DIY Maker Tree

This year, I spent a tad bit too much time on Pinterest and came across several varieties of wooden Christmas trees that I thought would be absolutely PERFECT for my classroom! I asked…(ahem, begged)…my incredibly talented husband, Andy, to build one for my Makerspace, and of course, he got to work in his dad’s workshop and followed through with such a beautiful and functional design that my kids absolutely LOVE. I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve such a generous and handy teacher husband, but my students and I are so blessed to have him. You should have seen my kids’ reactions when they saw it set up in my classroom!

Of course, he had two little busy bee helpers right by his side all along the way!  We always try to involve Ellie and Beau as much as possible in our projects. 

One of the things I love most about our Maker Tree is the beautiful ties to geometry and patterns. The wooden branches can be rotated in so many different ways to create different designs.

Here’s the rundown for how to create this little beauty for your home or classroom:

Home Depot Material List 

(Estimated Material Cost about $40)

1. 3/8 inch 16 x 36 inch Rod

2. About 40 feet of the finished Select Pine boards that are .75″ x 1.5″ x 8′ (This totals to 5 pieces but you might want to grab an extra for mistakes.)

3. 3/8 inch flat washers 100 pack  

4. 6 pack of 3/8 inch jam nuts

5. 8 foot 2 x 4 board (This will be for the tree stand.) 

6. Black wood paint or any other color you would like to use. 

Tools Needed

1. Hammer

2. Wrench 

3. Saw 

4. Drill with 3/8 inch drill bit and a 1/2 hole bit.

Directions 

1. The first thing we will make is the the wood pieces for the branches of the tree.  We will first saw a 1/2 inch piece of wood from the 1×2 board to make the wood template.

2. Saw a 1 1/2 inch piece of wood, which will be the starter piece for the top of the tree.  

3. Lay the 1 1/2 inch top piece combined with the 1/2 inch wood template piece on top of your board and mark the next piece. 

4. The template makes measuring and sawing the boards a snap.  Each piece will grow 1/2 inch as you work down creating the tree.

5. Once you get to the bottom of the tree make 3 or 4 pieces that are 2 inches long boards for the stem of the tree.  

6.  Once you have all the pieces in place, mark a center line down the middle of the tree. 

7.  From the mark line on the side create a new mark on the top of the wood to mark the center drill hole.

8. Drill a 3/8 hole in the wood.  You can drill 3 or 4 at a time.  Just make sure you line up the pieces carefully.   You may want to use a wood clamp to hold down the wood pieces.  

8. Attach the 3/8 inch nut and a washer at the top of the rod.   Continue drilling the wood pieces and placing them on the rod with one washer between each board.

9.  To create the stand of the tree, saw two 20 inch pieces from the 2 x 4 board.    

10.  Mark the middle of the board at the 10 inch mark and then place the 2×4 piece across the board to mark the sides.   Saw the two marks halfway where the board will intersect.  It should look like the following picture.  

11. With a hammer, hit out the center piece of the sawed out portion.  

12.  Make a 45 degree angle cut on the end of the Stand.  This doesn’t have to be perfect.  Just make a mark and cut the corner. 

13.  Repeat the process with the other 2 x 4 piece.  Then fit the pieces together for the base.   They should fit very tightly together where you can use your hammer to fit them together.      

14. Once you fit the pieces together, you will use the 1/2 inch hole saw on the bottom and drill only about a half inch so the bolt and nut can fit into the piece of wood on the bottom of the stand.   Also, drill a 3/8 hole in the center of the 1/2 inch hole for the rod to go through the base.  The rod will go through both base pieces and a nut will be placed on the end of the rod to fit tightly within the 1/2 inch hole.

15.  Once you finish attaching the tree, stem and stand pieces together on the rod, it should look like this.

Take the tree apart for painting. I used two coats of black to give it a solid matte finish, which the kids both helped me with.  Let dry for a few hours and put it back together!

I set our Maker Tree up on a table in our Makerspace with a variety of materials for students to create ornaments with such as paper plates, pipe cleaners, construction paper, craft scissors, toothpicks, and sparkly foam balls (actually vase filler found in Hobby Lobby’s Christmas section). Since I have almost 300 kids rotating through Makerspace weekly, I encouraged them to be resourceful and conserve supplies as much as possible. 

The magic is in the mess.


Dr. Brené Brown 

I think this quote is oh so appropriate for this beautiful holiday addition to our Makerspace, don’t you?!  If you choose to make your own, I hope you love it just as much as we do! As you’re working through the instructions, if you have any questions, please feel free to email Andy at andy@teachoutsidethebox.com

Happy Holidays and Happy Making!

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