Wood Pallet Christmas Trees in Two Sizes and Paint Finishes
I am showing you today how to make a rustic pallet Christmas tree in two different sizes. DIY Pallet Christmas trees have been around for awhile 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 like were planning. These two pallet Christmas trees will be our front yard decor, surrounded by white branch light trees. Anyway you choose to use them they are so handy to have, easy on the wallet, and simple to make.
Christmas in July
Sam from Raggedy Bits and I have decided to post upcycles, and DIY Christmas ideas to celebrate Christmas in July. This week our theme is DIY Wood Decorations.
WASTE NOT WEDNESDAY
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Leanna @ Pretty DIY Home | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | Twitter
You will find Sam’s wood Christmas decoration at the bottom of my post. She creates all sorts of gorgeous Farmhouse themed projects, so make sure to look for her project as well.
It was so nice to make these pallet Christmas trees in July warm in the back yard 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 together outside.
Dismantling Wood Pallets
We began with three pallets, then dismantled them, salvaged all the wood we could and then I figured out the cutting pattern.
Instead of starting to prying each pallet strip from the pallet, cut off the two ends of the pallets first with a jig saw, (chop saw, skill saw). Cut across the pallet inside the nails and the cross bar. Then using a hammer, and/or pry bar carefully pry off the center of each pallet strip.
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 tree width.
Looking at the pallet picture you can see some of our pallet boars were narrower at about 4″ wide, and the rest (the ones of 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 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 smaller cracked pallet strips for the top of the tree, and the full size better pallet strips for the wide bottom.
Cleaning Pallet Strips
No one knows where the pallets have been, and ours were really dusty and dirty. We began by laying all our pallets out on the lawn, and pressure hosing 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 lets start the fun part.
Large Seven Foot Pallet Christmas Tree for Outdoors
Besides the pallet strips you will need:
3 – 2 by 4s. (we used two and some cut off pieces we had)
80 grit sand paper, sander
3 inch screws, a drill and screw driver
Little bit of wood stain in brown for the trunk, stand and optional on the pallet strips
White paint, paint brush, rag
Air nailer, or small nails.
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.
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 your using a skill saw or jig saw, I suggest doing the measurements first and draw a cut line and then cut. You don’t need to be perfectly accurate, nothing is fit together in a corner, the tree is meant to be rustic, and I think all Christmas activities are meant to be more about fun.
Once the first end is cut you can either flip your board and cut the second side making sure the angle goes from long end to short end on both sides. Or you can adjust your saw’s angle, and slide the pallet strip for the second cut..
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 strip , 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″.
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 depends 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 natural stain we had on hand. If I going to purchase stain I would have found a golden brown colour. The sanding and stain helped remove some of the greyish tone the wood had.
Even using the simiple clear natural stain, it made the texture of the wood stand out, I wish I had a little darker stain to use on hand. But using up free leftovers is always a good plan on 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 paint brush 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.
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.
Stain all the wood brown. We had a little bit of walnut left so we used that.
Using 3 inch screw 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.
Now your trunk and stand are done, the final part is assembling the tree.
Attaching the Branches to the Christmas Tree Trunk
It is much easier to do this with two people. One person holes the cross piece and adjusts, and 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.
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.
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 its shorter. 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.
Cutting Pallet Wood to Length
I felt it would look funny cutting each narrow pallet slate a bit shorter, so instead were building the smaller tree in sections, and cutting two boards at a time.
Hubs lined up two pallet strips together measured 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 by all means 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.
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 their were heavier patches n 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 sand paper.
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.
Assembling the Small Pallet Tree
The small tree is assembled by 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.
You may want to finish your tree with matte finish polyurethane. I actually skipped this step as I don’t care if our tree gets more rustic looking. This may be a mistake. but I will let you know how it works out.
Storing the 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.
Sam shares this fun and chic fabric Christmas tree with wooden stand.
I love how whimsical and festive it is. I want some!
I hope you try to make your own Christmas trees, I adore mine and it was a fun way to spend a evening out in the yard.