The Red Christmas Truck Build

I was searching for a fun Christmas project to make this year with my CarveWright when a coworker suggested, “oh, make one of those red christmas trucks”.  I looked up what she was talking about and quickly saw an overwhelming amount of these old red pickup truck decorations. This is definitely a popular theme, and with good reason.  It looks great!  An old 1950’s pickup truck hauling Christmas trees with all the retro nostalgia of a Norman Rockwell painting. I had actually carved a 1950 Ford pickup truck many years ago from an STL model, so I decided to revisit it.

1950 Ford truck wood
The original carved truck disappeared years ago. This is the only photo of it.

After an extensive search of several computers, I finally found the STL file I had used before, and it was terrible. I then remembered how difficult it had been to work with. Some 3D models that have been built for video games are extremely faceted and often constructed poorly. I had been able to make it work for the small truck, but only with a lot of filling and extra work. I decided to model my own version so this project could be easily repeated for others to build.

3d modeling
Using the Pattern Modeling Suite to make my parts

Once the models were designed, I laid the pieces out to carve on two 1″x6″x30″ boards.

Project file layouts
Project file layouts

The project requires the 1/16″ carving bit, and a cutting bit.  I set the project up to use the 3/16″ cutting bit, as it’s my preference, but it could be changed to the 1/8″ cutting bit as long as you aren’t cutting hardwoods.  The 2 boards should be at least 30″ long.  I purchased a 6ft 1″x6″ of select pine from Home Depot and just cut in half. Select pine is wonderful stuff to work with on these types of projects. It sands so easy and can take almost any finish you want, plus it’s usually easier to find straight pieces than some other types of wood.

Now, with boards prepared and projects uploaded, run the projects on the CarveWright.

Projects carving on CarveWright CNC
Truck project carving on CarveWright CNC

The Old Truck center pieces project will ask for the cutting bit to cut the straight edges along the sides, but when the project finishes you will need to cut the ends off with a saw. Line up the saw to cut right at the bottom edge of the front grill piece to give it a clean separation.

cut pieces out

Then measure 10″ from the inside edge of the truck bed and cut on the outside of the line.

cut out truck bed
Cut at 10″ to form the base of the truck

Finish separating all the pieces from the tabs using a sharp chisel so you can begin sanding.

cutting tabs with sharp chisel
A sharp chisel makes cutting tabs so much easier

Next, sand each piece with a sanding mop to remove the fuzzy parts, and any further cleanup by hand.

sanding mop cleanup
240 sanding mop makes sanding quick work

After the pieces have been sanded, you can begin gluing it together, or, if you choose, apply your stain or paint before assembly.  I used a red dye stain and applied it before assembly to make sure I got the inside of the truck colored. This was somewhat problematic however, being that the dye was water based, it raised the grain and caused some warping.  Nothing that some glue and clamping couldn’t solve, but you may want to avoid this and apply your stain after assembly.

stained truck parts
All pieces stained and ready for assembly
painted wheels
Wheels painted. I wasn’t feeling ambitious enough to attempt the white walls free hand but you should!

The truck bed serves as the anchor point for the assembly.  The truck bed should line up flush with the back of the side pieces.  Then, start by adding the back of the cab and bench seat, glue and clamp.

Next, glue and clamp the front grill and hood in place.  Don’t forget to tack the little steering wheel on with a spot of glue.

truck gluing front
Truck glued
Truck glued and clamped

Next is the bumpers.  They simply get attached to bottom face on the front and back. While the glue was drying, I used the same silver paint I use on the bumpers and hubcaps to paint in some details like the headlights and door handles.

gluing bumpers

Then the wheels just need to be glued on and the truck is assembled.

wheels glued
Truck resting on blocks while wheel glue dries.

Finished and ready for decorating!  I found a nice size pinecone outside and spray painted it a dark green. Then, I wrapped it with this tiny LED light string I found in the Christmas section of Walgreens.  I routed it under the truck so the battery pack could fit in the cavity under the hood.

battery pack pocket
The light’s battery pack fits perfectly inside the bottom cavity
Red Christmas Truck

The completed “Red Christmas Truck”.

Red Christmas Truck
Red Christmas Truck
Red Christmas Truck
Red Christmas Truck interior
Red Christmas Truck
Red Christmas Truck
Red Christmas Truck
Red Christmas Truck

You too can make this simple and fun project!  It’s available in the CarveWright Pattern Depot.  Download and make your truck this weekend!

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