Step 1: Gather Materials/Tools
5/16" or similar dowel
1x4" or other scrap material
Table saw with miter gauge
5/32" drill bit (or bit slightly larger than lollipop sticks)
5/16" drill bit to match center dowel
Step 2: Rip Scrap Into Square Material
Step 3: Setup to Drill Center Holes
Step 4: Drill Center Holes
Step 5: Trim Center Dowel and Thread on Drilled Pieces
When threading the pieces on, try to build something that looks like the tree your are expecting to end up with. Shorter pieces should be a the top. And do not forget the double-wide piece at the bottom.
Step 6: Setup Table Saw Gauge and Cut Angles
After doing this three times in rapid succession, I have some tips. As you can see, I miscalculated on the last one and ended up with a shorter tree. It worked out well because the other two would not fit in a standard USPS flat rate box...
Tip #1: Make sure your dowel is trimmed to protrude <1/2" This one was longer than pictured and snagged the blade on the first pass
Tip #2: After you have made your first cut, make sure your saw has stopped. Then rotate the top two rows to the other side. This will help you set the position for the second cut. It is also the reason to make sure your holes are as close to centerline as possible.
Tip #3: Stepper angles will make the tree look more full.
Tip #4: Make the top row at least 2" long.
Step 7: Drill Lollipop Holes
Don't forget to drill the double-wide one just to ~3/8"
Step 8: Cut Double Board for Cross Piece
Set your table saw to just over the width of your boards, then nibble away at the double board using the miter gauge. After you have some cut away, you can use a router, bandsaw or more time to cut the rest of the board.
Cut your squared off piece to fit and make sure there is enough room for it to pivot flat both directions.
Step 9: Assemble the Tree
Trim off and sand your dowel so it is just a little proud of the top board, and you are done. Of the three of these, I did not get to keep any. The original plan was to give one to someone on Instructables, but I ended up giving one to my neighbor, one to my sister and one to my mother-in-law.
It really is a great way to get rid of scrap material. You can paint it or stain it, or sand it, but the bare tree is what I grew up with and what I am used to. Plus it collapses flat for easy storage!