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DIY Pallet Christmas Trees for Outdoors

Wood Pallet Christmas Trees in Two Sizes and Paint Finishes

I am showing you today how to make a rustic Christmas tree in two different sizes. DIY Pallet Wood Christmas trees have been around for a while and look so chic and festive for Christmas. Put one on your front porch as a backdrop, or a pair of them in your front yard. Anyway you choose to use them they are so handy to have, easy on the wallet, and simple to make. These two pallet Christmas trees will be the perfect addition to our front yard holiday decor, surrounded by white branch light trees.

It was so nice to make these pallet Christmas trees in July warm in the backyard instead of in November bundled up and freezing in the garage. The neighbours must have wondered what we were up to, but it was a fun way to putter along together outside.

Where to Find Pallet Boards

Hubs found these pallets by asking his old employer at a concrete factory. You often see them for free from the Facebook marketplace, they disappear fast, but make a note of the location, and ask a couple of weeks later. Ask on Facebook marketplace or Reddit. Drive to your local warehouse & industrial area your liable to find some by asking for them. Liquor stores, hardware stores, and grocery stores are good sources, especially if you’re a regular customer.

Step 1 – Dismantling Wood Pallets

Like any pallet project, the first step is dismantling the pallets. We began with three free pallets, dismantled them, and salvaged all the wood we could. Some of the wood is unusable, so three pallets are a good idea.

Instead of starting to pry each pallet strip from the pallet. It’s a good idea to cut off the two ends of the pallets first with a jig saw, (circular saw, chop saw, hand saw). Cut across the pallet inside the nails and the crossbar. Then using a hammer, and/or pry bar, carefully pry off the center of each pallet strip.

A wood pallet showing where to cut the pallet to remove the wood.

Flip the pallet over and do the second side.

By cutting the pallet each pallet strip will be about 36 inches long, which is more than long enough for the width needed for the tree shape.

Looking at the pallet picture you can see some of our pallet boards were narrower at about 4″ wide, and the rest (the ones at the bottom) were 5″. Once we had the pallets dismantled we stacked the board according to size. The 5″ boards will become a taller tree, and the 4″ boards a smaller tree.

It depends on what kind of pallet you use, and how good the wood is, cracks, missing pieces, etc. You will need 2-3 pallets to make both trees. We saved every piece of wood and used the shorter pieces of the pallet slats for the top of the tree, and the full-size better pallet slats toward the bottom of the tree.

Step 2 – Cleaning Pallet Strips

No one knows where the pallets have been, and ours were incredibly dusty and dirty. We began by laying all our pallets out on the lawn, and pressure washing them all off with clear water. We let them dry, flipped them over, and did the other side. For the final drying, we lined them all up on their ends along our fence.

Now that we finally have our wood ready and organized let’s start the fun part.

Large Seven Foot Pallet Christmas Tree for Outdoors

Pallet Wood Tree Supplies

  • 3 wood pallets
  • Circular saw ( or handsaw etc)
  • Hammer
  • Pry Bar
  • Tape Measure
  • Mitre saw
  • 3 – 2 by 4s. (we used two and some cut-off pieces we had)
  • 80 grit sandpaper, sander
  • 3-inch screws, a drill, and screwdriver
  • A little bit of wood stain in brown for the trunk, tree stand, and optional on the pallet strips
  • White paint, paintbrush, rag
  • Air nailer, or small nails.

Step 3 – Cutting Pallet Wood to Length

Let me begin by showing you what all the wood looks like cut, it makes it much easier to visualize. I drew Hubs this pallet tree pattern, with the cut lengths.

The backside of a tall pallet Christmas tree showing the individual boards.

As I said we made the tall tree with 5″ wide pallet strips, and one board per section.

Start with the bottom pallet strip, cut the lower edge to 36″, and the top edge to 30″. On his mitre saw Hubs said the angle ended up being 31.6 degrees. If you are using a skill saw or jig saw, I suggest doing the measurements first drawing a cut line, and then cutting. You don’t need to be perfectly accurate, nothing is fit together in a corner, the tree is meant to have a rustic look, and I think all Christmas activities are meant to be more about fun. Although we made these easy diy pallet Christmas trees as a couple, the whole family could easily get in on this Christmas project.

Once the first end is cut you can either flip your board and cut the second side making sure the angle goes from the long end to the short end on both sides. Or you can adjust your saw’s angle, and slide the pallet strip for the second cut.

Using a large mitre saw to make angle cuts on wood pallets for making a Christmas tree. There is an arrow pointing to the spot where the angle of the cut is measured.

Once you get the first pallet strip cut, you can use the first cut edge as the guide for your next cut.

For the second pallet slat, cut the lower edge to 34″, and the top edge to 28″. Repeat this pattern of reduced length going up the tree until you reach the top piece. The tree ends with a point and the bottom is cut at 4″.

Here are the patterns showing each individual pallet strip cut length,

Two different rustic wood pallets for Christmas, The wood pallet trees are for Christmas decor one is white and the other one is stained wood. They are decorated with simple Christmas decorations.

Step 4 – Finishing the Pallet Wood

Once the wood is cut you need to refinish the pallet strips before attaching it to the tree trunk. The steps you take will depend on the final look you want.

For the finish on the tall tree, our pallets were very grey and I wanted to show lots of the wood. To get this finish begin by giving all the pallet strips a quick sanding with 80 grit paper to remove any slivers.

Then I stained it with the natural stain we had on hand. If I was going to purchase stain I would have found a golden brown colour. The sanding and stain helped remove some of the greyish tones the wood had.

Staining pallet wood for making a DIY Pallet Christmas tree for outdoors

Even using the simple clear natural stain made the texture of the wood stand out, I wish I had a little darker stain to use on hand, using free supply leftovers is always a good plan for a rustic project.

