During the Christmas season, we love seeing reindeer because they are happy reminders that Santa is on his way. And adding reindeer motifs to your holiday decorating is a stylish way to get into the spirit. These reindeer made from birch wood branches and twigs are easy to create with just a few simple tools. Besides looking festive when displayed on a mantel or a tree, they also make great gifts. So don't be surprised if after seeing your handiwork, Santa offers you a job in his workshop.
Things You'll Need
- Birch branches, about 1 to 2 inches in diameter
- Drill with various sizes of bits
- Straight twigs
- All-purpose glue
- Floral shears
- Round upholstery tacks
- Twigs with offshoots
Red rhinestone (for Rudolph)
Step 1: Cut a Piece of Branch for the Body
If you do not have access to birch branches, they are available at crafts stores in diameters of 1 to 2 inches. The good thing about branches from stores is that they are usually very straight and have been pre-cleaned for you. Using a handsaw, cut a 3- to 4-inch section of a birch branch, depending on how big you want your reindeer. This will be the body of the reindeer.
Step 2: Cut a Piece of Branch for the Head
Using a handsaw, cut a 1 1/2-inch section of a birch branch for the head. But instead of cutting the branch straight across, tilt the saw to the side so you cut the branch at an angle. This way, the head will have the downward slope of a deer's muzzle.
Step 3: Cut a Piece of Wood for the Ears
For the reindeer's ears, cut 1/4-inch thick semicircles from the birch branch. The easy way to do this is to first bisect the branch, sawing into the top of the branch about 1/3-inch deep. Then saw straight across to cut off two semicircles.
Step 4: Drill Holes Into the Body Section
Decide which portion of the branch will be the underside of the reindeer. Make four marks to indicate where the legs will go.
Drill holes at a slight outward angle at the points you've indicated. The size of your drill bit will depend on the twigs you select for the project. Your twigs do not need to be birch. Any narrow, straight twigs will work. Hold the twig up to the drill bits to estimate the correct size. Most likely, you will need a drill bit between 1/8 and 3/8 inches. It's better to err on the side of too small a hole, as after testing it with your twigs, you can always drill a larger one. For each of your holes, drill about a half inch into the wood.
Drill a hole in the back of the branch for the reindeer's tail. Make it the same size as the hole for the legs.
Drill a hole where the neck will go, on top of the branch towards the front. For the neck, choose a thinner twig, so use a drill bit that will create a narrower hole.
Step 5: Insert the Legs and Tail
Insert twigs into the holes you drilled for the legs. Secure them in place with all-purpose glue, i.e., glue appropriate for wood.
Even the lengths of the legs with floral shears. While corresponding left and right legs need to be the same length, front legs and back legs do not need to be. The front legs can be longer so it appears that the reindeer is standing tall; if the front legs are shorter, the reindeer can look like it's grazing.
Cut a half-inch length of a twig and glue it into the back hole for the tail.
Step 6: Drill Holes Into the Head Section
On your section of birch designated for the reindeer's head, you will be drilling just three holes – two for the antlers and one for the neck. For antlers, select thin twigs that have many offshoots. Hold the twigs up to your drill bits to estimate the correct size bit to use. Drill the holes toward the back of the head. Then drill a hole on the bottom of the head where the neck will go. The size of that hole should be the same size as the neck hole you drilled in the body.
Step 7: Add the Eyes and Nose
For the eyes, hammer two round upholstery tacks on either side of the muzzle in front of the holes for the antlers. Hammer a third tack at the bottom of the muzzle for the nose. These facial features add personality to the reindeer.
Step 8: Insert the Antlers
Insert the twigs with offshoots into the holes you drilled for the antlers. Position them so the offshoots point outward, and secure them in place with glue.
Step 9: Attach the Ears
For the ears, glue the semicircles to the back of the head with about half of the semicircle extending past the head.
Step 10: Attach the Head to Body
Join the head and body with the twig that fits into the neck holes. Glue the end that goes into the head to secure it into place. If you leave the twig unglued on the body portion, you will be able to swivel the head back and forth. But if the reindeer is going to be handled frequently, go ahead and glue the twig at both ends.
And Don't Forget About Rudolph!
If you're making several birch reindeer, make sure one of them has a shiny red nose. Instead of an upholstery tack, glue on a red rhinestone at the end of the muzzle. And like Rudolph, your birch reindeer will go down in history.