D.I.Y. mini balsa wood Christmas tree decoration
To make the centre of the tree, measure and mark the 26mm diameter dowel to 1300mm, cutting with a mitre saw. Draw a six-pointed star on the end grain then, from every second point of the star, mark lines down the side using an off-cut as a straight edge.
From the top of the dowel, measure along 1 line, marking 80mm from the end, then measure and mark 8 x 120mm intervals to make 9 marks. On the next line, measure 120mm from the top, then measure and mark 8 x 120mm intervals to make 9 marks. On the remaining line, measure 160mm from the top, then measure and mark 8 x 120mm intervals to make 9 marks.
Make a drill press jig by gluing 2 lengths of 12mm moulding to a length of pine to hold the dowel while drilling, then set up a drill press with 10mm dowel drill bit. Working down 1 line at a time, make the holes, drilling through the dowel at each mark. Use 180-grit sandpaper to smooth the holes and remove the lines.
On the lengths of 9mm dowel, measure and mark out the branches, with 3 lengths each at 760mm, 690mm, 600mm, 520mm, 440mm, 360mm, 280mm, 200mm and 120mm, cutting with a mitre saw.
You should have 27 branches, with 3 of each length. Cut the longest pieces first, then use off-cuts for the shorter ones. Smooth the ends with abrasive sandpaper.
To make the base of the dowel tree, on the 89mm x 19mm premium dressed pine, measure and mark out 2 crossbars 360mm long and 2 feet 120mm long, cutting with a mitre saw. Mark the centre of the crossbars by measuring widthways and lengthways.
Set up a drill press with a 28mm speedbor spade drill bit, then clamp a crossbar to drill through the centre to form the top. Remove then clamp the remaining crossbar, drilling just halfway through to form the base that supports the centre dowel of the tree. Sand inside the holes to widen them slightly.
On the 120mm lengths, use a countersinking bit to drill two holes, then position the pieces flush at either end of the top crossbar, securing with 30mm screws. Centre this top crossbar across the base crossbar, with feet facing down and centre holes in line. Check the centre dowel fits in the holes and smooth base with abrasive paper if needed.
Dab adhesive onto the half-hole in the base crossbar, tap in the centre dowel piece using a mallet and secure from underneath with a 60mm screw. Thread the dowel branches into the holes of the centre piece, starting at the base with the long pieces, working up.