Make a Giant Folding Christmas Tree!




I had these aluminium tubes lying around and thought, why not make a christmas tree for the garden?

It is probably most convenient to watch the video. It shows all the steps.

Minimum tools you will need:

  • Any Drill
  • Hacksaw
  • Jigsaw and Chisels

Reccomended tools:

Materials you need:

  • 20mm Plywood
  • 16x 20x20mm - 30x30mm Aluminium Tubes roughly 1.2m long.
  • 40x40mm Aluminium Tube roughly 3-4m long.
  • Some kind of Outdoor Paint
  • 8 Metal Hinges
  • 16 lengths of 10mm or 3/8 Inch Allthrea
  • Christmas lights
  • Star with light inside

Step 1:

Step 2: Cut Out the Rings!

CNC Files (downloadable or viewable online)

Whole Assembly (downloadable or viewable online).

You can download Fusion 360 for free!

You can cut them with a CNC, a jigsaw and chisels, or even 3D print them. I used my CNC since its the fastest and easyest way. The CAM setup should be included in the files above and you can adjust them for your CNC. I used an 8mm end mill for all paths. Some sanding might be required on the edges.

"This is easy when you have a CNC."
Yes it is. But it was difficult to build the CNC in the first place.

Step 3: Seal the Plywood!

Seal the plywood with any kind of outdoor paint. Primer is a good idea. Plywood can easily suck up mositure at the edges and become warped. I used plywood that is used for concrete moulds, so the top surfaces are already covered with a waterproof resin.

Step 4: Cut the Aluminium Tubes!

Yes, you can cut Aluminium with your mitre or table saw. I regularily cut aluminium on my mitre saw and it is still very sharp. Use a lubricant. I am using rancid organic wallnut oil. Its fancy but rancid. : )

I used 20x20mm Aluminium that has build in slots to receive T-nuts. This makes assembly a lot easyer but it is optional. You can use regular square tubes just as well!

I used leftover aluminium. They all had slightly different lengths, so I ganged them all up and cut them to length in one go. This saves a lot of time and work, but you need to make sure that they are clamped down good!

The legs and the diagonals should be about 1.2m long for a 3.5m high tree.

Step 5: Drill the Holes for the Hinges!

You need to drill 16 holes in total that match your hinge pin diameter. I made a little jig on my drill press to make the allignment easyer. Aluminium will always catch with standard drill bits, so go slow.

Step 6: Cut the Hinge Pins!

You need 16 hinge pins with a diameter of 10mm or 3/8 inch. I used all thread and leftover bolts. The length does not have to be exact.

Step 7: Attach Metal Hinges to the Diagonals!

Use metal hinges to connect the diagonals to the legs. Since I am using aluminium tubes with slots cut into them, I can use T-nuts to attach them. They make it really easy to adjust them later on. But of course you could also use standard square tubes and rivets or screws to attach them. This only requires more measuring and drilling holes.∫

Step 8: Assembly the Legs and the Bottom Rings!

Now that all parts are cut, you can assemble the tree.

Start with the legs and the bottom ring. Insert your hinge pins into the holes in the legs and put them on the ring. They should fit perfectly into the channels. Cap the whole thing with the top half of the ring and fix it with screws.

You can also insert the stem and fix it with a long screw to the bottom ring assembly. (The video says more than a thousand words.)

Step 9: Add the Diagonal Members!

The diagonals should be attached to their corresponding legs. Then you can lean them against them stem and slide down the lower half of the top ring. Move all of the hinge pins into the groves and add the top half. Fix it with wood screws. I decided against pre drilling these holes with the CNC, since it would have required a tool change for a smaller end mill. This works just as well and you don´t need nuts.

Step 10: Pat Yourself on the Back!

The sliding mechanism is done! At this point you can decided wheather you want this to become a christmas tree or an umbrella. I am sure there is an instructable somewhere that shows you about the sewing.

Step 11: Add Eybolts for the Lights!

Drill holes into the top of the stem to attach some eybolts. Since I used the slotted Aluminium profiles, I could use T-nuts for the eyebolts on the legs.

Step 12: Attach the Lights and a Star!

I used zip tights to attach the lights at the top and the bottom. In total I used about 70m of LED Lights.

The star was slid over a metal rod that I attached to the very top of the stem. You have to figure this out yourself since all stars are different. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Step 13: Admire Your Work and Receive for Compliments From Your Neighbours!

This christmas tree should last for many years. And during the sommer it can be folded and stored away.

Step 14:

Homemade Gifts Contest 2016

Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2016

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Participated in the
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Participated in the
Make it Glow Contest 2016

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Participated in the
CNC Contest 2016



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    8 Discussions


    2 years ago

    what is the format for the downloads? I can not open them>

    1 reply
    Max MakerDannyH25

    Reply 2 years ago

    Hi, they are Fusion 360 files. You should be able to open them with Fusion 360 which is pretty much for free. As I am writing this the servers are down unfortunatley, but that should just be a temporary issue.


    2 years ago

    Hope you don't mind that I shared the idea for others to enjoy here,

    1 reply
    Max Makerwirenut1980

    Reply 2 years ago

    Not at all. I am supprised, that there is a Forum for this. So I guess you are hardcore decorators?


    2 years ago

    Excellent design/idea! You should really enter this in a contest!

    1 reply
    Max Makerjoseph07

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you very much! I hoped there would be a christmas contest. I entered the CNC contest instead. Maybe I am lucky : )