DIY Sled Ornament

This mini sled ornament is the perfect addition to any seasonal vignette, and making it was a lovely little project for a novice woodworker like myself. You do need a few tools, but nothing more exotic than a jig saw and drill.

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The House that Will | DIY Sled Ornament

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Materials

  • For the runners: 0.5m (20") planed timber approx 18-25mm (¾-1") thickness and at least 160mm (6.5")  wide
  • For the bed: 1.5m (60") planed timer approx 18mm (¾") thickness. I cut mine to 90mm (2.5") width, but if you want to avoid doing that, just buy the closest size you can from the hardward store (the exact size is not critical) e.g. my local hardware store sells 94mm widths
  • Jig saw (or scroll saw if you're lucky enough to have one!)
  • Sander (sandpaper is fine if you don't have a sander)
  • Hammer
  • 30mm (1⅛") long nails
  • Jute rope (about 0.5m/20" length)
  • Four screws approx 3mm (⅛") diameter and 40mm (1.5") long
  • Drill
  • Drill bits: one that is a little wider than the thickness of your rope, and two others to match your screws (see below) - one approx 3mm and another approx 6mm (⅛" & ¼")
  • Paint and/or wood stain*
  • Paintbrush
  • Pencil & paper
  • Printer (optional to print out the template for the curve)

I designed my sled to go in a particular spot in our home, so I made it to measure, and that required cutting the boards to a custom size. If you prefer to skip that step, you can just use the nearest readily-available size boards available from your hardware store. I have provided all the measurements that I used, but the only critical measurement is that the five boards that make up the bed are three times longer than the width, and that the length of the runners can accommodate them. Please also note that all imperial measurements are approximate conversions from metric and are offered as a guide only.

*You could also do as I did and create a silvered weathered effect using a homemade oxidising wood stain.

Cutting the Wood

Runners

The only tricky part of making the sled is the curve at the front of the runners, so let's get that out of the way first. I used a set of French curves to work out the curve on paper first - but you can conveniently skip that step and click here to download the template I designed. Print it out onto a sheet of paper.

The House that Will | DIY Sled Ornament

To transfer the curve from paper onto the wood, trace heavily around it so that it leaves an impression on the wood. Then use a pencil to go over the lines to make it easier to see. 

The House that Will | DIY Sled Ornament

 Including the curve, the runners are 43cm (17") long from front to back and 4.5cm (1¾") wide. I rounded the corners at the back of the runners too.

Use the jig saw to cut out the shape of the runners. Then sand the edges to round the shape more and get rid of any jagged splinters. 

The House that Will | DIY Sled Ornament
Left: after cutting with jig saw but before sanding. Right: after cutting with jig saw and sanding.

Next, drill a hole into the front each runner at the position marked by a dot on the template. This hole should be wide enough for your rope to thread through. 

The House that Will | DIY Sled Ornament

Bed 

The bed is made up of five boards; three for the top of the bed itself, and two for the support struts underneath. Each of these boards are 27cm (10⅔") long and 9cm (3.5") wide. As I mentioned in the materials listing, if you can't cut the wood to 9cm widths, then use the nearest size you can get from the store. The important thing to note here is that the length of each board should be three times the width. 

The House that Will | DIY Sled Ornament

Construction

Start by attaching the runners to the support struts using the four screws. To do that, we need to use a drill to make a channel for the screws because the goal is that the screw will end up half-way up inside the runners with enough left over to grip the support struts, as demonstrated here:

The House that Will | DIY Sled Ornament

Mark the position on each runner where the struts will sit. On my sleigh, I marked for the front strut at 25cm (9⅞") from the back edge of the runner and I marked for the rear strut at 7cm (2¾") from the back edge of the runner. 

The House that Will | DIY Sled Ornament

We will need to drill each of the four holes twice using two different-sized drill bits: one drill bit the same diameter as the screw thread and another drill bit the same diameter as the head of the screw. The bits I used were 3mm and 6mm (⅛" & ¼").

The House that Will | DIY Sled Ornament

First drill all the way through the runners using the smaller drill bit. This is the pilot hole to prevent the wood from splitting when we screw through it.

The House that Will | DIY Sled Ornament

Next drill half-way though the same holes, starting from the bottom of the runners using the larger drill bit. This will make the channel for the screw. A handy tip is to mark the drill bit at the desired depth i.e. about half the width of the runners.

The House that Will | DIY Sled Ornament

The House that Will | DIY Sled Ornament

Place the struts on your work surface and lay the upside-down runners perpendicular across them. Screw through holes at the bottom of the runners and down through the strut boards. 

The House that Will | DIY Sled Ornament

There will still be some play in the structure, so make sure everything is square before proceeding to the next step.

The House that Will | DIY Sled Ornament

Next place the remaining three bed boards across the top and nail into position using the 3cm (1⅛") nails. I allowed the bed boards to overhang the support struts by 3.5cm (1⅜") at the front and back.

The House that Will | DIY Sled Ornament

At this point, the construction of your sled is complete. 

Finishing Touches

Paint your sled in the colour scheme of your choice. I used a light grey paint for the runners and support struts and I treated the bed boards using a homemade oxidising wood stain. Click here to read about my Homemade Weathered Wood Stain.

The House that Will | DIY Sled Ornament

The House that Will | DIY Sled Ornament

Finally, thread a length of the jute rope through the holes at the front of the runners and tie a knot at each end. If you have difficulty threading the rope through the holes, try wrapping the ends tightly in tape to keep the strands together.

The House that Will | DIY Sled Ornament

You can style your sled by piling it high with presents, sitting a favourite toy on it, arranging a lantern on top or, as I did here, a mini evergreen tree.

The House that Will | DIY Sled Ornament

The House that Will | DIY Sled Ornament

I hope this fun project will also encourage you to try your hand at some woodwork. The great thing about this project is that the results don't have to be perfect. Mine certainly isn't, but any imperfections just enhance the simple rustic style of this pretty ornament. 

 norma

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