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A dowel Christmas tree in an outdoor area in front of a dining table with garden lights strung up above

Overview

Simple and elegant, this D.I.Y. timber tree is a perfect festive centrepiece. Made using two thicknesses of dowel, it's a straightforward project if you have a drill press. If not, clamp the dowel before drilling to make sure the holes are straight.

Steps

1Make the centre of the tree

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.

Green Bunnings hammer
Pro tip: You should have 3 lines to indicate the staggered set out of the branches.
Timber dowel centre.

2Measure and mark

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.

A square rule used to mark a piece of dowel for drilling dowel holes

3Drill the holes

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.

Green Bunnings hammer
Pro tip: If you don't have a drill press, use a drill with the same jig, clamping the dowel before drilling to ensure straight holes.
A length of dowel being drilled into to create branches of a dowel Christmas tree

4Measure the branches

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.

A mitre saw being used to cut a piece of dowel

5Make the base

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.

Cutting two pieces of timber for a dowel Christmas tree crossbar

6Drill a hole through the centre

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.

A bore spade drill bit being used to gouge a hole in a piece of timber as a base for a dowel Christmas tree

7Add the crossbar

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.

A crossbar being assembled for a dowel Christmas tree

8Insert the dowel and add the branches

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.

More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.