How to Build a Horse Sleigh

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This holiday season, add a Christmas sleigh to your outdoor holiday decorations. While you can buy a Santa sleigh to add to your lawn or room, you can save money and have fun with woodworking projects like this sleigh build.

And of course, you don't have to make Santa's sleigh. Don't forget these words from the popular holiday song ‌Jingle Bells‌ written by James Lord Pierpont: "Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh." You may not have the option to go on a sleigh ride pulled by a horse this season, but you can still enjoy this iconic Christmas decoration.

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This DIY project tutorial for building your own wooden sleigh requires only materials that can be found at your local hardware store. You may even be able to use scrap wood you have on hand if it is still in good condition. Entertain your family and friends with this inexpensive project while getting everyone in the spirit of the holiday.

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Things You'll Need

  • Picture of a sleigh

  • 2 sheets of plywood

  • Pencil

  • Saw

  • 2x4-foot lumber (at least 6 boards)

  • 2x10-foot lumber (at least 2 boards)

  • 1x2-foot lumber (at least 1 board)

  • Power drill

  • Interior and exterior screws

  • Paint (color of choice)

  • Bells

  • Holly

Design Your Sleigh

1. Find a picture of a sleigh

Search for a picture of a one-horse open sleigh on the internet or in a Christmas magazine to inspire the shape, color, and design you'd like your sleigh to be.

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2. Sketch the pattern for your DIY wood sleigh

Outline your desired actual size for one side of the sleigh on two separate sheets of plywood.

Create Your Wood Sleigh

1. Cut out the sides of the sleigh

Use the jigsaw to cut the drawing out of the plywood. Smooth the edges of the cut plywood with sandpaper.

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Tip

Wear protective eyeglasses and gloves when working with wood and power tools.

2. Cut and attach the bottom braces

Cut two pieces of 2-inch by 10-inch lumber, each between 30 and 35 inches long, to serve as the braces for the bottom of the sleigh. Use a drill to screw each brace to the bottom of each plywood side securely.

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Tip

Ask someone to hold the wood in place while you do this, if necessary.

3. Cut and attach the front and back braces

Cut out four 2-inch by 4-inch pieces of lumber to serve as the sleigh's front and back panel braces. Screw two braces to the front of the sleigh and two to the back of the sleigh, attaching each top-to-bottom and directly across from the other on each plywood side.

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4. Make the sleigh seat

Form the seat of the sleigh by cutting a piece of plywood the same width as the sleigh's bottom braces. Cut a brace for each side of the seat from 2-inch by 4-inch pieces of lumber, attaching each to the plywood front-to-back and directly across from the other.

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5. Fabricate front and back panels

Create the sleigh's front and back panels by making two equally-sized cuts of plywood that are the same width as the sleigh.

6. Assemble the sleigh

Attach the front and back panels to the corresponding ends of the sleigh using exterior screws. Mount the seat to the sleigh using exterior screws and attach a 1-inch by 2-inch brace to the runners.

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7. Paint the sleigh

Paint the one-horse open sleigh with the colors of your choice and allow time to dry.

Tip

Make sure you use a primer before adding colored paint. You may need to apply two coats of paint to fully and evenly cover the sleigh.

Display Your Sleigh

Choose a location in your front lawn to place and display your sleigh and position it accordingly. Decorate the sleigh with sleigh bells, holly and any other festive materials you may have around your home.

Tip

This sleigh is for decoration only and is not designed to support an actual horse or passengers.

You don't need to limit your holiday decor to Christmas trees and snowmen. Whether you opted to make a DIY Santa sleigh or horse sleigh, this Christmas project is a fun way to add a full-size decoration to your yard decor. Find a sleigh design you love, draw the outline on plywood and cut out the sides of the sleigh. Add the additional pieces of the sleigh, including the seat to make a realistic horse sleigh for your yard.

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