Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas Tree Stand - DIY

I am addicted to surfing miniatures hobby blogs. I'll freely admit it. But as much as I troll the web looking for "gamer eye candy",  my wife does likewise but with home decor and home related do-it-yourself blogs. This is perfectly fine, of course, and occasionally spawns the "honey, we can make this, I know we can" conversation. Which is actually kind of fun. She has made a bunch of things on her own (sewing and craft projects), and we have made a few things together, like doll beds and picture frames. I generally get involved when carpentry and power tools come into play...

Recently, she saw a planter box plan for a deck planter that she really liked, and thought that the same basic plan could make a good Christmas tree stand. I thought so too. After a bunch of sketching and measuring and plotting and planning, we settled on a plan and bought the materials we needed. On Saturday we made the tree stand. It sort of followed a basic plan seen elsewhere, but was modified enough that I feel like it is something we came up with together, which is nice.

Materials List (roughly): (all wood was clear select pine, for eventual staining)
  • Two pieces 21" 1x6 boards (2 sides of inner frame)
  • Two pieces 19.5" 1x6 boards (other 2 sides of inner frame)
  • Twenty-four 15" pieces 1x4 boards (6 per side for 4 sides)
  • Four 15" pieces 2x2 boards (corner posts)
  • Approximately 16 linear feet of 1x2 board (top and bottom framing of each side)
  • Approximately 16 linear feet of 1x3 board (top and bottom trim of each side)
  • Cordless drill with bit for #6 screws and phillips driver bit
  • Dewalt 10" compound miter saw
  • Air compressor with nail gun using 2" finish nails
  • 1.25" wood screws (#6)
  • Wood glue
  • Fine sandpaper
The General Plan: The container would be built around an interior box (like shown in picture #1) that would serve both as a frame to construct around, as well as a 6" tall platform to raise the tree up off the ground. Each exterior side would be made of six slats of 1x4 lumber (each 4" wide nominal board is actually 3.5" wide, so the total width of six slats is 21"). Corner posts would be 2x2 to give some architectural relief. Tops and bottoms of sides would be 1x2s laid flat, and final trim framing all the way at top and bottom of sides would be mitered 1x3s. Like the raised corner posts, the final trim work is both useful for providing more architectural relief as well as hiding nails and screws. Everything would be nailed or screwed and hidden as best we could so that no visible nail or screw heads would be seen when we were done. Eventually, we plan to stain the container, but because we need to get the tree up and decorating done, we will use it unstained this year and stain it after the holidays.

Picture #1 - Lumber material and the old 24" square platform we have used the last several years. The old platform was dismantled and cut down to reuse the 1x6 boards and the plywood. Basically, we just turned the 24" square box into a 21" square box.
#1 - Materials (guitars optional)

Picture #2 - Basic components cut. 24 side slats and 4 corner posts are shown laid out around the interior platform pieces (along with one mitered piece of 1x2 framing). I was very careful to cut the 28 different 15" long pieces as exactly as possible.
#2 - Sides cut and laid out

Picture #3 - One side assembled and in place. The slats and corner posts are nailed in place down through the top and up through the bottom mitered 1x2 framing pieces. The bottom has had its mitered 1x3 trim board added to the very bottom (also nailed up through the bottom). The only visible nails at this point are those nailed down through the top of the upper 1x2, but these will be hidden when the final 1x3 trim is added. The completed side panel is screwed to the interior box by screwing through the 1x6 and into the assembled side panel from the inside using 1.25" #6 screws, which are too short to poke out the front. This first side is the front of the piece.
#3 - One side complete

Picture #4 - After having one complete side solidly in place, we simply built our way from front to back, doing the same thing we had done to the front panel, but rather than building one full side then attaching it, we worked out way down the sides one board at a time to make sure all boards were snugly together and we were not leaving any gaps as we went. We figured that any issues we couldn't easily fix or hide would end up on the back side of the piece which will be both hidden by the tree and facing the corner of the room, so nobody would ever see them. In the picture, you can see the ledge formed by the interior upright 1x6 platform framing. Since I was too lazy to cut the 24" square plywood piece down by hand (it won't fit in the miter saw and I don't own a table saw...yet...), I cut a few lengths of scrap lumber to 21" lengths and dropped them in to make the platform.
#4 - All sides complete

Picture #5 - All that remained after the four sides were complete was to add the final band of mitered 1x3 trim around the top to match the mitered 1x3 base at the bottom. We added this top trim without any visible nails or screws by screwing up into the bottom of the 1x3 trim (which is also wood glued) by coming up through the visible part of the top framing 1x2. You can only see the screw heads if you flip the whole piece over.
#5 - Top trim work complete. Done.

The Finished Product, with tree:
#6 - Stand (unstained yet) with tree 

All that remains is to stain the piece a medium brown color; something that will go OK with the family room furniture. This will happen after the holidays.

This was a fun project, which took us maybe 3 hours to complete. We could have gone quicker, but we were being very deliberate with our cuts and our nailing, and stopped a few times along the way to mull over the best next steps in our sequencing. We knew what we wanted to accomplish in general, but figuring out how to hide all the nails and screws was a bit of a puzzle at times. But an enjoyable puzzle.

As my wife noted when we were finished..."see, we can build anything..."

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