How to make a wooden reindeer from logs

Wooden reindeer from logs

Our simple instructions tell you how you can use your chainsaw to build a wooden reindeer out of logs and branches.

How to make a wooden reindeer from logs: selecting the wood

You can use any coniferous or hardwood logs for your DIY wooden reindeer’s head and body, and the logs you choose determine how large your wooden reindeer will be. Thin logs or thicker branches work well for the legs and neck, while delicate, forked branches make great antlers.

Tip: You can make your wooden reindeer lawn ornament more stable by gluing it together during assembly. Glue doesn’t work well on damp wood though, so we advise using dry wood for your wooden log reindeer. If you only have damp logs available, put the pieces together first and then add glue when they’re dry. The drier the logs you use the better, as it means less risk of cracking.

Full DIY power

Chainsaws for building your reindeer from logs

Crafting your own Christmas decorations is even more fun if you have the right tools to hand

Recommended products: MSA 160 C-B >  MS 170 >  MS 211 >  MS 231 >

A stack of wooden logs

Committed to your safety: protective equipment

Making things with powerful tools is fun and means you can extend your abilities, which is great as long as you are relying on effective and safe protective clothing while using them. Always wear personal protective equipment when working with your chainsaw. This includes a helmet, cut protection trousers, safety boots, and more. The operating manual for your product (SUPPORT LINK) contains more details on this. Fully familiarise yourself with the tool before you use your chainsaw for the first time, and check it is in flawless condition before each use. On request, your STIHL dealer will be happy to prepare your tool for its first use, and will also advise you on models and sizes of protective clothing that you can try at your leisure. Please remember that personal protective equipment is no substitute for safe working techniques.

Illustration: equipment for building a log reindeer, including chainsaw, logs, drill, folding ruler, wood glue
For the body • Log, approx. 20 cm in diameter
For the head • Log, approx. 10 to 12 cm in diameter • Forked branches for antlers
For the legs and neck • Thick branches or thin logs,
Decoration ideas for the wooden reindeer • A homemade hat or woollen scarf
Tools • STIHL chainsaw • STIHL pruning saw • Secateurs • Drill with wood drill bits • Wood glue, folding ruler, vice • Hammer, angle grinder • Workbench or sawhorse • Tensioning belt for securing

Plans for building a wooden reindeer with logs

This homemade wooden reindeer outdoor decoration is easy to make and will get everyone who sees it feeling the Christmas spirit. With a little time and patience, you can build your own reindeer using just a few tree trunks and tools.

1. Cut the body log to length

Place the thickest log on a workbench or sawhorse.

Measure a length of approx. 60 cm and mark the log with a pen or a small cut with your chainsaw.

Fix the wood to the workbench with the tensioning belt in such a way that the end to be cut off protrudes over the edge of the workbench.

Using the chainsaw, first saw about three-quarters of the way through the log where you marked it. If you try to cut all the way through there is a risk of the wood breaking; instead, cut the last part from below, or turn the log over. We recommend using a sharp chain so your wooden log is cut cleanly.

Illustration: The fixed log is cut to length with a STIHL chainsaw

2. Drill holes in the body section

Fix the wooden log securely to your workbench.

Drill four holes in the log for the legs; these should be slightly angled towards the middle of the log and 5 cm deep. This will ensure that the legs stand at a slight angle and give the wooden reindeer a more stable footing.

Turn the log over and drill a further hole for the neck. This should also be on a slight diagonal so that the head will look straight ahead.

Tip: The appropriate drill bit to use is one that is slightly smaller than the thickness of the logs or branches you are using for the legs and neck.

Illustration: The drill is used to drill holes for the reindeer's legs and neck

3. Cut the legs and neck

Cut a thick branch or thin log for the four legs and neck. Make sure this is as uniform in diameter as possible.

For the legs, use a pruning saw to cut lengths of about 40 cm each.

In addition to the four equal pieces for the legs, cut an extra section 20 cm long to

 make the reindeer’s neck.

Illustration: Branches for legs and neck are cut to length with a pruning saw

4. Adjust the legs and neck

Clamp the thin branches in a vice so that they don’t move while you’re working.

Use an angle grinder to taper one end of each of the legs and both ends of the neck.

Don’t taper the wooden pieces too much. Check whether the pieces fit in their respective holes in the body log from time to time so that the reindeer is not wobbly when it stands.

Illustration: In a vice the ends of the branches are sharpened with an angle grinder

5. Assemble the reindeer’s body

If you’re using dry logs to make your wooden reindeer, you can put some wood glue straight into the four drilled holes and use a hammer to gently tap the legs into the body.

Once the glue has dried, you can stand the wooden reindeer up. Glue the neck and push it into the body log by gently tapping it with a hammer.

Remove any excess wood glue by wiping it away with a damp cloth.

If the wood you’re using is still damp, you can assemble the parts without glue. If the legs become wobbly once the wood has dried, you can glue them into position later.

Illustration: The wooden reindeer is assembled

6. Cut the head to size

Fix the middle-sized log onto the workbench and mark a length of around 25 cm.

Saw approximately three-quarters of the way through the log from the top; turn the log over to saw through the rest of the thickness. 

Illustration: The smaller trunk piece for the reindeer is cut to length on the workbench

7. Drill holes in the head section

Drill a hole for the neck in the bottom of the head log. This should be drilled straight, so that your DIY wooden reindeer holds its head at a natural angle.

Turn the log over and use a smaller drill bit to make two holes for the antlers. These should be angled slightly towards the centre of the log.

Illustration: Holes for neck and antler are drilled into the fixed stem piece

8. Make and mount the antlers

Use pruning shears to remove all leaves and smaller twigs from the antler branches until you’re happy with how they look.

Secure the delicate branches in the vice, using a cloth to protect them from damage.

Taper the lower point of each branch using an angle grinder.

Finally, attach the head log to the neck. Don’t forget to avoid using glue on wood that’s still damp. Push the antlers into the pre-drilled holes.

Illustration: The branches for the reindeer antlers are prepared and mounted on the head

Christmassy accessories for your homemade outdoor wooden reindeer

Your wooden log reindeer is finished and ready to add to your outdoor Christmas decorations. If you like, you can wrap a scarf around its neck, or give it a Santa hat. Your log reindeer would obviously love to have friends of different sizes.

Summary: how to make a wooden reindeer from logs 

  • Opt for coniferous wood or hardwood to build your DIY reindeer
  • Ideally, use dry wood for your chainsaw-built reindeer
  • Always wear your personal protective equipment when working with your chainsaw. You can find details in the operating instructions for your tool (LINK SUPPORT)
  • Start by cutting the body to length and drilling holes for the legs and neck
  • Next, assemble your DIY wooden reindeer and cut the head to length
  • Finally, add the antlers and accessories
  • You can easily make these outdoor wooden reindeer in different sizes. They make ideal lawn ornaments for Christmas decoration

How do you make wooden reindeer?

To make a wooden reindeer, you just need a few logs in different sizes: a large one for the body; a slightly smaller one for the head; and thin straight stems for the limbs. You’ll also need a couple of branches for antlers. With just a bit of drilling and shaping, you’ll have a seasonal mascot in no time!

How do you make wooden reindeer out of logs?

To make a wooden reindeer out of logs, you need to collect your raw materials in different sizes: a large log for the body; a slightly smaller one for the head; and thin straight stems for the limbs. You’ll also need a couple of branches for antlers. With some judicious cutting and drilling to put it together, your reindeer will soon take shape.