Make a Rustic Upcycled Wood Christmas Tree

Lead Image
What You'll Need
wooden pallet
small plywood base
antibacterial liquid soap
scrub brush
old rag
work gloves
measuring tape
hand saw
craft paint
paint brush
wood glue
Christmas lights

With the holiday season upon us, it’s the perfect time to work on a few decorative craft projects to add some celebratory décor to you space. This upcycled pallet Christmas tree is simple and easy to make. The steps are a breeze and you can modify it to fit into any type of décor.

This small Christmas tree can be made to look rustic or glitzy -- whichever works best for your home and your decorating theme. All you need is an old pallet, some paint and glue, and you’re ready to go. And don’t forget about a set of lights to really give it the holiday spirit when it’s time to display it.

Step 1 – Find Your Pallet

If you don’t have an old pallet lying around, take a visit to your local grocery store or nursery and speak with a manager about your project plans. These businesses typically have extras that they are willing to give away.

Step 2 – Clean Your Pallet

You may need to give it a good cleaning. Small insects can make homes in the wood so be sure to wash it with some antibacterial soap before you begin your project. Fill a bucket with warm water. Add a few squirts of antibacterial liquid soap. Immerse a scrub brush into the soapy water then shake off any excess liquid. Use the brush to clean the pallet and remove any dirt and debris from the wood. Wipe it dry with an old rag and then leave it for 24 hours to dry completely.

Step 3 – Disassemble Your Pallet

Put on a pair of work gloves. Carefully pull the wood pieces of the pallet apart. Be particularly careful of any rusty nails in the structure. You may need to use a hammer or a pair of pliers to completely disassemble the pieces.

Step 4 – Measure the Pallet Pieces

Once your pallet pieces are separated, you will need to cut them to the correct lengths for the tree. Lay the boards out onto the ground to determine which the best pieces are for each length of the tree. Use your tape measure and pencil to mark off 7 lengths including 4.5, 8, 12.5, 15, 18, 21 and 34 inches.

Step 5 – Cut the Pallet Pieces

Use your hand saw to cut the pallet pieces at the marks you made with your pencil. Lay the pallet wood over a support to make the cutting process easier. When all of the pieces have been cut to size, lay them horizontally over the longest board. Lay the longest board vertically onto your work surface. Place each of the other boards horizontally across the longer one. The boards should be placed in order from the smallest to the longest, with the smallest at the top and the longest at the bottom. Be sure that the boards are centered properly and that there is the same amount of space between each board. Draw a line from the furthest points of the bottom board along the edges of the remaining boards up to the top to create a triangular shape. Use your pencil to also mark where each of the boards should be secured. Cut along the pencil marks on the ends of the boards to create an angled edge and a triangular tree shape. Use your sandpaper to smooth out the ends of the cut boards.

Step 6 – Paint the Boards

Lay some newspaper onto your work space to make the clean-up process easier. Place the boards onto the newspaper. Load your paint brush with craft paint and apply a coat to the top sides of the boards. Give the wood enough time to dry thoroughly. If necessary add another coat of paint. When the top side is complete, turn the boards over and repeat the process so that all sides of the boards are covered with paint. If you plan on placing your pallet Christmas tree outside, you may want to consider applying a coat of Vearathane over the paint to protect it from the winter elements.

Step 7 – Assemble Your Christmas Tree

Lay the longest board vertically onto your work surface again. Place each of the other boards horizontally across the longer one. Place them in order from the smallest to the longest using pencil marks as your guide.

Step 8 – Secure Your Christmas Tree

Apply a liberal amount of the wood glue to the back of the horizontal tree boards and then place them carefully back onto the vertical tree trunk, making sure they go right back to the place you marked. Place some heavy objects onto the boards to help them adhere well as the glue dries. A small stack of books is perfect for this job. Allow about 24 hours for the glue to dry completely before you attempt to move your Christmas tree to stand it upright for display.

If you would prefer, you can attach the boards using small screws and a drill. Use your drill and screws to secure your tree to the square plywood base.

Step 9 – Add Some Lights

The final touch for your Christmas tree is to add some decorative lights. You can choose to attach single light accessories or an entire string of lights. Whether you use one light or an entire string, be sure the cords are safe and meet safety standards. Once your tree is lit up, you might want to consider adding a star to the top. After that, it’s ready to put on display.

Photos courtesy of Shannon MacIsaac.