Introduction: Christmas Tree Base Box

About: I have always been curious in learning new things and wanting to be self reliant. I guess that works well with my professional Industrial Maintenance background of over 30 years. Recently I've been focused on …

It's Christmas and it's time for a shop project!

Step 1: The Need... a Decorative Box to Cover the Christmas Tree Stand

My wife is a Christmas decorating fanatic. The whole house is beautifully decorated during the holidays. Every year she adds to her collection and usually has something for me to build. This year she showed me photos of different style boxes that are made to cover the base of a Christmas tree. I had to admit that the metal base on our tree left a lot to be desired. She likes everything from primitive style to bright and shiny, so I was off to the shop to build one for her.

Step 2: Materials.... What to Build With...

I looked through my wood stack in the shop and didn't find enough of any one material to do the job. Then, I had an idea... "What about the old fence wood that I was taking down in the back yard? I liked the rustic distress of the wood and thought it would look good once cleaned up a little. In my head I calculated that I would need at about eight boards, and sorted through my stack. Back to the shop with my wood...

Step 3: Tools I Used... Your Choices May Vary...

I used several tools to build this box, but other tools can be used to get similar results. I used...

  • Tape measure
  • Table saw - but a hand saw or circular saw would work
  • Claw Hammer (to remove old nails)
  • Air Compressor
  • Air nail gun
  • Safety Goggles - Safety First! Protect your Eyes!


  • Used fence wood
  • Various size nails
  • Glue
  • 180 grit sandpaper
  • Satin Black Spray Paint
  • Silver Spray Paint
  • Tan Spray Paint
  • Shop rags or old cloth

Step 4: How Big? ... Lets See...

I started by measuring the metal base on this artificial twelve foot Christmas tree. At the widest points it was 30" square. Since the tree was already standing, I decide to just make a three sided box so It could just be slid into place. Since our tree is placed in a corner, it will never be seen. I needed to make it a little larger to allow movement, so I decided to add an inch to the inside dimensions of the box. I also found that using two of my fence boards horizontally, it would be a good height compared to the bottom branches of our tree.

Step 5: Getting the Used Wood Prepared...

Since the wood was reclaimed fence boards, I needed to remove old nails before cutting the wood. At this time I also accessed how bad some of the wood was and what damage I wanted to cut around. I didn't mind having some old nail holes exposed, but didn't want large dry rot areas showing.

Step 6: Lets Start Cutting... and Begin Assembly.

So I had my dimensions of the inside of the box figured out. I then had to think about the thickness of my boards and how I wanted to overlap my corners and nail them. Since your base will probably be a different size, I won't specify what lengths I cut each of my boards. Just make yours to match your needs. At this point, I just wanted to make a basic three sided box. I used a little glue on my joints before using the nail gun to attach them. In this case, I used 2" nails on the corners.

Step 7: Now It's Time to Give It a Little Style...

Next, lets give it a little style... We can also give it some additional strength since there isn't much structure holding it together at this point. First, lets reinforce the corners and give it some dimension. I wanted to give the illusion that the corners were made from square posts, but only had old fence boards that were one inch thick to create the illusion. So I put two pieces on each corner while trying to use the old weathered edges as a finished face. I wasn't always able to do this because I needed to cut an edge. There were a few ways to achieve this look though. One method I used was to cut a thin strip from the edge of a board and attache it to a cut edge. I also put a couple of 3/4" long nails to to quickly hold it in place. The other is to blend it in with a little paint. I'll follow that up at the end of this Instructable.

Now that the front corners look good, lets create that illusion on the back faux corner. A single piece of wood will create the match to the front corner. On all of these corners, I used a little wood glue and some 1-1/4" nails to attach the boards.

Lets give it a top rail cover to finish the "Look"! For this, I wanted to keep it simple using square cuts and nothing fancy like mitered corners. I made the top strips wider than the total thickness of the boards including the faux corner posts. Here , they were three inches wide. I like to create shadow lines with overhang from that top cover. Shadows help give dimension and depth. The top rail is also attached with a little glue and some 2" nails.

Step 8: Clean Up and Evening Out the Finish...

Now it's time to get this cleaned and finished. I took a dampened cloth and wiped down all of my wood. I just want to knock off any loose dirt that still may be on this old wood. I then used a piece of 180 grit sand paper to knock off any high spots, square corners, or other unsightly areas. Now to conceal any freshly cut areas of the boards and blend them in.

I found that satin black, tan, and silver spray paint worked well for my old wood. Remember, you aren't trying to give it a solid paint job, just conceal fresh cuts. I start by using the black and just giving a quick, light dusting on the fresh cut areas. I'll also lightly dust all of the boards. Then I give a super light dusting of silver. Now a light dusting of tan. I will then grab the black and give another quick dusting of the wood. At this point, the paint is already dry, but you want to help blend it together. I used a shop rag to rub down all of the paint which removes a little bit of the paint, but helps blend everything together. Be careful when you're wiping this old rough wood... splinters are painful! When it comes to this style of blending with paint, less is more. You can always add more paint, but it's hard to remove it without making it look unnatural.

I then sat the box outside for a couple of hours to allow the paint to gas off and avoid bringing that smell into the house. Believe me, everyone in the house will appreciate it!

Step 9: Installing and Enjoying!...

Now just slide the three sided cover under the tree and be proud of your new designer tree base!

I hope this Instructable will give you inspiration to build your own design. While I made this in a rustic style, something similar could be made from smooth wood and a nice coat of stain or paint. Make it your own and know that you have a one of a kind item that fits well and is unique!

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