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RWW 189 Bandsaw Reindeer by Hand

a couple of years ago

fret sawn reindeerThe bandsaw reindeer has become a test project for bandsaw guide makers for years. Often these little reindeer are cut out at high speed to awe audiences at woodworking shows around the country. A Google search will present you with hundreds of images and styles of bandsawn reindeer. But I have yet to see one of these done entirely by hand. There’s not much trick to it, just use a turning saw or another kind of frame saw (fret, coping, etc) to cut out the profiles along two planes. Throw in a bird’s mouth fixture and you could start batching these out to make your own little herd of fretsawn reindeer right? Hmm, maybe not. In the hand tool world, this project is what we call “a great skill building project”. That’s code for “this would have been much easier with a power tool”. While I joke, I do have to confess that I learned a lot about my various frame saws and how the different blades responded with these tight curves in thick stock. So honestly, it was a learning experience and now that I’ve done 4 of them I cut the time to make them from about 35 minutes down to 20 minutes. Thats a heck of a lot longer than the 20 second bandsaw version you see on YouTube, but I’m going to stick with my assumption that I learned a lot by doing it this way.

So to get started you need to print out a pattern. Take your pick of any of these images and size it how you like. The pattern I used was 7″ long which I did by messing with the scale on my printer. My starting blank was 1 1/2″ thick, 3″ wide, and a bit over 7″ long. I’m using Mahogany in this video but the species doesn’t matter at all. Whatever you have floating around.

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