We’re continuing on with our 12 Projects of Christmas, and today we have a new fabulous guest to introduce you to! Eliza from Best Friends Pizza Club put together a cute and easy plywood Christmas tree, complete with lights and shiny ornaments — a perfect tree alternative for a minimalist or just because you love it like I do!
Read below for the details from Eliza, and be sure to check out all of our Christmas projects this year to see even more easy and quick decor and gift ideas!
Hey there everybody! I’m Eliza and I’m hopping over from my regular blog to show you how to make a super simple, super low-key Christmas tree that will fit into even the teeny-tiniest of homes. If you’re like me and don’t really get the whole crazy intense seasonal decoration thing, this project is the perfect way to show the world that you’re not a total grinch, you just have a totally sophisticated and refined palate. (It’s also really easy to make, even if you’ve never touched a saw before.)
You can check out more of my projects at Best Friends Pizza Club, where I’m documenting my sometimes-inept attempts to transform my apartment from a mid-20’s disaster pile into a real Adult™ Home. Some of my favorite projects so far are my my $100, four day kitchen redo, a mid-century cabinet I built to cover an ugly in-wall air conditioner, and my sadness-banishing gigantic silly fake-woven wall hanging. I’m also chronicling my slightly obsessive journey towards replacing all of my cheap, ugly household items with cheap, beautiful stuff, because owning Danish scissors and an acacia cutting board makes me feel extremely grown up.
Alright, let’s make a tree!
How to Make Your Own Plywood Christmas Tree
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- 1/2″ birch plywood in whatever size you’d like your tree to be
- 2 small angle brackets with included screws
- a string of twinkle lights
- duct tape
- jig saw
If you’re artistic, you can go ahead and draw a Christmas tree shape on the back side of your plywood. If you’re terrible at drawing like me, you can use your computer to make your own tree shape, or download the one I made. (Illustrator file or PDF) Resize the outline to be whatever size you want your tree to be, then print it out on multiple sheets of paper, which you’ll tape together and cut out to form a stencil. Trace around your giant tree shape on the back of your plywood (whichever side is the least pretty).
If you live in a little apartment and can only dream of having a dedicated project garage, I feel you. But as long as you have a broom and accommodating roommates, any space can be a temporary wood shop! This is my setup, complete with a state-of-the-art Two Box Fan Complete Dust Management System (to keep sawdust mostly out of the rest of the apartment.) This is also where I should tell you to use earplugs, because a jig saw in a confined space is incredibly loud. (Also use eye protection no matter what, because your eyes are beautiful and they deserve it.)
Clamp your plywood to a table and start cutting out the tree with your jig saw! If you’ve never used a jig saw before, don’t try to do the sharp angles in one cut. For the curved tips, you kind of want to sneak around half the curve, then come in from the other side to complete the second half. Here’s a very technical diagram:
When you’re done with the first side, rotate the plywood and cut out the other side. (Make sure the saw has enough clearance from your table, otherwise you might accidentally cut the corner of the table off. Not like I know from experience or anything.)
Sit back and admire your formidable jig sawing skills. You just made a tree! Out of another tree! What a time to be alive! Your are now a woodworking expert, and should feel confident going toe-to-toe with the likes of Norm Abram or Nick Offerman.
Sand the edges of the tree, because your jig saw has probably murdered the veneer on the back of the plywood and splinters suck. At this point, you can totally be done–screw a heavy duty hanger onto the back and hang it on a wall, or just lean it against some furniture and carry on with your now-festive life.
If you want to get a little fancier, let’s install some lights!
Decide where you want your lights to be. I went with a “random” scattering, but I also think a marquee-style outline of lights would look amazing. Making a random-looking pattern of lights was incredibly difficult for me (brains loves patterns!), so I grabbed some chads from my three hole punch and sprinkled them on the tree to help out.
Then I removed the about half of them, marked the position of the remaining ones, and started drilling. You want to use a drill bit that’s just slightly bigger than the base of your lights–I used a 1/4″ bit for my regular old incadescent Walgreens clearance lights, but yours may be different. Make sure you’re drilling from the front to the back of the plywood, as the drill will cause tons of tear out when it exits the wood. If you haven’t worked with birch plywood before, be aware that drilling will take a while. There might be smoke. Don’t get scared, it’s normal. Be brave and don’t give up.
Poke your lights through the holes and tape the cords down with duct tape. Use white duct tape to class it up a little. I also added some shiny gold paper circles I had sitting around to the front, but you can decorate with pretty much anything you want.Then go through the scraps you had left after cutting out the tree, and find one that’s roughly triangle-shaped with one right angle. Screw that to the trunk of the tree with angle brackets and ta-da! It’s a stand! (My original piece of wood was a little crooked so I used a shim to get a better angle.)
Grab a stack of hardcover books for a stand, plop the tree on top of them, and have a glass of wine because you’re amazing and you deserve it.
- Paint: Sherwin Williams untinted white
- Cotton and leather woven rug: Wayfair
- Chair: Craigslist/DIY
- Desk: vintage
- Poster: print by Dud Lawson
- Wall hanging: DIY
- Deer skull: Home Goods
- Mudcloth pillows: DIY
- Tall vase & leaves: Hobby Lobby
- Tiny dog: roommate’s
More easy Christmas DIYs:
How to decorate a rustic woodland Christmas tree
Make a pinecone wreath — in under an hour!
Tips for decorating a simple rustic woodland winter mantel
Extra large rustic lighted wood star for just $5