Deer Yule Love!

Winter 2012

I needed space for some garden equipment in the storage shed so I took the Yule Deer out placed them in the garden now, while the ground is still soft enough to help support them. I was amazed when I plugged in the solar pack that there was still enough power left in it from last year for the lights to start twinkling in the big buck’s antlers! I bought this string of solar lights at the drug store, of all places, for under $20 and so far they have functioned perfectly – with no need for extension cords or electricity. Now, all I need is some snow to complete the scene!

These deer are fairly simple to construct, but you do need some tools: saw, loppers or pruners, a drill with spade bits (probably ¾” and 1” size) and a couple of regular bits, a mallet, wood rasp, eye protection and work gloves.

A large vise is also nice to have. Otherwise, you need a second person with a very strong grip to keep the logs from spinning when you drill them with the spade bits. These bits take a big bite out of the wood so you need to be very careful using them or the logs may kick back or spin and you can be seriously injured. If you haven’t used spade bits before, ask someone who has some experience. I accept no responsibility for any injuries received while constructing these deer. Please be careful.

The materials are usually free an abundant: You will need a log about 6” diameter and 18” long for the body and another 6 x 6” long for the head. The legs should be about 1” thick and up to 24” long. Bumps and bends make them more interesting. You will also need a short 1×8” stick for the neck and some interesting branches for antlers (curly willow, Harry Lauder Walking Stick, Fan Tail Pussy Willows, hemlock, etc).

Begin by drilling four holes in the bottom of the body for the legs. They need to be at an angle that will enable the legs to support the body and should all be the same depth. If you look at the end of the log as an imaginary clock, try to drill the leg holes a 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock, about 2-3” in from each end of the log, 3-4” apart. To avoid injury, make sure the log is held securely in a vise or wedged between two pieces of wood, nailed to the work surface.

Cut all four legs to the same length. Remember that some length will be used to secure them to the body and also to push them into the ground/snow for extra stability. Excess length can always be trimmed off later so make sure you allow plenty of length to begin with.

Use a wood rasp to taper the end of the legs just enough to snuggly fit the holes in the body. Use the mallet to tap them all the way in. If they do not fit snug, you can always tap in some wedges or stick shims to tighten the fit. Make sure the deer can stand well on a level floor and adjust the length of the legs accordingly if needed.

Use one of the spade bits to drill a single hole on the front end of the body about 1/” from the top edge for the neck. Make sure you hold the drill at a steep angle to the body so that the head mounts above the body, rather than forward, which would make the deer “front heavy” and unstable.

It is important to drill the hole for the neck at a sharp angle to the body so that the neck holds the head up fairly straight.

Use the same spade bit to drill a hole in the bottom of the head to attach it to the neck. Use a regular drill bit to drill a pair of holes for the antlers on the top of the head. Use the mallet to tap the neck into the body and the head onto the neck. Use some shims or wedges if necessary to tighten the fit. Add antlers and, if desired, solar twinkle lights!

Waiting for winter to arrive.

About Susan Guagliumi

I am an author, craftsperson and a gardener. My proposal for a book tentatively titled "The Artful Gardener" was just accepted by Stewart, Tibori and Chang Publishers. Although this will be my fifth book, it is the first outside the area of hand/machine knitting. The manuscript is due early in 2013 and the book is scheduled for Spring of 2014. A somewhat longer process than giving birth to a child, embarking on an author's journey can be just as daunting, exciting and almost as fulfilling.
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