DIY Decorative Wooden Sled – Free Pattern

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DIY decorative sled close up

A sled makes a great holiday or winter decoration and can be perfect for placing on a front porch. We wanted one that would sit on our porch and go along with other holiday-themed items. We were able to create a vintage-looking ram’s horn sled that looks like it’s ready for the snow and fits the occasion perfectly. Of course, using it for sledding won’t be possible since it’s only decorative!

While we chose to display ours on the front porch, this sled will look great anywhere. It would be a perfect complement to your indoor Christmas decorations if you have room for it. No matter how or where you display it, this simple sled is sure to turn heads and be a hit with your visitors.

You’ll only need a small list of items to complete this build along with a little know-how for using tools and getting it done.

This sled measures approximately 36 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 11 1/4 inches tall at its tallest point. The seat of the sled is 8 1/4 inches off the ground.

Side view of finished sled

You can download my free pattern and read the instructions of how I created mine below.

NOTE: This is only a decorative sled and not intended to be used for sledding purposes.

Parts You’ll Need

  • Pattern for the sled rails and supports (download above)
  • 1″ x 12″ – 8ft pine board (or whatever wood you prefer)
  • 1″ x 2″ – 8ft boards (2)
  • 3/8″ dowel – 12 inches
  • Wood glue
  • 1/4″ dowels (for joining pieces together)
  • Sandpaper
  • Tools (Jigsaw, Miter saw)
  • Stain
  • Polyurethane
  • Drill with bits
  • Dowel jig
  • Clamps
  • Time & patience 🙂

Step 1 – Cut Out All The Pieces

The first step in the process is to cut all the pieces that you will need. Once these are cut, it will just be a matter of putting them all together. The pattern will give you the details on what you need to cut as well as an exact template that you can place onto your wood for the sled rails and supports.

You can simply place these patterns onto your wood using some painter’s tape or any other method that you choose. You’ll only need to print out one rail and one support. Once these are cut, you can use those to trace a second of each.

Using a jigsaw to cut out sled rail

You’ll end up with the following:

  • (2) Sled rails
  • (2) Sled seat supports
  • (2) 27 5/8″ wooden pieces for the outer seat
  • (3) 22 1/2″ wooden pieces for the inner part of the seat
  • (1) 3/8″ dowel – 10 1/2″

Step 2 – Sand and Clean Up

Now that all the pieces are cut, it’s a perfect time to sand each one and make it look like you want it. You may even want to route the edges to give it a more rounded look. I used an orbital sander on mine and rounded the edges off in a non-uniform way so it would look more rustic.

To make each rail and support the same, you can clamp them together and sand them at the same time. By doing this, you’ll be able to get the outer edges of the rails exactly the same.

Sanding both sled rails

You’ll want to do the bulk of the sanding in this stage since it will be easy to get to each piece. Once everything is assembled, you can go over it lightly one final time before finishing it.

Step 2 – Assemble The Sled

With all the pieces cut to the proper dimensions, you can now begin to assemble them all together.

Rails & Supports

To begin, you can assemble the rails to the supports. I chose to use dowels to hold these together. If you are going this route, I would suggest using 1/4″ dowels and you will get the best results if you have a jig for these. An inexpensive one can be purchased for less than $10.

Attaching supports to rails using dowels

You can also choose to use screws or another method for attaching these together. However, dowel joinery is among the strongest that you will find in woodworking so it makes sense to use it here.

Front Dowel

For the front dowel, it should look like the metal rod often seen on the front of sleds. This metal rod provides support, stability, and a place to attach the rope. Rather than using a real metal rod, a quarter-inch dowel works perfectly.

Drilling dowel hole into front

The dowel should be approximately 10 1/2 inches long to fit in between the front rails and into 3/8″ holes on each side.

To attach the dowel, you’ll need a 3/8″ bit. I used a Forstner bit to make a clean hole and I drilled 1/4″ into the wood on each side. Be sure and test this on a scrap piece of wood first to make sure your dowel will fit snugly. Once you have the holes drilled, you can glue this into place and then clamp and let it dry overnight.

Clamping front dowel

Since this sled will not see any kind of usage and is only a decorative piece, once painted, the dowel will provide a believable metal rod.


The seat of the sled consists of 1″ x 2″ inch boards. In total, five boards are used across the entire seating area. The two outer boards are longer and attach to the front ram horns to provide additional stability. All of these boards are attached using 1/4″ dowels.

Attaching seat boards with dowels

The spacing for the planks on the seat is 3/4 inches between each one. A good way to measure this is to install the two outer ones first. Once installed, find the center and install the center board. Once the center board has been installed the additional two boards can be installed in between leaving a three-quarter-inch gap on each side.

Clamped seat boards on sled

If yours doesn’t match exactly, you can easily adjust it as needed. This is meant to be a rustic-looking sled so it doesn’t need to be perfect. I used dowels on all boards and I glued and clamped them all as I waited for them to fully dry.

Once all of these pieces are assembled, you will have an extremely sturdy sled, especially considering it is just a decorative one. It is now time to get it ready for the staining and final finish.

Step 3 – Final Sanding

Once your sled has been assembled you can do a final sanding to ensure that no scuff marks or glue have gotten onto the wood. It’s important that you remove any glue left behind if you intend to stain your sled. If you do not, the stain will likely not penetrate the areas where glue remains and will cause a visible defect area.

Be sure and check it over well and sand all areas where you know that glue has dripped or squeezed out when you were assembling all of the pieces.

For my final sanding, I used 320-grit sandpaper to give it an extra smooth finish.

Step 4 – Staining & Painting

For the stain, I used a combination of Dark Honey and Natural. The honey was a little too dark so I lightened it up by mixing it with the natural. I ended up with a finish that I was happy with and would give me the rustic look I was going for.

The stain or color you choose is totally up to you so finish it however you choose.

The front dowel will need to be painted to look like metal. To achieve this look, we used a combination of paints: Liquitex Ivory Black and Liquitex Bronze. A combination of these comes pretty close to real metal.

Metal rod on sled

Step 5 – Finial Protective Coat

To protect your sled, especially if it will be outdoors, you will want to put some type of protective finish on it. Besides protecting it, this finish will also give it a nice glossy shine and complete the look of a well-crafted sled. I chose to use acrylic gloss clear spray from Rustoleum. This takes a little bit of work to make sure you have gotten in all the cracks and crevices and that all parts of the sled are covered.

Be careful not to put too much on in one coat. You don’t want runs or areas that have more product than other areas. Sanding between coats isn’t totally necessary but you may want to do it once along the way. I sanded mine after the second coat of gloss finish. This will just help to remove any wood grain or areas that have risen after the finish has been applied.

It will allow you to get a smoother finish in the end. In total, I put five coats of protective clear gloss on my sled. Hopefully, this will do the trick in protecting it over time as it sits outdoors on my porch during the holiday season.

Finished sled with glossy finish


This is a fun little project that can give you an additional holiday decoration that certainly goes with the season. It’s cheap to make and only requires minimal tools and will last for many years to come as long as you do not use it as an actual sled.

This decorative piece can be customized to your needs and finished in any way you wish. It may also be fun to make it even more rustic and add nicks and little damaged areas here and there to simulate an older vintage sled.

Whichever way you choose to finish yours, hopefully, it will add a nice decorative touch to your holiday season decorations.