Introduction: Driftwood Christmas Tree

I've been wanting to make some wreaths with driftwood I've collected on the beach.
Now that the holidays are here, I decided to go with a Christmas tree.

Mine is just over 2 feet tall. I'd love to collect some really big pieces and scale it up to full size.

Step 1: Gather What You'll Need

What you'll need to construct the tree:
About 30 pieces of driftwood
1 dowel, 5/16" diameter or larger.
1 wood base (mine in 4 1/2" diameter, purchased at Michael's for $1.29)
Glue (I used Weldbond, but any wood glue or good white glue should do.)
Drill or dremel tool with a bit the same size as your dowel
Block to drill into
Starfish for the top

Step 2: Source Your Driftwood

Go down to the beach and collect a bunch of driftwood. I'm lucky enough to live a few miles from the Pacific ocean. I recommend wearing gloves. Most driftwood arrives on our beaches after storms, and other nasty things could be there, too.

Just collect a bunch, anything that has that driftwood-y look to it. You should get a variety, from gnarled tree branches to distressed  lumber scraps. For my tree I used 31 pieces. They vary in size from 3 1/2" to 21" in length. They will need to be thick enough to have a hole drilled in them that will fit the dowel. (I first tried a 1/4' dowel, but it was too flimsy. Go 5/16" or larger)

Bring them home and give them a good cleaning in a bleach/water solution. Then leave them outside to dry.

(FYI - this picture was selected for a Jones Soda label. Diet black cherry. Let me know if you find any in a store.)

Step 3: Arrange and Drill Your Pieces

Drill a hole in the base and glue the dowel into it vertically. Be careful to let it dry straight, or your tree will not stand upright.
I stood mine on the kitchen counter, so that the dowel ran up the outside of a cabinet. I checked it with a level, then taped it in place to dry.

Sort the driftwood pieces and lay them out from largest to smallest, editing to get a pleasing pyramid shape.

Using the ruler, or by balancing each piece on your finger, find the center of each piece and drill a hole all the way through.
It helps to have a scrap of your dowel at hand, so that you can check the fit as you go.

Also, some hand and eye protection would be a great idea.  

You will also need to drill a hole into the starfish if you are putting one on top. Take care not to break it - some are tougher than others - and drill at an angle that will allow it to stand upright, or very slightly back.

Step 4: Stack the Pieces

Once the glue has dried completely on the base, thread the pieces onto the dowel, starting with the largest.

For a very 3-dimensional tree, stack each piece at a 30 to 60 degree rotation from the one below. I liked the look better when any curved pieces were curving up, not down. 

Gluing the pieces on is optional. I preferred to leave mine unglued. This way I can adjust it to my liking, and for storage, I can push them into a more 2-dimensional arrangement, to take up less space. I suppose I could even take it apart and store it that way.

Check to see how much dowel the starfish needs to stay on securely. Trim the dowel and place the starfish on top.

Step 5: Finito

Your driftwood tree is complete. It can be placed indoors or out. Enjoy!

Notes: I probably should have put a sealer or stain or something on the base and dowel before I started. (I still can, because nothing is glued together.) The base stands out too much with the grayer driftwood.

I may just spread glue all over the base and cover it with sand. Or give it a thin wash of gray and white paint to dull it down.
It would be cool to have it on a table and spread sand all around the base, covering it, then toss a few shells on the sand.

I prefer my driftwood tree 'au naturel,' but it could also be decorated with simple seashell ornaments, or dusted with a light sprinkling of fake snow. 

Thanks for looking at my instructable.

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