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Thread: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

  1. #1
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    Default Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    I'm currently restoring a small cutter 2 person 1 horse sleigh. It's amazing how similar the work is to boat building. I'm restoring it to original specs and materials. It will be a Christmas decoration, but fully functional (but I don't have a horse!). This one doesn't have compound curves, so the construction is fairly straightforward.

    After this one, I'd like to do a larger Santa styled sleigh, but it will have several compound curves.

    Has anyone here built/restored a sleigh? Most of the originals were several thin laminations like plywood over forms. I could use 3 or 4 layers of 3mm marine ply or cedar strip.

    Any ideas or suggestions are appreciated!

    Thanks!

    Scott

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    I once built a sleigh bed for clients. I don't think they ever put it out in the snow.

    Jeff

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    Albany cutter? If so, post pix! I am horseless since this past spring, but I always wanted a sleigh for my mare. My gelding would never have put up with it: "What the h*** are you doing sitting back there in that box? Get your lazy butt up into the saddle where it belongs."

    Always wanted to restore a cutter, but out here where it doesn't snow enough to make sleighs practical, I never found one to work on.

    Alex

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    I once built a freight sled for dogs to haul lumber to a remote Alaskan cabin site. It did its job until it crashed into a tree at high speed and broke the musher's arm.

    Here it is after being abandoned and left in the woods for thirty years


    years.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    You could ask Santa.

    Rick

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    More likely the Elves, Rick

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    Scott, you might find this book interesting..

    HORSE DRAWN SLEIGHS, 2nd edition

    http://www.woodworkerslibrary.com/mi...s-2nd-edition/
    Structures without reference to geometry tend toward the ramshackle

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mo 'Poxy View Post
    I once built a freight sled for dogs to haul lumber to a remote Alaskan cabin site. It did its job until it crashed into a tree at high speed and broke the musher's arm.

    Here it is after being abandoned and left in the woods for thirty years.
    Yeah, jingle bells ain't all it's made out to be. All that 'dashing through the snow' stuff always sounded a bit risky. It's all fun and games until Santa breaks an arm...
    When I first joined WBF they made me write a book to prove I was a real yachty. I was so gullible.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    Quote Originally Posted by brucemoffatt View Post
    Yeah, jingle bells ain't all it's made out to be. All that 'dashing through the snow' stuff always sounded a bit risky. It's all fun and games until Santa breaks an arm...
    The speed he has to travel to get right around the world in one night, it's a wonder this doesn't happen more often..

    Structures without reference to geometry tend toward the ramshackle

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    Albany cutter?
    I had to Google this, never having heard the term. Its cool!


    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    We have a one-horse cutter on the farm, still serviceable. We trained a horse for it when I was a teenage, and drove it using light harness.

    Yes, they are built of veneer, like cabinetry from that era, only it must have been hot-mold work to get the curves. There's hardly a straight line on the body.

    The best way to clean off the bottom of the runners when they're rusty is to drive over a ball of frozen horse turds. Noisy, but perfect!

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    Building an actual usable sleigh would be a fun project. And the use of one, in my imagination, would be great fun. (please note: my imagination leaves things out the unpleasant tasks associated with keeping a horse) But I'm not moving back to a snow area for love nor money.

    For a project like this, a vacuum press and bending ply would be your friend.

    Jeff

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    cutter.jpgHere is the cutter I'll restore next summer. Thanks for all the replies! I'll definitely check out that book!

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    Here is the one I'm currently restoring. It was so eaten up by powder post beetles you could crush some pieces with your bare hands. Most of the body was poplar. I'm rebuilding using poplar for the sides, seat supports, back and front, and white oak for the part of the floor where your feet will be and all the structural parts. Runners are too worn/rusted/pitted to use, so I have new steel coming.
    sleigh.jpg

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    Carriage construction always struck me as the most refined form of woodworking from an engineering perspective. They had to be as light as possible and withstand all sorts of abuse. Move up to the big coaches and you've got some finely crafted pieces carrying a lot of weight.They were often elegant, too. With few exceptions, boatbuilders never had such weight constraints.
    -Dave

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    SWEET! Those are really beautiful. I hope you post more about the project as you go.

    Alex

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    The short answer..yes.If you follow a format to a known sleigh,you can even get the pre-bent parts to the base,which is the most important thing...like the foundation to the house.The upper could even be formed in a mold,using epoxy laminating resin.If going traditional,the upper is based on a internal framework,so using traditional wood working,or using laminated marine plywood would work ,also.alex cutter.jpgThis is a copy of the Mclaughlin Cutter,circa 1906.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    This drawing doesn't include the small metal tee braces at the base of each leg,nor the metal skid rails.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    runners might be iron, which somebody would appreciate...

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    they are almost universally wood,with steel skid rails screwed on.
    A modern version would be bent mild steel tube,wooden cross joists,and a epoxy laminated box.It would be heavier,which defeats the idea to eliminate weight.There isn't anything like the silence of a wooden cutter zipping through the snow

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    I had 3 differing horse drawn vehicles,a Mclaughlin doctors buggy,with top,a Mclaughlin Cutter, and a sprung One seat cart.They all followed a pattern of construction---mortise and tenon frame,with a floating box...in the wheeled vehicles,the passenger box floated on springs,and was built around a wooden subframe, which allowed the use of smaller boards to follow curvatures.

    \

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    here is a link to an albany cutter restoration which you may have seen.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkByTZhMKac

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Odd request: Anyone ever build a sleigh?

    Mom and her brothers went to school in one of these caboose1.jpg

    and something different Moose Sleigh NB.jpg

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