DIY Santa Sleigh: Looking to build your own Santa Sleigh? Here’s everything you need to know to build your own DIY Santa’s Sleigh for your kids this year! Our kids absolutely love this DIY wooden sleigh and have had a blast pretending to be elves! See all the materials and directions below to make your own!
DIY SANTA SLEIGH
*This post has been sponsored by Krylon® Brand. All thoughts and opinions are mine alone.
- (3) spray paint colors:
- (1 can) Krylon® ColorMaster™ Paint + Primer – 25% More Satin Black
- (2 cans) Krylon® ColorMaster™ Paint + Primer – 25% More Gloss Cherry Red
- (1 can) Krylon® ColorMaster™ Paint + Primer – 25% More Metallic Gold
- (4) sheets of plywood- we used 11/32″ thickness
- (5-6) 2x4s
- 1-¼” drywall screws.
- box cutter
- cardboard or rosin paper (see below under templates)
- permanent marker
- 80 grit sandpaper
- circular saw
Ok, this was a really fun build! It was different from most of our projects in that it was meant to be a “quick and dirty build.” This is a fun Christmas decoration–not a piece of fine furniture! So it was really fun to go into this project without a fully detailed plan and not knowing exactly how it was going to turn out. We couldn’t be happier with the results and we’re already getting compliments from the neighbors! Below we’ve broken down the process into five sections, so you can easily build your own!
Making the Templates for Santa’s Sleigh:
One of the trickiest parts of this build was drawing the full-scale shapes of the reindeer and sleigh. We ended up using chalk to free-hand sketch the outlines onto large sheets of cardboard. The chalk worked really well because if we didn’t like the way one part looked it was easy to erase it and draw it again.
Once we were happy with the shapes we cut out the outlines with a box cutter. Honestly, if I could do it over, I would try to find some kind of cardboard or heavy paper (like rosin paper) that I could cut with scissors. The cardboard we used was corrugated and super thick and it was kind of difficult to cut and the edges were pretty ragged. Nevertheless, it all turned out fine in the end. We made one template each for the sleigh, the reindeer, and the two decorative gold scrolls that attach to the sleigh sides.
TIP: To scale-up the reindeer we used the “grid method” where you draw a grid over the image you want to scale-up, then draw a large grid on the cardboard then copy each square from the small grid to the large grid. It’s the easiest method to make an image larger if you don’t have use of a projector!
Once we had the templates cut out, we laid them (the five reindeer, the sides of the sleigh, and the decorative scrolls) on top of the first sheet of plywood and tried to nest them together fitting as many figures on one sheet of plywood as possible. We used a permanent marker to trace the templates onto the plywood which left a nice dark mark that was easy to see when cutting the pieces out. We ended up being able to fit one sleigh side, one reindeer, and two scroll pieces on one 4×8 sheet of plywood. We marked and cut two sheets of plywood like this since we wanted our sleigh to have two sides. The third piece of plywood could only fit three more reindeer – so that’s how we ended up with five reindeer!
Cutting the templates out:
We used a jigsaw to cut all the pieces out which was easy, it just took some time.
TIP: Don’t be afraid to replace the blade if it feels like it’s getting dull part way through cutting out the pieces. A new blade can make all the difference!
After cutting out the pieces with the jigsaw, we very quickly sanded any rough edges with 80 grit paper just to take down any splintering or jagged edges.
Finally, we cut out one circle about 4” diameter to paint bright red for Rudolph’s nose–using a yogurt container top out of the recycling bin right there in the garage. Feel free to use whatever circular template you want for the desired diameter circle for Rudolph’s nose!
Making the reindeer fly:
We really wanted to make the reindeer look like they were taking off into the night sky. To do this we came up with the idea to attach them to one long 16 foot piece of 2×4 (you can usually find a 16’ long 2×4 at the home center;) but, if you can’t (or you don’t want to drive home with a 2×4 as long as your car) you can also just splice (2) 8-ft. long 2x4s together with a couple scraps of plywood like we did.
