Refinishing an Antique Christmas Sled

Christmas decorating is in full swing at our little apartment. I was baking this weekend, making some new handmade ornaments and finishing up a project that I’ve been really excited about – refinishing an antique children’s sled.

When I started talking about looking for a new project to do for the holidays, my mom asked if I wanted to do something with the old sled in the backyard shed. I’ve been in that shed hundreds of times over the years and I’d never noticed the sled. How did I miss it?

I love the idea of incorporating older family heirlooms into Christmas decor, whether it’s small glass ornaments, ceramic trees or any old sled that just needed a little TLC.

I’m sharing this festive holiday project today as part of the Behr Holiday Hues blog hop, with my fellow Behr DIY Experts. All their projects are linked at the end of the post, so be sure to check them out….and there is a giveaway too! One lucky reader will get three gallons of Behr paint for their next project.

I dug my way through to the back of the shed and there hanging on the wall was this antique sled. My mom wasn’t quite sure who’s it was, but she knew it came from my great grandfather’s farm. I called my great aunt and she said she remembered the sled. It was her younger brother’s, who was born in 1938, meaning this sled was from some time in the 1940s.

I was able to make out some of the markings to find out that it is a Champion F-38 sled made by the Kalamazoo Sled Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which dates back to the 1870’s and at one time was one of the largest children’s sled manufacturers in the world.

Aside from some rusting and this one broken piece on the left plank, the sled was in good condition. Over time it had become bleached and there was no finish left protecting it, so I wanted to make sure that I put something on there to make sure I could use it without causing any more damage to it.

Refinishing an antique like this will take away from its value (I found this model in it’s condition going for about $120 online), but this is a family heirloom, which we intend to keep in the family for a very long time. Preserving it in it’s current state was more important than worrying about how it would change its value.

Behr-PremiumTransparent-Weatherproofing All-In-One-Wood-Finish
Behr has a number of wood stains in transparent, semi-transparent and solid finishes. There were so many colours to chose from, but I decided to go with the Behr Premium Transparent Weatherproofing All-In-One Wood Finish in “Natural”. The acrylic formula seals out the elements and the sun’s harmful UV rays. It would bring out the natural tones in the wood and be transparent enough for what was left of the original paint job to shine through. The stain also had a nice satin finish to it, which would help minimize any blemishes in the wood.

I lightly sanded the wood to remove any potential splinters and then wiped it down with a tack cloth. I used 3M Edge-Lock Painters Tape to tape off any of the metal that was close to the wood, just to make sure I didn’t get the stain on it. I got this sample of painters tape from 3M on the trip to California and I’d been meaning to try it out. I was really impressed with not only how good it was at preventing any stain from seeping underneath, but also how gentle it was on the paint of the metal surface

Using a paint brush, I applied two thin coats to all the exposed wood on the sled, about an hour apart. I then let it cure for three days, just to make sure that everything was dry.

Although this product is intended for decks, fences and outdoor furniture, I was really pleased with the results on a project like this.

 I love that you can still see some of the original paint through the finish. For the red metal rails, I plan to apply some clear satin spray paint to help preserve it and prevent any further rusting.

To decorate it a bit for the holidays, I added a wreath (IKEA), faux red berries, a big striped bow (ribbon from The Penny Paper Co) and some rustic jingle bells. I propped it up in our living room, but I think it would look lovely in an outdoor display or hung on a wall.

I’d love to set it up with a big stack of gifts, beside the tree on Christmas morning. I can’t wait to show it to my great aunt, who says it’s been years since she’s seen it.

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of these two cuties on it. They were both so curious to see what I was doing with the sled under the tree, that I thought I’d just scoop them up there as a joke, but two treats later I had a picture of them together. It’s a Christmas miracle, haha!


Now here is your chance to try some Behr products! The folks at Behr Paint are giving TWO lucky readers 3 gallons of Behr Marquee Paint!


Be sure to check out all the great projects by my lovely fellow Behr DIY Experts:


1.  All Things Heart and Home

2.  Clean and Scentsible

3.  The DIY Dreamer

4.  The Frugal Homemaker

5.  Frugal Mom Eh

6.  Just a Girl and Her Blog

7.  Liz Marie Blog

8.  Marty’s Musings

9.  NewlyWoodwards

10.  A Pop of Pretty

11. Small Home Big Start

Disclosure: I am a member of the Behr DIY Expert program and was provided Behr product for this project. All opinions and ideas are 100% my own.

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  1. says

    What a wonderful idea! Love how great the wood looks, now. I actually have a really similar sled for our Christmas decor and the outdoors have definitely done a number on it. Maybe have to try this. (This is a similar stain to what we used on our deck so I already have the product on hand.)

  2. says

    Amanda what a GREAT idea! I have a sled just like yours and I really need to do this.. yours is just beautiful with that pretty wreath and I’m in love with the pups! ox

  3. Chelle Chapman says

    Oh what I’d give for an heirloom like this one! I have a couple of adorable Elves that my Gram made & have been looking for a small sled, sleigh or tricycle for them to play on for the Holidays!! Thanks SO much for sharing this wonderful project & for the giveaway!!
    I LOVE all the colors in the Opulence line!!!

  4. Robert Aymond says

    I bought a vintage ChampIon Sled today at an Estate Sale and its in great original condition. I can tell it’s never been refinished or repainted in any way from its appearance and even has the original rope on it. From the solid Oak slats & wood to the cast iron frame & runners. It’s original 100%. Will look great on my wall!


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