Driftwood Christmas Tree – Pinterest Challenge

Hello, hello!  Last Wednesday I read this post from these two
uber-talented (and funny) gals, Katie B and Sherry P and
REALLY wanted to participate.  This time around they
are co-hosting the challenge with Ana White and Erin from
House of Earnest.  I stalked followed the summer challenge
and just loved the idea and the projects that were
submitted.  A few of my favorites were this state art by Amy,
this wedding invitation ornament-check out the link, I
couldn’t find this crafty mom’s name on her blog.  And an
old camping chair turned word art by Kelley, Love it!  But at
that point I hadn’t taken the plunge into Pinterest OR blogging.  But, I had
just gone beach combing with my man to gather driftwood to make something
like this pic  I had pinned.  (Pic source here.)

Turns out this little challenge was the driftwood that broke this be-ach’s back…so to speak.
And, since I live on the island of Curaçao and am literally surrounded by driftwood AND
fancy myself a DIYer I figured I’d give it a go.  First, I made this one:

then I made a couple more…

As you can see, I played around with decorating them with a combination of coral, sea
glass and more traditional Christmas tree décor.  And from there I was unstoppable.  Well,
except when Ellen came on.  Seriously, Justin Timberlake and Cold Play for the whole
hour?!?!  Yes please!

For a complete rundown, here was my process over the course of a few days: Gather driftwood – Free and Fun! Especially since I was with the hubs.  🙂  When we got
the wood home it ended up in a pile on our patio and I started organizing it by size and
separating the odd shaped pieces that might make good “tree trunks”.  (Yes, we clearly
over-gathered, but there are other projects in sight.)  I basically ended up with two
long lines of wood in the shape of a VERY tall tree.  This made it easier to select pieces
for the individual trees I was going to make since the end shape I wanted was, well, a
tree.  Brilliant!  With the pieces all laid out I sprayed them with an anti-bacterial cleaner
and let them dry thoroughly over the course of a few days.  Then just brush off any
loose sand, etc as you select pieces to use.  (Please excuse the black dog leg and tail in
the photo, you can formally meet her here.)

Buy dowels – I got ¼ inch diameter in 48 inch long segments and ½ and ¾ inch
diameter in 36 inch lengths.  I can give pricing, but being that I live on a Caribbean
island everything is inflated.  Let’s just say they’re cheap. 🙂

Make sure you have the right size drill bits – One that is the exact size of the dowel and
then one slightly bigger (the wood goes on the dowel MUCH easier if the hole is slightly
larger, but the snug fits are good for stability).  I used a 5/16 inch drill bit as my
“slightly bigger” of the ¼ inch and a 9/16 inch drill bit for the ½ inch dowel.  TIP!!!
Drill the thinner pieces and the smaller pieces of driftwood at the top of the tree the
exact size as the dowel, 
the thinner/smaller the piece of wood = the easier to finagle
the tight fit.

Gather your tools – I used a hand saw, electric drill, tape measure, pen and vice grips.
From my experience the vice grips will only be necessary if you insist on man
handling a piece of wood onto the dowel and then the dowel breaks while stuck
in the wood.  TIP!!!  I learned, after a few vice grip usages (I am nothing if not a
slow learner) 
that if the dowel starts to stick in the driftwood make the hole slightly
larger by maneuvering the drill in a 
circular motion with the drill in the existing
hole and DON’T try to show it who is boss, you will lose.

DIY it!  I started by selecting the longest piece of driftwood I wanted for each specific
tree and then selected increasingly smaller pieces until I had the height I wanted.  The
possibilities really are limitless.  Do you prefer a short, stout tree?  Or maybe a tall,
slender tree that would fit nicely into a corner?  Or maybe a petite little one for a side or
coffee table?  I like the “diversity” of the wood.  So I would try to pick a round piece
after a flat piece or maybe one that had some paint or texture after a flat, smooth piece.
But again, make it to your own style.  Maybe a more streamlined look of all the same
color and shape is more your style?  Once I had the wood for the tree selected I picked a
“trunk”.  The biggest determining factor in your options is going to be what you were
able to find at the beach.  (I can picture you saying “Why thank you Captain Obvious!”
right now.)  Anyway, it is what it is so pick from what you’ve got, or distress a small
block of 2×4 or something that could work.  Then I laid my selections out to 1) make
sure it seemed like it was going to look good and 2) measure the length of dowel I
would need.  I didn’t actually use the tape measure for this part, I just eye balled it
and cut the dowel with my handsaw.  I kept mine plenty long figuring it would be easier
to cut more at the end than to end up needing a longer piece.  (And, there are some
really cute tall tree toppers that could be used if the dowel is left 6 or so inches taller
than the actual tree.)

Now, just drill it – I used the drill bit the exact same size as the dowel in the “trunk” so
it fits nice and snug.  (As you can see from the pics a real work space is not needed.  I
stacked a couple unused patio bricks to create a work surface (with a small separation
in the middle for drilling and sawing) and sat in a beach chair because it was just the
right height.)  Measure half the length of the piece of wood and then I just eye balled
half the width.

