Saturday, November 26, 2022

DIY Tree Collar from Scrap

I love Christmas! I love decorating. I love putting up lights. I love the joy of the season. I often go over the top, but at this point in my life, that is just expected by the people around me. 

We recently got a puppy. After we decorated the inside of our house for Christmas, one of the last things that we did was put the tree skirt around our tree. Within minutes the tree skirt had a puppy pee spot on it. So we took the tree skirt off, washed it, dried it, and hung it outside to air it out. We put the tree skirt back around the tree, and, I kid you not, hadn't even gotten it around the tree before there was a new puppy pee spot. 

So we decided that this would be the year to put a tree collar around the tree instead of a tree skirt (note: I find it kind of ridiculous that we have so many names of things that go around the bottom of trees that we decorate our houses with, but apparently that's where we are. For those of you not familiar, a tree skirt is a cloth that goes around the base of a Christmas tree, while a tree collar is a rigid barrier.)

I wouldn't pee on 
the tree skirt...

We started looking at tree collars, but this Renaissance Dad decided that I had enough scrap materials that I could just build one rather than spending money on one. 

So I started in the morning with scrap walnut, maple, and bead board. After a couple of hours I had the pieces cut to size, planed, sanded, and ready to assemble. I started putting them together, and then I decided that it would be fun to invite my ten-year-old to help me with the project. 

I got out the nail gun, walked through nail gun safety with him, and showed him how to use it. His first two nails went at an angle through the rail and came out the face of the bead board. Goodbye Pinterest-worthy tree collar...  

But as I fought back my frustration at not having a perfect piece due to inviting my son to participate, I recognized that the time we spent together working on that project far outweighed the small marks that nobody but myself would notice. I clipped the nails, punched them into the wood, and we were back in business. 


After the glue dried, my son and I spent time together staining the wood. I talked him through rubbing the stain into the grain, but he was busy thinking about Minecraft and trampolines and piano and puppies. His rubbing was sloppy at best (I'm not expecting a call about having  him apprentice with Norm Abram), but we had fun talking and working together. 

Later, as I assembled the tree collar, I thought about how every year, when I set it up, I will see the blemishes, the uneven stain, the nail marks, and I will remember the time that my son and I built something together for our family. So instead of blemishes and imperfection I will have fond memories  and reminders. Who cares if that can't make it to Pinterest? 
I wouldn't misfire 
a nail gun...

Merry Christmas! 

And for those of you looking for plans, this was fairly simple to put together. The size will depend on the size of your tree base. Remember that the interior of the box needs to be the exterior of your tree base, plus a smidge... 

I cut the rails out of scrap maple, and used pocket screws on the back side to make a frame. Note that to make a perfect square you will have to account for two sides overlapping to other two sides. So I have two frames that are 28" x 10.5", with the other two frames at 29.5" x 10.5" (the pieces that I was working with were 3/4" thick). 

I wouldn't eat sawdust...
I added a 1.25" walnut rail to the top, with both sides slightly overlapping the 3/4" maple piece. These we nailed into place with brad nails (next lesson will be making sure the nail gun is aimed straight down). 

All pieces were sanded, stained, and hung to dry. I love Danish oil, so that's what we used for this piece. 

When they were dry (or at least as dry as my patience would allow), we used 1/2" pan head screws to hold the bead board in place. I attached two sides together with corner braces, and then put the collar under the tree. One additional corner brace on each of the two corners and the collar is ready to go. 

I wouldn't lose my cool while 
doing a project with my kid...
Try to pee on that, Twixie! 

No comments:

Post a Comment