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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

    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/
    Somewhere between Murder and Suicide, there is a place called Merseyside.

  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.
    Paperback E-book

  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..

    Somewhere between Murder and Suicide, there is a place called Merseyside.

  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?

    I recall in the late 90's in Wisconsin I did a bunch of work for a contractor who had restored a sleigh as a hobby.

    I choked when he told me how much he'd invested in it, and what he thought it was worth.

    Then again I'd seen plenty in pictures as a kid, but seeing one up close in real life really impressed me.

    Lightweight and curvy but springy and very strong.

    Bending ply and a vacuum presses did not exist when sleighs and wagons were the pinnacle of terrestrial transportation. no doubt it was originally built with just hand tools.

  14. #14
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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!

  15. #15
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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

  16. #16
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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

  17. #17
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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

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