I actually kept the tape measure in the locked position and right there on my work
surface because you will repeat this step for each piece of wood.  (Remembering to
switch between your two drill bits as you see fit.)  I chose to drill one piece at a
time and then add it to the tree as I went, then I could see how each piece looked
and determine which drill bit I should use next.  After a few accessories these are a
couple of the trees I ended up with.  What do you think?  I would love to hear your
feedback!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read about my little project.  I’m looking forward
to seeing what everyone else made for the challenge.  I’ve been thinking that I might try
a driftwood version of something like the tall tree in this picture…

How would I make the longer style trunk?  Maybe glue small pieces of driftwood to cover
the exposed dowel?  Would it look like bark…maybe? Only one way to find out.  🙂  I found
this tree pic here.  I have linked to the Pinterest Challenge on each of the hosts’ pages
herehere, and here.  I also linked to Beneath My Heart’s “Best DIY Projects of October”
here.  Please check out all of the places I have linked to here here, here and here.

Just for fun here is the view I had from Pilates Monday morning.  I hope you are all
enjoying your space today!

Leave a comment

81 Comments

  1. Looks great! I love driftwood , too — ah, to live by the beach! Where will you put your trees?

    Reply
  2. Thank you Astrid for taking the time to leave a comment! You have all kinds of great things on your blog! I will actually be selling some trees at an upcoming Brit Club (I saw you are British – it’s one fun bunch!) meeting. I am an American living in the Caribbean and a member of the Brit Club. Go figure. 🙂 I do hope to make some bigger ones and then we’ll see where they end up in our small space. Enjoy your space today!

    Reply
  3. Dana

     /  November 3, 2011

    These are AMAZING! I love these trees. If only I lived near some driftwood! Somehow scouring the banks of the Mississippi in St. Louis doesn’t sound nearly as wonderful as your time on the beach. 🙂

    Reply
  4. Carole Chang

     /  November 3, 2011

    Your trees look neat Karah & I love your blog! Success with your venture & have a lot of fun meanwhile! Looking forward to your ‘exhibit’ at The Brit Club meeting in december!!

    Reply
    • Thanks Carole! I am having fun with the blog and the trees. I’m looking forward to the meeting, and Pub Quiz Saturday, see you there. I hope you’re enjoying your space today! 🙂

      Reply
  5. THANK YOU Dana! I have been following you since I saw your side table on Knock Off Decor! Love your stuff. Not sure if you’re a baseball fan, but congrats on the Cardinals’ World Series win. Looking forward to what you come up with next. Thanks again for taking the time to comment. 🙂

    Reply
  6. Oh Wow!! I am so touched that you loved my House Rules made from a camping chair! The funniest thing is that this weekend I was at Crafts Direct in St Cloud, MN and found these rules as a vinyl rub on. I could have saved so much time! Oh well!

    I love your project! Very creative!

    Reply
  7. Oh my goodness I am so jealous of your Pilates and the view! These trees are beautiful! I love that you used something so organic and repurposed it into something so pretty. Driftwood is pretty on its own if you ask me.

    Have you linked up with Creative Me Monday? It’s open all week long and I’d love to have you! You can link up as many projects as you’d like! The link is:

    http://www.thesoutherninstitute.com/2011/11/creative-me-monday.html?utm_source=BP_recent

    Hope to see you there!

    Reply
  8. It turned out great. I especially like the first one. Very artistic and natural. You have the jackpot of driftwood. I bet there are a lot of creative ways to use it.

    Reply
  9. Wow I can’t believe you can find THAT much driftwood!! I’m living in the Caribbean right now and it is few and far between… but I have been stocking up on sea glass! Thanks for sharing, I’ll have to scour the beach to find enough to make a tree!!

    Reply
  10. Love you trees! wow, to live on the beach, what a dream come true! Lucky you!

    Reply
  11. My goodness, these are so cute! I’ve been meaning to make one for a while, your cute trees have definitely inspired me to actually do it. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  12. Thanks for linking up! I’ll be featuring this on my blog on Saturday!

    http://sumossweetstuff.blogspot.com

    Thanks!
    Sumo:)

    Reply
    • Well you sure know how to put a smile on a girl’s face! I’ll post about it, put it on facebook and spread the word. Thank you so much!!! I’ve had fun searching around your blog, I’m your newest follower! Thanks again.

      Reply
  13. What a great and unusual idea to use driftwood to make christmas trees.
    Good job!
    Kathy

    Reply
  14. Such a cool, beachy tree. Great for warm weather Christmas.

    I’d love for you to add this idea (and any others you like) to my weekly Thrifty Thursdays blog party. Here’s the link:Thrifty Thursdays

    Reply
  15. Those trees came out great! Very neat idea.