Let the stain dry, turn over, and stain the other side.

Dry Brush Paint the Pallet Wood

To dry brush the wood use whatever white paint you have handy.

Dip the very end of your paintbrush into the paint. Lightly wipe most of the paint off onto a rag. Then apply the paint to your wood with a very LIGHT touch. Just paint the wood wherever you like making sure to leave lots of the wood showing. I only have two suggestions, place more paint on one board, then less paint on the next one making the tree look rustic and weathered.

Step 5 – Building the Frame and Stand

Decide how tall you want your tree to be. Then cut the 2 by 4 to form the tree trunk. Ours is cut to 7 feet.

Cut two pieces of wood 15 inches long and two pieces 13 inches long.

Cut 2 by 4's for making the trunk and stand of a DIY Pallet Christmas tree.

Stain all the wood brown. We had a little bit of walnut left so we used that.

Using 3-inch screws predrill and then screw in the two 15″ pieces across the 4″ side of the 2 by 4, front and back.

Then attach the two 13″ pieces across the two 2″ sides of the 2 by 4.

Simple DIY wood stand for a wooden pallet Christmas tree

Now your trunk and stand are done, the final part is assembling the tree.

Step 6 – Attaching the Branches to the Christmas Tree Trunk

It’s much easier to do this with two people. One person holds the cross piece and adjusts, while the second person measures and nails the branches to the trunk.

Start at the top of the tree, place the first piece so the point of the front covers the trunk. Nail in place.

The back side of a DIY pallet Christmas tree showing the measurements for centering the branches.

As you work your way down the tree the measurements will change, just make sure the sides are the same distance. Continue until your tree is done.

Add the second part and measure from the edge of the 2 by 4 trunk to the point on your branch. When centered the distance from the trunk to the point will be equal on each side.

Two tall pallet wood Christmas trees sitting outside for Christmas decor. They are painted in shabby white with stained trunks and have a Christmas tree farm sign beside them.

Second Tree- Shorter Five Foot Pallet Christmas Tree

I don’t know why exactly but I find this little smaller tree beyond cute. It is painted more white than the first tree is, and of course, it’s smaller. We used smaller 3 1/2″ wide wood strips from our pallets for this tree, so instead of reducing the width size of each cross piece, we reduced the width on every second piece.

Step 1- Cutting Pallet Wood to Length

I felt it would look funny cutting each narrow pallet slate a bit shorter, so instead we’re building the smaller tree in sections, and cutting two boards at a time.

Hubs lined up two pallet strips together measuring top and bottom according to the pattern, I helped hold the two boards together and he cut them two at a time, reducing the number of cuts in half.

The downloadable pattern shows each section with a Top, Middle, and Bottom measurement so if you feel more confident cutting them individually do so.

The bottom of the lowest section is cut to 34″, the middle is 32″ and the top is 26″. Each section is 4″ shorter than the one below it. If you need more specific information I give exact measurements on the pattern.

Cutting pallets for a DIY wood pallet Christmas Tree craft idea

Step 2 -Finishing the Pallet Wood for the Small Tree

The finish for the smaller tree is painted white much more than the first tall tree.

Once cut sand all your pallets with 80 grit paper, to remove slivers.

I did not stain the wood at all, instead I gave it a thicker coating of white paint still using the dry brush technique.

Pay attention to where the paint is on each cross piece, I made sure that there were heavier patches on both sides of the tree so that although it looks patchy and rugged it doesn’t look off-center.

Once the tree is assembled, sand off bits of paint with the 80-grit sandpaper.

Step 3 – Building the Base and Trunk

The base for the small tree is made exactly like the taller tree, except I chose it to be five feet tall. Hubs cut the 2 by 4 trunk to five feet in length. Everything else was done the same way for both trees.

step 4 -Assembling the Small Pallet Tree

The small tree is assembled in sections, two boards at a time. Start at the top, fit the section edges together so they are flush, and measure from the edge of the 2 by 4 trunk to the outside point of the bottom pallet strip ensuring the distance is equal on both sides.

The small tree has seven sections or 14 boards. As you work your way down the tree the measurements will change, just make sure the sides are the same distance from the central trunk. Continue until your tree is done.

The small tree has seven sections or 14 boards.

Step 5 – Final Finishing

You may want to finish your tree with matte-finish polyurethane. We skipped this step as I don’t care if our tree ages and gets more rustic looking. This may be a mistake. but I will let you know how it works out. This year I left the Christmas trees more rustic and natural looking, I think it would be a great idea to swag some Christmas lights on the tree as well. If you want to light your Christmas trees I suggest attaching little hooks or nails to suspend the lights from.

Storing the Pallet Christmas Trees

To store your tree remove the screws, place the stand pieces in a bag, and lay the tree(s) on their side. Because the tree is meant to be rustic, I think you could store it outside, ours are getting stored in the rafters of our unheated garage.

I hope you try to make your own Christmas trees, I adore mine and it was a fun way to spend an evening outside in the yard.

Other Wood Christmas DIYs

A large rustic diy wood sign in dark walnut stain with a gorgeous white forest silhouette.

DIY Wood Sign for Christmas Decor

You can make this dramatic rustic DIY wood sign for Christmas and use it throughout the entire winter. It’s so cozy making me think of a sparkling white forest.

Gorgeous DIY Wood Tree Stand

Wood DIY Christmas Tree Surround

This rustic Christmas Tree Surround can be made in an afternoon, and then stained. I have used it on a couple of different Christmas trees and it always adds to the rustic charm of the Christmas tree’s theme.

One Comment

  1. Tammy Fry says:

    thank you so much for these instructions! very helpful!

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