The Treeless Christmas Tree: A Tutorial
Updated: Aug 21
By Laura Bissessar, with Joseph Campbell
Do you have a small space? Are you allergic to evergreens? Do you have a deranged cat? Follow this simple tutorial to build this multi-shelved X-mas tree, and never find Cuddles McFlufferton in your tree again**.
** Not guaranteed because, you know, cats.
Our home projects usually involve scrap wood and a little creativity. This Christmas tree project is no different, however the base is a fairly simple build requiring few materials. The creativity comes when you’re ready to decorate.
Overall Dimensions: 24”W 36”H 16”D
The Scraps (Materials):
- 37”x33” Pre-laminated plywood for tree base
- 36”x15” Pre-laminated plywood for shelves
- Piano hinge with included screws
- 1 ¼’’ screws (about 14)
Tools We Used:
Circular saw, clamps, drill, impact driver (or as I call it: the other drill), bench top belt sander, portable band saw (you can use a hack saw). Note – we also used a 4’ level as a straight-edge rip guide to make the initial cut for the tree, but you can use any other type of straight-edge material as a guide.
Optional tools that we used, but are not necessary (there are steps for both): Table saw, homemade template for the triangle shelves, 23-gauge pin nailer.
1. The Base. To make the two large triangles, you’re going to rip cut the 37”x33” plywood piece diagonally in half with the circular saw. Use a straight-edge to draw your line and clamp the straight-edge down to use it to guide the circular saw as you make your cut. We used the level as our straight edge, and set up our plywood on some scrap pieces to avoid cutting the work table.
2. The Piano Hinge. Use the portable band saw or hack saw to cut the piano hinge to 34”. The piano hinge will go on the back of your tree, so butt the triangle pieces together, place your hinge on the long, straight side of the plywood, and use the screws provided to attach the piano hinge into the plywood. The base is finished.
3. The Shelves. With your tree base standing, mark where you want your shelves to go and measure the depth of each shelf. Our four shelves measured 15’’, 10’’, 6’’, and 2’’ in depth. Using your remaining wood, you’re going to use the table saw to cut squares that measure the depth of the shelves, so 15x15’’, 10x10’’, 6x6’’, and 2x2’’.
4. Now you’re going to cut the squares diagonally in half to make the triangular shelves. Here’s where we used an old homemade template to pass the square pieces through the table saw. We got a little fancy by not cutting them exactly in half, but about an inch past the halfway point. DO NOT cut the 2x2 piece. It is too small to do so safely. Use the bench top belt sander to sand down approximately half of the square.
Another Option: If you don’t have the means to do this, you can always use the circular saw in the same way you cut the tree base triangles to make the shelves. For the 2” shelf, you can use your cutoff from the 15x15” board and cut the tip of the triangle off at 2”.
5. Final Assembly. With your shelf positions already marked on the tree base, it’s time to screw in your shelves. We used the pin nailer to temporarily hold the shelves in place from the outside of the tree base, but this is optional. Using even spacing, use two, 1 ¼" screws on each side of the shelf to screw them in from the outside (use only one screw on each side of the 2" shelf).
6. Have a cookie that’s shaped like a tree. You’re done!
There is no right or wrong way to decorate your tree. I like that we’re able to put ours on a small end table for everyone to see. We affixed lights and garland to ours, and I hand painted another piece of scrap wood to personalize our tree. Mostly, we used old decorations to keep it simple, because Christmas doesn’t need to be all that complicated anyway.
I have to say though, I’m just happy that all the glitter I used to decorate washed off.
All photos and content are original by Laura Bissessar.
Please do not use without my written consent. Thank you!