    Reply
  16. rebekahdawn

     /  November 10, 2011

    How cute! I’ve never seen anything like that before – very unique and creative!

    Reply
  17. Love your Driftwood Christmas Tree. A girl after my own heart! I have handmade Driftwood Sailboats and Whales up on my blog and would love for you to check them out. I’m also giving away a Driftwood Sailboat. Glad I found you…..Sherron

    Reply
  18. this turned out fantastic!!! Great job!!

    Reply
  19. Hello there. I love this idea. LOVE. I shared this on my COM-FB page. Have a super night. winks, jen

    Reply
  20. Nothing better than crafts from nature. Love the Xmas tree ideas, clever and so cute!

    Reply
  21. That would be perfect in my beach house!!

    I’d love for you to come join in my Simply Christmas link party at http://shabbyartboutique.blogspot.com

    Reply
    • Thanks for the invite Kerryanne! I did link up but I don’t know how to add your button to my link party page without a grab box. Would you be able to email me the code? And, I want a beach house!!!

      Reply
  22. Hi! this is so unique. thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • hahaha! Gotta love someone who loves the look of aged natural elements so much she takes something perfectly brand new and puts so much work into making it look all used up. Very creative!

      Reply
  23. Ok… I love this project even more than the pillow! Thanks again for linking up at FiF.
    ~Kimberlee, The Spunky Diva

    Reply
  24. This is gorgeous! I would love to feature this on Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle. Feel free to stop by and grab a featured button. Thanks!

    Reply
  25. This is such a great idea! So glad you linked up with us! Have a great week!

    Marie
    mylilpinkpocket.blogspot.com

    Reply
  26. Love this little tree! I wish we lived somewhere with driftwood 🙂 I’m so glad you liked my state art too [blushing]. Thanks for linking it!

    Reply
  27. Wow..what a fantastic post and I so love these trees you have created….I saw you over on Inspire me Friday and had to visit.

    Reply
  28. Thanks for this tutorial that I found by googling xmas driftwood trees. I don’t live near the beach, but I just go in the forest and collect fallen off branches. I hope this will give a good enough result! Just tired of cleaning up pine needles, and I am very muchinto DIY lately. So this looks like a great project.

    Reply
    • I think branches will work great. I’ve made a few bigger ones since this post and just used a 1/2 or 3/4 inch dowel for the bottom half and drilled straight down into that dowel with a 1/4 inch drill bit and inserted a 1/4 inch dowel to finish up the top. Hope you have fun making yours! Happy Holidays!

      Reply
  29. Karah- I LOVED this project the moment on saw it. Then I saw that you had joined my crafty christmas tree challenge and I’m so excited! I think yours will be the only handmade tree with handmade ornaments- that’s awesome- not to mention such an unusual take on the normally tradition pine tree.

    Reply
  30. I love your trees! Must go searching for some driftwood soon.

    Reply
  31. What a unique Christmas project!! I’m so jealous that you have all of that driftwood at your fingertips!!

    Thank you so much for linking this up to the 26-Day Christmas Craft Marathon Linky Party!!

    ~Lisa
    http://www.lisascraftblog.blogspot.com

    Reply
  32. this is such a cool idea! i love the rustic look!

    Reply
  33. This is great! I started something similar but ended up with something totally different so I still have this on my to-do list.
    Emily
    domesticdeadline.blogspot.com

    Reply
  34. I love how this driftwood tree. I would love for you to add it to my Best of 2011 link party, as well as any other projects you are most proud of from this year. Visit http://www.petalstopicots.com.
    ~Kara

    Reply
  35. What a cool idea! I love it – we live right by the beach as well, so I could totally make this! I’ve got this linked to my Christmas trees post too today – happy holidays!

    Reply
  36. Karah,
    It’s so rustic! And, beachy, and…natural!
    I’m glad that your family decided to keep it up all year. I Pinned it at http://pinterest.com/pin/218495019391459133/

    I’m hoping that we will make one of our own. Since we live in the Midwest and not on a beach – lucky bird – ours will likely be a bit more rugged. We can use fallen wood from the woods!

    So excited!
    Thanks for sharing your tutorial!
    ~ Dana
    Cooking at Cafe D

    Reply
  37. I’m gonna get in trouble for this, so hopefully not a lot of people are coming back to read your first post and if they do, that they don’t read my comment. But sometimes I can’t help myself when I think of something funny, sooooo

    I started by selecting the longest piece of drift wood too, his name is Brawn.

    ~Bliss~

    Reply
  38. Lots of fun here today, Karah!
    I might go to Pilates if my view looked like that.
    Great work!
    P.S. I’m going to call Miss Bliss out on her comment-
    I saw it, Mrs. Brawn! What a laugh!

    Reply
  39. creativeinchi

     /  April 2, 2012

    Karah…look what I saw on my vacation in California http://www.creativeinchicago.com/2012/04/come-to-beach-with-me.html

    Reply
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