1980s Handmade Wood Sled Makeover

Today I’m sharing a fun makeover with you.  I gave a 1980s handmade wood sled and update for 2020 and I love the end result.  This sled has been unused in my basement for 25+ years and now it’s back on display.Wood sled made in the 1980s refinished and decorated with snowflakes.

1980s Wood Sled Makeover

Small decorative wood items like this are easy to find in thrift shops and to makeover.  Mine didn’t come from a thrift shop, but perhaps seeing how I made over this wood sled will inspire you to makeover a decorative wood item that you find or already own.

The Story Behind the Sled

Back in the 1980s, my grandfather was retired and spent his time gardening and doing projects including woodworking and furniture repair and refinishing.  My grandmother was an avid decorator and crafter and would often see something at a craft show that she wanted for her home.  Rather than buy it, she would describe what she saw to my grandfather and he would make it.  

One thing that he made in the 1980s was small decorative sleds.  When he made a craft for my grandmother, he made multiples and gave them to my mom and my aunt and likely to friends.  I don’t remember my mother giving her sled to me, but she must have, but I do clearly remember giving it an update with a stencil, probably in the early 1990s.Handmade wood sled from the 1980's with a stencil

Yes, I thought that I was giving this cute sled a makeover with this stencil.

If you are of my vintage, you know that in the late 80s or early 90s, we stenciled anything that we could get our hands on.  Does anyone remember stenciling a border around their ceiling?  Maybe the stencil involved a goose?  Ha-ha!

Giving the Sled a Makeover

When my husband was off over Christmas, I asked him if he would sand this sled for me.  I was busy taking down Christmas and he was already in the workshop working on another project, so he kindly did the dirty work for me.

I removed the twine from the sled and he got to work.

The sled was sanded with a rotary sander using 220 grit sandpaper and sanded until the old stain was completely removed.Handmade small wood sled sanded to raw wood

I then took over the makeover and used a rag to apply one coat of Minwax Special Walnut stain.Small wood sled stained with Minwax Special Walnut

After the stain was dry, I rubbed the sled with fine steel wool which resulted in a silky smooth finish and tied the twine back to the sled.Handmade Wood Sled stained with Minwax Special Walnut

The sled looked perfectly cute with just stain, but to add a little winter interest to it, I added two snowflakes to it using mounting squares.Wood sled made in the 1980s refinished and decorated with snowflakes.

Displaying the Sled for Winter

The sled is now hanging in our sunroom for winter decor and I love how it looks.Wood sled made in the 1980s refinished and decorated with snowflakes.

I know that my grandfather would be very pleased that I’m once again using and enjoying one of his woodworking projects.Wood sled made in the 1980s refinished and decorated with snowflakes.

1980s Handmade Wood Sled Makeover

1980s Handmade Wood Sled Makeover

A wood sled from the 1980s gets a makeover for 2020.

Active Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day
Difficulty Easy


  • Wood Sled
  • Rotary Sander and Sandpaper
  • Fine Steel Wool
  • Wood Stain
  • Snowflake Ornaments


  1. Handmade small wood sled sanded to raw woodSand wood sled to bare wood with a rotary sander using 220 grit sandpaper.
  2. Apply wood stain and let the stain dry thoroughly. Rub the sled with fine steel wool to get a silky smooth finish. Small wood sled stained with Minwax Special Walnut
  3. Use mounting squares to add snowflake ornaments.Wood sled made in the 1980s refinished and decorated with snowflakes.
  4. Hang and enjoy.Wood sled made in the 1980s refinished and decorated with snowflakes.

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In my newsletter that went out to my blog subscribers, I gave an update on my cancer.  Since many of the comments below mention my CT/MRI test, I thought that I would give an update here in case anyone who doesn’t subscribe to my newsletter was confused.

I had scans/MRI on January 9 and the results showed that my cancer is stable.  This is wonderful news as my medication could stop working at any point.  Scan days are very stressful as I am terrified that I will get bad news.  Yesterday’s news was good and now I can relax until my next tests in April.


  1. First of all, Paula, I am so very happy for you and the results of your scan. I know the feeling as I have 2 brothers that go for their cancer scans and of course, we are all stressed until they are over. So good news is GREAT news!! Continued good health to you in the New Year!! BTW, I loved the sled makeover! I love being able to use something a family member took the time to make!! God Bless!!

  2. Terrific memories of your family.
    Yes, I remember everything getting either a goose or 3 dot stencil. One day, we’ll get a chuckle over all the chicken feeders and toolboxes in current decor

  3. Oh yes, the infamous geese. You see them constantly on thrift store shelves. What a lovely keepsake from your grandfather and you did such a nice job updating it. So happy for you and the results of your scan, a wonderful gift to start the new year.

  4. My thought are with you during your treatment. I am also going through the same procedures and treatment for MBC stage 4. Mom’ stereo sitting against the LR/DR wall. It reminds me she is still praying for health. This a life time process, and yes, the chemo pills I, hope will keep the cancer at bay. Next week is scheduled for an MRI and CT follow-ups. Yes it is stressful wondering abut the results. Your hobbies and post are a wonder sight to see. They’re so creative and good for the soul.
    Sue from Florida, ( raised in VA)

  5. So glad to hear your scans were good. It can be a very anxious and terrifying time. Just put your trust in God and look to him for comfort.

    I love the sled makeover. So cute and perfect for winter.

  6. Excellent news on the scans. We live with those every 3 months so we know exactly the stress and anxiety ..it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to breath that sy of relief. God Bless and continued prayers

  7. Yes, everything seemed to have geese w blue or something done in avocado green! My first house had avocado appliances, sink, counter tiles, alternating floor tiles, ALL IN AVOCADO! The carpets were Kelly green. YUK! Of course the cabinets were oak, just about the color of that sled. Just awful. Love your redo of a family treasure.

  8. Good news on the scan. Happy Dancing!
    I like the snowflakes on the sled. It definitely is more modern in style, but obviously snowflakes make more sense than a flower.
    And yes, I stenciled around the ceiling of my girls’ bedrooms. The kitchen had wallpaper, so no stenciling there. However, I did have lots of geese do-dahs to decorate with. HA HA

  9. Of course everything in my place was country style blue and mauve in 1990! Geese, country hearts, teddy bears. Remember after blue and mauve country went out of style everyone had green and mauve country. Glad to hear your cancer is at bay!

    1. I forgot about the 80s/90s hearts and teddy bear decor. My friend had her home decorated completely with hearts. I think I have two heart decorative towels from that time period that I used to hang on my washstand. Maybe I’ll look for them to use for this year’s Valentine’s Day decor.


  10. Love this post so much Paula because I can TOTALLY relate to my Mom stenciling geese on stained hat boxes and stacking them on the hearth of my childhood home. She was all about the country blue and mauve during that time 🙂 I can’t get over this sled makeover! It seriously doesn’t even look like the same sled. I’m going to be on the hunt for one now too. I love this one! Hugs, CoCo

    1. I can picture your mom’s stained hat boxes with geese as clear as day. Country blue and mauve were the thing!


  11. Such a great makeover, Paula! I love the stain you chose as well. It gave it a more updated vintage look, if that’s a thing. Ha! Yes, I seem to remember a stenciling phase. I also remember a puff paint phase. I think the stencil idea was at least better than that! Pinning!

    1. Thank you, Crissy! My grandmother would see things at craft shows and then get my granddad to make them. This was before cell phones so she must have had a good memory to explain what she wanted him to build.

      Puff paint! I remember using that on sweatshirts.


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