Building Santa’s Sleigh with a Wood-Mizer Portable Sawmill

By Chase Warner, Wood-Mizer

Santa's Sleigh

Gregg Turk used to operate his Wood-Mizer portable sawmill to saw material for his fine furniture making and woodcarving business. After being struck with health problems, Gregg was forced to scale back his business and semi-retire. He then decided to try out a new vocation of being Santa Claus, but there was just one problem with the gig. When children saw Gregg’s Santa persona, they would ask, “Santa, where is your sleigh?” Gregg decided it was time to build Santa a proper sleigh.




With a little bit of Santa’s magic, the wood from a single poplar tree was transformed into Santa’s sleigh. Gregg did all of the woodworking himself and only contracted out the front bells, upholstery, and wiring system, all of which he still had a hand in designing. 


Sleigh UnfinishedSleigh Unfinished


Although the style of the sleigh may look old-fashioned, the dash is outfitted with the latest advances in technology to make Santa’s job a little easier. He has a GPS system, a computer to view the “Great Kids List” and images of space, a switch to activate the locking clamps to help hold the sleigh down when up on the rooftops, and even a liftoff sequence simulation with roaring speakers and fog! 


Sleigh FrameSleigh Frame
Sleigh RearSleigh Rear


Not long after Gregg began building, he was contacted by two local cities about being Santa for their Christmas events. Suddenly, the pressure was on. Although December was only a few months away, Gregg was determined to finish the sleigh in time. He worked on building the sleigh eight to ten hours a day and spent his evenings designing the parts he would build next. By milling 100% of the yellow and tulip poplar needed for the sleigh on his Wood-Mizer LT40 Hydraulic portable sawmill, Gregg estimates he saved more than $4,000 on the sleigh that measured 4.3m long, 1.7m wide, and 2m high.  


Sleigh DetailSleigh Detail


Needless to say, Gregg was exhausted at the end of this project, but the final result was worth it. Once the sleigh was completed, Gregg and his wife both sat on the floor of the workshop speechless at the masterpiece in front of them. 


Sleigh SideSleigh Side
Sleigh backSleigh back


Gregg considers his sleigh the culmination of more than 35 years of woodworking and the best project he has ever undertaken. His Wood-Mizer sawmill allowed him to work with high grade material that he never could have purchased at a lumberyard and gave him flexibility in the sizing of his material. As Gregg says, “The combination of being a woodworker, a Santa Claus, and owning a Wood-Mizer sawmill allows you to be able to build anything you can imagine!” 


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