Every year, Americans go wild for Christmas. It starts right after Halloween, as the radio stations switch to carols and classics, and then turns into a shopping frenzy the day after Thanksgiving. According to the U.S. census, it also includes cutting down about 17 million live trees for living room displays. These trees often end up in the landfill, or, at best, mulched. From a sustainability perspective, this process is largely carbon-neutral, as the trees emit no more carbon dioxide as they rot than they absorbed while growing. But that fails to account for all the petrochemicals used to plant, fertilize, prune, cut, deliver, and dispose of said trees. Artificial trees aren't much better; they are often made of PVC, stabilized with lead, and are neither biodegradable nor recyclable.

This year, make a more sustainable choice: a flat-pack, lightweight, wood tree made from scrap plywood. It can be made in any size, takes up no space to store, is cheap, reusable, non-toxic, with a sleek, modern aesthetic. 

This whole project, from sketch to set-up in the living room, took me about three hours and cost me nothing (assuming you can scavenge some plywood). It requires no fasteners or specialized equipment. I made mine from OSB since it was what was lying around the shop, and the random flakes make for a nice bark-ish texture, but any sort of plywood will do. 

Merry flat-pack Christmas! And, if you're in a giving kind of mood, throw a vote my way in the Instructables Design Contest . . . !

You will need these materials:

2 pieces of 3/4" plywood, OSB, or other sheet goods, approx. 16" x 24"
Christmas lights
Tung oil or finish of your choice

You will need these tools:

Circular saw
Jig saw or handsaw for inside corners
Drill with 1/4" and 3/4" bits
Router (optional)
Tape measure
Safety glasses, gloves, etc.

Step 1: Layin' Out

The tree I made is 24" tall (to the base of the star) and 16" wide at the base. You could make it up to about 48", I think before it would become too wobbly. Try and stick to a base width that is about 2/3 of the height, which gives a graceful proportion to the triangle.

Start by using a circular saw to rip the plywood down to 16" wide. Strike a line at 24" up from one end, marking a centerline. Measure 2" off each side of the centerline. Connect the corners of the base with those two marks. Carry the lines through until they intersect, which will form the point of the star.

Lay out a trunk and a base; I made the base about 2-1/2" wide, and the tree trunk about 5" wide. Mark out a star, angel, or other design at the top of the triangle.

Measure and strike a vertical centerline, then measure 3/8" to each side of it and strike two more lines. This will be the notch in each piece that allows them to interlock. 
I just built a variation of your design for my house here in the Philippines. <br> <br>2 dimensional and painted Green. <br>Mike
<p>that photo is way too little :(</p>
<p>Click on the three pics in my comment from 2014. The tree is basically just a 4' tall triangle with a star on top. Then notch out the &quot;branches&quot;. Notch in the base so it isn't too tippy (note mine is always against a wall).</p><p>Notch in some slots so the darn light string doesn't slide off.</p><p>Paint it green (except for the base which I left as bare wood) and then color in the star.</p>
<p>My son riding his Ikea Moose in front of the tree Christmas eve, a close up of the completed masterpeice and the tree before I strung lights.</p><p>Note that I didn't make it &quot;3D&quot; like the original 'ible because I have a one year old stumbling around. Did paint it though!</p>
<p>O&gt;MG,<br>Your child is so cute! Is the rocking horse a flat pack assembly project? I just went trough an amazing rocking cat instructable, which was more than inspiring. </p>
<p>The Moose is from Ikea and it's stupidly inexpensive.</p><p>Search Ikea.com for &quot;ekorre&quot;</p>
<p>A flat pack assembly of a X-mas tree wasn't something I really did not expect! :D<br>The 3 step guide is really fresh. I would totally add a project like that to my winter holidays home furnishing list. cheers!</p>
This is amazing
Cool design.
Very nice way to have some decorations that don't take up a lot of space when Christmas is over. Great for those of us with limited space for storage. <br>Thanks, and I voted.
Very cool! it could also be done with heavy cardboard. I think I'm going to try that <br> Thanks!
It would be a tough sell convincing the wife, but I like it a lot.
A good idea. I like it. http://plastfactor.ru
I love this idea!

About This Instructable


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Bio: Furniture hacker. Author of Guerilla Furniture Design, out now. Find me on Twitter and Instagram @objectguerilla.
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