To determine the height and angle I laid the long support on the floor of the garage and arranged the reindeer on top of it to see how they should be spaced out and what angle looked best. I settled on a 10-degree slope for the reindeer support. To hold the support at this angle I cut-out a 42″ and an 18″ vertical supports. Those are then screwed to a 4’ long 2×4 using some scrap plywood to brace the corners. All the scrap plywood was just cut from the pieces leftover from between the reindeer and sleigh cutouts.
Making Santa’s Sleigh:
We didn’t really have a plan for how to put the sleigh together when we started but it still turned out great. Depending on the sleigh shape you chose, you might need to assemble the sleigh a bit differently; but, the same principles apply. First, we knew we wanted a floor, so we put one of the sleigh sides up on the sawhorses, and cut a 2×4 to support the floor along the bottom edge of the sleigh above the runner.
Next, we knew we wanted a seat; but, we didn’t know how high to make it. So we ended up measuring a couple of small chairs the kids have in their playroom to determine the optimal dimensions. These were 11 inches off the floor and 10 inches deep – so I added more 2×4 braces to support the seat and seatback.
We also wanted to add a front to the sleigh, so we cut a 2×4 to support the front. All these cuts were done by hand with a circular saw–again, quick and dirty.
To do the second side to the sleigh, we cut the second set of 2×4 braces the same sizes as the first. We laid them right on top of the first pieces and then placed the second side on top of that making sure to line up the sleigh sides and support pieces. Then we could just screw right into the second set of supports from the top – and voila – two mirror-image sleigh sides!
The two sleigh sides are connected with plywood screwed into the 2×4 supports. We picked 32 inches for the width by eye as it seemed like the right proportion. I used the circular saw to rip the 4th piece of plywood to 32 inches and then cross-cut the floor (22”x32”), seat (10”x32”), seatback (14”x32”), and front (24”x32”) to length and screwed them into place.
Spray painting everything:
We started by painting the sleigh red as it was the largest surface area. As always, remember to read the spray paint label for safety and application instructions before beginning to spray paint. And of course, always spray paint in a well-ventilated area.
We used Krylon® ColorMaster™ Paint + Primer – 25% More Gloss Cherry Red for the sleigh, so we were able to skip priming the plywood, which saved a lot of time. While we thought it would take five or more cans to cover the sleigh red, we were blown away by the fact that we only used two cans! Krylon spray paint really covers well!
We then painted the runners black using Krylon® ColorMaster™ Paint + Primer – 25% More Satin Black. To produce a straight line, we used a piece of cardboard as a hand-held shield to keep spray paint off of areas we wanted black. It produced a nice sharp line and was way quicker than using painter’s tape! Just make sure to cover all the red areas of the sleigh with the cardboard, so there is no overspray.
Next, we spray painted the gold decorative scrolls using Krylon® ColorMaster™ Paint + Primer – 25% More Metallic Gold, which produced amazing results. The gold really pops against the bright red sleigh.
The reindeer support was painted black using Krylon® ColorMaster™ Paint + Primer – 25% More Satin Black so it would fade into the background. It only took two light coats for the support to be fully covered!
Finally, we painted Rudolph’s nose red and screwed it in place once it dried. It was a fun playful touch to the DIY sleigh and is one of our favorite parts of the entire build!
By using two light coats on everything, we were able to spray paint the entire sleigh and all the components in less than 20 minutes. Spray paint really is the fastest way to get the color that you want–it’s why we love it! All the sleigh components were dry to the touch within 10 minutes and hard enough to handle in one hour.
Finishing Touches on Santa’s Sleigh:
We added a plaid blanket to the seat and tied a red rope to each reindeer to make a reign. Then we let the kids come out! They were over the moon! Like we said above, the best part of this project is that it is meant to be fun! Seeing the joy on the kids’ faces as they pretended to pack the sleigh with the presents and order the reindeer about made it all worth it! All the neighbor kids have come over to play in it too, which has been a great distraction from the cold weather this time of year!