A Pine Tree for Christmas
At the end of November, Remodelista featured the Filigrantrae, a Danish wooden Christmas tree that can be used year after year. I was taken, but the marthaandtom production budget didn’t exactly have $275 floating around with which to fulfill all our Scandinavian holiday fantasies.
Almost immediately after seeing the images on Remodelista and then Design Public, a little idea floated into my head… I could make this myself. A typical I-could-make-that feeling turns into “I could make it, I just didn’t” …but not this time.
With the aid of a math problem made Facebook status, I developed a plan, helped along by Emma’s Designblogg‘s sharing of a series of photographs originally from Bolig Magazine of a Danish family’s home with one of these babies in every room (at $275, you bet they come in multiple colors: rødt, lime, sort, hvidt, and lilla). This was the final inspiration I needed.
With only hours left before snow would seal us in our apartment for the foreseeable future, we made a mad dash for Home Depot on Friday night. While everyone else was stocking up on snowblowers and shovels, Tom and I were shopping lumber. At $26.86 before tax — power-sawing included — we were off to a good start.
As of yesterday evening, we now have a fully-decorated tree that can be used again and again.
Before you head to your local lumberyard to buy out their dowel supply, I would share that this wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I have a renewed understanding of what it means to have the right tools for the job and a steadier hand with a drill. With all of the mistakes that went into this one, I was very tempted yesterday to throw out the central pole and begin again (I bought different drill bits midway through the project almost doubling the total cost. But at less than $50, I’m still not complaining).
While it’s not perfect, I’m taking the suggestion of my father (who I must thank for his willing participation in a video-chat planning session on Saturday) and living with all the character of this first attempt. With no further work in store, I finished just in time for my self-imposed deadline of December 15, the night before my family’s tradition of reading the Novena de Aguinaldo is to begin.
- Four ½” round pine dowels, each 48″ in length cut into twelve sections in varying sizes*
- One 5′ pine closet pole**
- One tapped ¼-20 wood insert
- One bolt to fit the above insert (mine was about 2.5″ long)
- One pine 1×4 cut to lengths of 16.5″ (2 pieces) and 4″ (two pieces)
- Wood Glue (you’ll need screws and/or wood clamps to get a tight seal)
- Drill (ours is cordless) with the following drill bits:
- Wood specific*** bit (for drilling into the center pole)
- A smaller but not too small bit for creating pilot holes before using the ½” bit
- ¼” bit (to create holes in the base and central pole for the bolt
- ⅜” bit (to create a hole in the central pole for the wood insert)
Don’t forget wood scraps for practice if you’re less-than-handy with your drill. I bought a 1′ section of a closet pole in addition to the 5′ central pole of the tree to practice making ½” holes and kept the extras from the 1×4 to prevent my drill from going through our living room floor.
All measurements included are approximations based on studying pictures and descriptions of the original Danish design. If you plan to make your own, don’t worry about sticking too carefully to the exact specifications listed here. Note also that the original design uses birch, which is no doubt much easier to obtain in northern Europe than in a big box wood retailer in the midwestern United States, where pine is widely available for a very low cost.
Notes & Tips
*My plan called for 1×4″, 3×6″, 2×10″, 2×16″, 3×20″, 1×18″, 1×26″.
** The original design has an angled cut at the top… I forgot to request this of the staff at Home Depot. This is probably best done with a handsaw at home, though.
***Using drill bits not made specifically for wood working may result in much less than perfect drilling. For best results, DO NOT use a flat bit, even if it is specified for use on wood. I used this brand and was able to buy a single ½” bit at the hardware store. For help getting to know your drill, click over to Design*Sponge’s new feature on building your toolbox.