Introduction: Christmas Tree Shelves

About: Analog maker dabbling in digital manufacture

This set of Christmas tree-shaped shelves came about because we have a puppy to whom pine needles are some sort of canine equivalent of catnip and whose behavior around wrapped things inevitably results in rapid shredding thereof. We thought about various solutions for a while, and present tree [sic] came up with this design. It was made using scrap plywood, knocks down for storage, and has close to 6' of linear shelf storage for presents. It can be decorated conventionally, but doesn't need watering...

Step 1: Materials and Tools

You need plywood (5/8" and 3/8") and saws for this project. I used a circular saw with a home-made guide and a miter saw. It was assembled with a nailgun and wood glue and half a dozen screws. Paint for finishing. I had no budget to make these shelves but I did have a lot of left over bits of plywood from other projects and some green paint, so it was a freebie.

Step 2: Design

There were a few constraints for the design. The longest piece of plywood I had was 1640 mm long. The tree had to knock down easily so we could store it. I sketched out a rough plan on paper and refined it using Sketchup. The shelves are 300 mm apart, with the two sides offset by 100 mm. The other piece of plywood I had was 400 mm wide, so that's how deep the tree ended up. The Sketchup file below was close to the final version I ended up cutting out (note: it's been uploaded as a .zip file, because the file uploader doesn't seem to allow .skp extensions any more). The main difference is that the shelves ended up sitting on top of the branches, rather than being fitted inside them.

Step 3: Cut

This was a complicated exercise in careful layout. I measured and cut each piece one at a time, making an effort to minimize waste. The long cuts were made using a circular saw + guide, and the shorter ones with the miter saw.

Step 4: Assemble

If you have a nailgun, the shelves can be assembled very quickly and precisely. Sand once you're done.

Step 5: Add Slots for Shelves

These were made out of a piece of 15 mm ply ripped to 20 mm wide. Two pieces glued and nailed in place formed each slot.

Step 6: Paint and Put It All Together

We painted the trunk and branches with undercoat then 3 coats of some leftover forest green exterior acrylic paint using a small foam roller. Once dry, drill three holes through the middle of each side piece, countersink, and screw the trunk of the tree together as shown. Slot in the shelves - the slope holds them firmly in place without the need for fasteners.

Step 7: Decorate

To stop the tree from toppling, I screwed it to the wall, but you could easily attach a base if you wanted it to be free-standing. Screw small holes in suitable places in the tree, put in small nails, and hang your decorations. Place the presents on the shelves. Merry Christmas!

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