-blade 'fuzzies' with sandpaper or fingernail emery board. Be careful to protect the antlers and legs.
Your reindeer should be able to stand on its own. Attach a hook if you want to hang it on your Christmas tree.
The photos show a few of our reindeer herd!
Use your imagination to design other animal figures. We made some bunnies for Easter using the same procedure.