Introduction: Downed Tree to Awesome Wedding Arch!
For our wedding last summer, I wanted to build some sort of unique arch to stand under for the Ceremony. I am really more of a modern cabinet maker and furniture builder type woodworker, who enjoys clean lines and square edges but I decided to do something a little different and outside my comfort zone for this project. Our venue was out in the woods, and I wanted to build something that would match the setting....
Step 1: Cut the Downed Madrone Tree Into Manageable Pieces and Sort Waste
I was visiting my parents down in Southern Oregon where they live on a 10 acre plot in the woods for a couple weeks before the wedding, so I figured that would be a good place to build the arch. When I arrived, my parents informed me about a large downed Madrone tree they needed some help cleaning up.
Normally we would just cut the trunk and large branches down into rounds that could be chopped up for firewood, and burn the rest of the smaller branches in a bon fire, but I decided to turn these smaller branches into our archway.
First we cut all the the smaller branches off, and loaded them into my dads trailer which is pulled behind his side-by-side rig. It took several trips to get all these branches to the pit they use for bon fires. Once we were done we were left with just useable fire wood in one location, and a large pile of "garbage" wood to be burned. This is the pile I would sort through for my arch materials...
I basically just broke all the small twigs off of any branches that I thought were appropriate for my arch so that I was left with relatively straight or slightly bowed branches that didnt have too many forks and deviations. I chose nice branches of all sizes, but tried to keep in mind how much of each size I would need. The rest of the bulk material went in the fire pit.
Step 2: Start Building!
I knew that I needed to transport this thing in the back of a small pickup hundreds of miles North to Portland where our wedding would be, so I decided to build it in three sections that could be assembled on site.
I basically started with the two outer sections, using the largest stock on the bottom and working into the smaller stock near the top. The hardest part was the very beginning of each side, where I had to create tripods of sorts that would eventually support the weight of the entire arch. I used my favorite makeshift clamps (old bike inner tubes cut into straps) to hold the pieces together temporarily while I used a combination of framing nailer, pin nailer, and large stapler to fasten all the pieces together. From there I basically just went to town with the nailers and started to make the basic form of the structure, but ensured that I didnt actually nail the third section at the top to the other two upright sections.
After I had the basic shape/form figured out, I just went in and filled gaps with smaller branch stock until it looked right.
Step 3: Disassemble and Move to Location
The arch was easy to disassemble, because I was very careful not to accidentally nail any of the overlapping stock together. It did take relatively careful consideration to make all of the 3 sections about the same size and shape for nesting purposes...
The fit in my buddies truck relatively easily, and survived the trip to Portland.
Step 4: Assemble on Site, and Get Married!
The arch went together beautifully on site, and we went a little further and decorated it with some Christmas lights as well. It was a great backdrop for our actual ceremony, and also worked great as a spot for our DJ (http://www.whatsnextpdx.com/) to set up for the reception and after party.
The owner of the venue liked the arch so much that he kept it when we were done! We were glad to not have to deal with it, since we were moving out of Portland and into our van within the next two weeks! More on that @ www.makingitthere.com
Also check out my business @ www.p-artcraft.com