Introduction: Sustainable Wooden Christmas Tree
Haaaappy holidays!!! This year since a. I didn't want to go out to get a tree, and b. I wanted to be more environmentally conscious, I decided to make my own Christmas tree out of some old plywood!
It turned out so beautiful and is sturdy enough to be used year after year (not like those flimsy plastic trees). Plus, it's collapsible back into boards so it's easy to store until next Christmas.
This project definitely requires two people (unless you're super big and strong) because you'll be working with heavy boards of plywood. I recruited my dad since he has a nicely stocked wood shop.
Enjoy the project!
- 1 standard board of plywood (48 in by 96 in)
- 38 wooden dowels, 2 in.
- Dark green paint
- Silver or gold paint
- Circular saw, jigsaw, and/or hand saw
- Chisel, file, and/or Dremel tool
- Drill and drill bit
- Meter stick
- Protractor and/or ruler
Step 1: Draw Basic Tree Shapes
This tree is made up of two boards each with a slit on the top or bottom respectively that interlock.
The first thing you're going to do is draw the lines that you're going to cut. Use a straight edge!
To save wood, I made the triangles side by side. It was hard to see the lines in the photo, but if you follow the diagram you should be fine. Draw both the red and black lines.
Step 2: Cut Basic Tree Shapes
Next, use your circular saw (or jigsaw) to cut along the red lines in the diagram. I recommend doing the vertical line on the right first, then the diagonals, then the slits, and ending with cutting off the tips of the boards. (Refer to the diagram for more details.)
Make sure the inner corners of the slit are square. You can use a hand saw, chisel, rasp/file, or Dremel tool for this.
You'll be cutting out two big triangles with a slit down the middle the width of the thickness of the board. You'll also cut off the skinny tips of the big triangles. You'll be left with an extra rectangle and two right triangles. Save these to use later in the project.
Step 3: Add Support Dowels and Test It Out
Add 2 wooden dowel pins towards the bottom of the board with the slit on top. Space them for a snug fit of the board with. These will help stabilize the boards when putting them together so they don't wobble.
Slide the two boards into each other and make sure they fit together well. Adjust your cuts as needed.
Step 4: Make Your Zigzag "branches" Template
These will become your tree "layers" or "branches".
Grab one of your extra right triangles that you were left with from the first cut. (It should be half the size of your tree boards.) Using a ruler divide it into 4 even sections or just freehand it. Draw a 2-3 in. horizontal line at every mark and connect the inside end with a diagonal line to the next mark down.
Just imagine what a Christmas tree looks like and draw half of it if this doesn't make sense.
Step 5: Cut the Zigzag "branches"
Stack the template you just made on top of your two tree pieces (the full triangles with the slits).
Using a jigsaw or hand saw cut along the zigzag lines through all three layers (the template layer and the two tree layers).
Move the template to the other side and repeat, cutting through the two remaining layers (just the tree this time, the template will guide you but is already cut).
Step 6: Draw the Star Pieces
Sketch out a star shape on a piece of remaining scrap wood. I highly recommend using a ruler and protractor here. The bottom two legs can be a bit wider apart, since they'll sit on the tree, but the rest should be even. My star was 9 in. from tip to tip.
You'll also need to draw a holder for the star. Refer to the picture and make the width of each rectangle/slit equal to the thickness of the board. The length of the slits on the pointy sides should be approximately even with where the diagonal cut starts. My holder from end to end was 5 in. long. In the middle of the piece there should be a little multiplication symbol.
Step 7: Cut Your Star and Holder
Saw out the star shape and the outside of the holder.
Drill some holes into the middle of the holder where the multiplication symbol is and file, chisel, or saw away until you're left with clean corners.
Step 8: Assemble and Mark Ornament Hangers
Put your tree back together and use a pencil to mark where you want to hang ornaments. I thought 9 hangers for each face (2 half boards) was a nice number.
Step 9: Add Hangers
Disassemble and drill holes halfway into your boards where you marked them. It's important not to drill all the way through otherwise your dowels won't be long enough to hold your ornaments. Also make sure that you choose your drill bit to have a snug fit around your dowels. You can test out different sizes on a piece of scrap wood.
Step 10: Paint
The last step is to paint your tree. I happened to have some dark green paint left over from when we painted our front porch, but you can choose any color you want. Make sure you have a lot of it though, you don't want to run out. My tree took 2 days to completely dry and air out.
And that's it! Your sustainable wooden Christmas tree is done. Woohoo!!! You can decorate it just like a regular tree with ornaments and lights and whatever else you put on a tree. I'd love to see how your decorated yours in the comments.
If you made it all the way down here but decided you'd rather do a quicker, more simple Christmas tree craft, you can check out my Simple Magazine Christmas Tree that can be made in under 20 minutes :)
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