By Gene and Katie Hamilton
This charming reindeer is made entirely of firewood and kindling material. It is a perfect lawn ornament for any house during the holidays. You can make one reindeer, or fashion a herd of them once you learn the easy steps to follow.
Finding the appropriate parts for the reindeer involves walking through the woods or looking over a wood pile. It's an enjoyable job for everyone. We've noted the diameter of the wood used in the Shopping and Cutting Lists to give you an idea of the sizes of wood to look for, but don't let our dimensions stifle your creativity. You might want to use larger pieces for the body and head. Or you might decide that the antlers should be longer or more stately. That's the fun of creating your reindeer: He's a one-of- a-kind individual.
You'll note from the list that you're look- ing for various sizes of wood and branches, the branches being the more challenging. You need to find four of them about the same diameter for the legs, and they should be as straight as possible. Exact dimensions for the head, body, legs, and antlers don't have to be strictly followed; just try to cut the leg branches the same length.
The holes drilled for the legs are angled so that the reindeer will stand upright, and the antlers are angled outward from the face. Use our plan as a guide for where to drill holes, but use your imagination, too. It's your reindeer!
The logs that make up the body and head can be cut to length with a regular handsaw, but a bow saw or pruning saw will make this job a lot easier. The cheeks are formed by chopping away some of the bark from each side of the head log. If you don't have a hatchet, you can cut the cheeks with a saw. Start cutting at the front of the log. Cut just below the bark, and position the saw so that it cuts at an angle toward the bark to form a V as you cut into the log.
The neck and legs fit into holes drilled in the body log. Choose the best side of your log, and drill the hole for the neck first. Use a drill bit slightly smaller in diameter than the neck branch (D). We used inexpensive spade bits and a 3/8-inch electric drill to make all the holes. The drilling should be handled by the master carpenter on this project, while the apprentice supervises the operation. Be sure to wear eye protection while drilling holes.
The neck hole is drilled at a slight for- ward angle, about 10 degrees. Drill this hole at least 3 inches deep, then test-fit the branch. You should have to whittle away some bark and wood to get a good, snug fit.
It is better to drill a small hole and cut the branch down to fit than to drill an oversized hole in the log and have a loose-fitting neck or leg.
Next, turn the body over, making sure that the neck hole is facing straight down, and then drill the leg holes. They are located about I inch from each end of the log and a couple of inches to each side of the center line. Angle the holes out about 10 degrees. Drill these four holes the same depth so that, all four of the reindeer's legs will touch the ground evenly.
Use a chisel to whittle the ends of the legs until they fit in the holes, and check that each leg seats properly in its hole. Turn the reindeer over and stand him up. If the legs aren't exactly the same length, rotate them slightly in their holes. Since the leg branches are not exactly straight, turning the legs slightly is usually all that is necessary to make your reindeer stand upright.
The head is installed on the neck in the same way- Drill a hole in the bottom of the head log I inch or so from the back. The slightly smaller than the diameter of the antler branches so that the branches will fit snugly. Hold them in place and drill holes at an angle to match the position wanted. The tail is made from another small branch and is installed like the other branches at the back end of the body log.
To dress your reindeer for the holidays, tie a colorful bow or bandanna around his neck.
Two to three hours for cutting, building, and assembling, plus drying time for glue.