Introduction: Easy Plywood Holiday Decorations

About: If its practical, I have no use for it!

Want to make some easy tree ornaments or holiday decorations from small plywood scraps? Read on!


Small scrap pieces of 1/2” or 3/4” plywood

Wood shims or hardwood to cut your own shims. Shims like these from building supply stores work well.

Wood glue and 5-minute epoxy

Bandsaw, scroll saw, or handsaw

Step 1: Cut and Glue the Plywood Pieces

Cut two pieces of 1/2-inch plywood to 1.5 inches wide by 2.25 inches long. Cut two more pieces to 1.5 inches wide by 3.5 inches long. The grain direction of the top veneer layer should run in the long direction. This will minimize splintering along the edges when you cut the ornaments later on.

Now stack the four pieces up like in the pictures and pdf sketch (Tree Drawing), and glue them together into a 'stepped' block. The pdf file gives all dimensions for 1/2 inch plywood that will result in a nicely proportioned tree.

Use the same technique with 3/4" plywood, and feel free to try different arrangements when gluing up the block. This way you can create different shapes for your tree ornaments.

Step 2: Making a Tree Blank

After the glue dries make a circular cut on both ends of the plywood block as indicated in the pdf sketch. This will be the profile of the tree's lowest branches.

Mark the diagonal line on the plywood block and cut along the line using your bandsaw, scroll saw, or hand saw. You can print the pdf file and glue it onto the plywood block as a template. Try to make this cut as clean and straight as possible. Do not use a table saw or miter saw; it is not safe for this small piece!

Now flip one of the plywood pieces over and you can start to see the shape of your tree ornament. Take a wooden shim and line it up between the plywood pieces. This is your tree trunk. Cut the shim to about 5 inches in length.

Use 5-minute epoxy to glue the three pieces together: plywood-shim-plywood. Clamp and let the epoxy harden. Wood glue will not work for this joint as the surfaces are likely to be rough and not well matched.

Step 3: Cutting and Finishing the Tree Ornaments

When the epoxy has cured you have a 1.5" thick tree 'blank' from which you slice your ornaments.

Take the blank to the band saw and using a fence cut off 3/16" (5 mm) thick slices. Here are your tree ornaments! You can probably cut five or six good ones from your blank! If you feel like it round over the tips of the branches for a softer look. Sand, round the edges, and stain to finish the ornament.

Build a little base to prop up your trees on the fireplace mantle.

Or drill a hole near the top and attach a string for hanging your ornaments.

Step 4: Variations

Make different shapes, sizes, colors, etc. Make your own shims from hardwood for a different look of the tree trunk.

If you have a laser cutter you can engrave the tree ornaments with names, year, greetings, etc.

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