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Project Ideas: Seasonal & Holiday

How to Make a Plywood Christmas Tree

There are several reasons why anyone should and can make a Christmas tree out of wood for the holidays. 

Besides just being in the creative spirit, the need to make one personally was based out of my girlfriend's allergies, so making a custom tree that was painted made from plywood was the safest and most creative option for our home. Here's how I made it.

STEP 1: Gather Materials and Measure 

A good start for this or any project would be visiting your local Home Depot store for supplies and if needed, tools. For this project, I decided to make a tree that wasn't too small or large, so 30" for the final height and 18" for the width works well. 

Using 1/2" thick plywood for the tree is sturdy enough to hold up and to be transported easily.

Using a T-Square (shown in image above) and a ruler, you'll need to make measurements of the size of the tree. For this specific tree, I took a design element from packaging to 'join' the tree without the use of nails or glue. 

This is done so the tree can easily be stored away during the non-holiday times of the year.

The final design involves 4 pieces, 2 for the tree itself. One is a dowel rod to hold the star on top of the tree. 

In terms of the sizes of all 4 pieces they are:

2-  15"W x 30"H pieces of plywood at 1/2" thickness

1- 3/8" downrod cut to 6 inches

1- 5" x 5" 1/2" plywood

Once you have marked out and measured the sizes needed, you can now continue to the next step.

STEP 2:  Custom Cutting the Tree

This step is important but a fun one. Cutting a slot alongside the middle section vertically of one tree is done, but in opposite top and bottom sides so they fit into each other. 

Cutting is best done with a jigsaw after marking the slots, which are the width of the plywood (1/2") and halfway the height of the tree (15 inches). The image above shows the marks being cut as well and the image below. 

Once the cuts are done from the top and bottom of the 2 sections, you can now fit them together to ensure it is a flush and snug fit (shown below).

If you need to make any adjustments you can, but both pieces should be flat and square on the floor. Next, take the pieces apart and you can start on one section the outline you wish to cut out of the tree.

In doing this step, you can choose from online images of tree outlines or do it free handed, which is what I decided to do. 

To make one section look identical to the other, you'll need to keep the scrap pieces of plywood cut and use it as a template when it's time to cut the other.

Step 3: Sanding & Making Sure the Pieces Fit

Make sure the first section of tree has been cut symmetrically using the cut plywood pieces before moving onto the second one. 

As shown in the image above, testing the integrity of the tree by making sure it fits at each step is important to see it will safely rest on its own. To greatly help with that, sanding is really a must at this step once the cuts have been made.

Use an orbital sander with 150 grit or 220 grit sandpaper to remove any rough edges from cuts. After removing the excess sawdust from all surfaces you can now move onto the other part of the tree: the star!

Step 4: Making and Mounting the Star on the Tree

Depending on what size and style or even if you want a star on top of the tree will determine what best suits your tastes.

In this project, I decided to go originally with a larger star, but ultimately went with a final 5" size so as not to overshadow the tree itself. Since you can always make anything in wood smaller but not bigger, it's always the rule of thumb whenever I'm working.

After sanding down the star, you are now ready to mount it on top of the tree. Using the 3/8" dowel rod, you'll need to drill holes in the top of the tree and the bottom of the star for it successfully affix to it. 

Cut down the dowel rod using a power saw of your choice down to 6 inches, which will give the star enough clearance to move if need be. 

Step 5: Painting Your Tree

Once all the pieces are securely in place, you can now opt to paint it with your choice of coating. For my tree, I decided to do 2 different colors of green (a lime and Kelly) to finalize the base. 

To ensure the paint lasts for a long time, opting for an oil-based primer ensures any top coat will not easily be removed over its lifespan.

For the star, I opted for a glitter spray paint to give more reflection to it. 

Once you allow proper drying time for your paints, you can now decorate the tree as you wish!

I chose a design where the edges of the tree sections can easily hold up lights, ornaments, or even decorations. For a more safer option, you can choose to cut small holes in the wood to hold them into place, or to just round off the edges more.

We decided to decorate the tree via painting on the sections themselves, leaving us with a great new tradition every year to paint new memories!

Of course, as with any custom project like this, any sizes or materials can be altered towards your budget and personal preferences. The possibilities are endless for whatever final design you'd like to make for the holidays.

Happy building/Holidays, and let us know if you have any further questions regarding this project.


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Posted 2018-12-05T20:47:08+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL Joseph_HD_ATL
Thank you for the great project idea Joe.

I think I'm going to make one and use Unicorn SPiT to finish it. Maybe I can give it an antique look. 

I think this was be a great project to do with the kids. It's pretty simple and really fun. They can get really creative with the finishing process and if they are a little older you can start to show them how to use the hand tools.

Thanks again Joe for the fun project.
Posted 2018-12-05T22:08:03+0000  by Christine_HD_OC
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