Posts Tagged ‘making christmas decorations’

Hand Made Christmas Trees

It’s just four weeks to Christmas and I’ve been busy making a few Christmas trees in the workshop!

I’ve always had a fascination for homemade decorations ever since my mother used to take me to the Christmas market in Nuremberg.  So many happy memories … especially the wonderful aroma of smoked sausages on what I remember as a massive grill along with stalls full of wonderfully crafted Christmas delights.

So I got to thinking … I wonder if any of my readers would like to own their very own handmade Christmas tree?

The largest trees are approximately 125 millimeters high and 60 millimeters wide.  (5 inches by 2.5 inches) and handmade in my workshop in Hampshire England.

To order your very own Christmas tree simply hit the link below and enter ‘Christmas tree’ in the email subject line and we’ll drop you a note back with details of the prices and any associated postage costs.


Hope to hear from you soon!

Best wishes.

John And Tania The Rural Gardeners



Read Full Post »

Ideas for a hobby - Woodturning

I was thinking earlier today just how lucky we are to have our hobby’s. They really are the perfect antidote to the stress of the daily grind i.e. work.

I have the garden which is fab of course, but it’s about this time of the year my attention shifts from the garden to indoors … or inside the workshop on my lathe to be more precise.

It was about 7 years ago when I met my woodturning friend Stuart through a friend. Stuart is an extremely accomplished wood turner and what he doesn’t know about woodturning you could get on the back of a stamp!  He’s also a thoroughly nice bloke.

When I met him he was in the middle of making a few items for a special event. After a long chat and several cups of tea I knew I needed to give this woodturning thing a go.

If only I could reach a reasonable standard perhaps I could make a few things for the house? It certainly sounded like a lot of fun but potentially dangerous fun so I’d definitely need some guidance on the health and safety side of woodturning.

I seem to remember doing a bit of wood turning when I was at school when I was studying for my CSE’s as they were then (barely studied at all to be honest).

My class were 5C and for those of you that may remember the 70’s we had a TV comedy show in the UK at the time called Please Sir which was about a gentle teacher (Smiffy) and his somewhat boisterous class of adolescent teenagers who were also called 5C.  I seem to remember there were striking similarities with my class, but one thing I do remember is I really enjoyed woodworking with Mr Woodward (yes that really was his name). I still have fond memories of making the obligatory fruit bowl on the old school lathe.

Great times … life was so much simpler in those days.

Anyway … Back to the present and after much thought, I jumped in the car and headed off to Axminster Tools and bought me a small hobby lathe and at the same booked me a couple of lessons with Stuart.

It took me about a year to become proficient to the point where I was confident and safe and it was about another year before I finally got around to making something I thought worthy of bringing into the house.

Table Lamp

This is the first finished piece I made for the house. It’s a bedside lamp I made for Tania from a piece of English Yew which still has pride of place. It has a slightly unusual twist pattern which I think gives it a kind of unique look and presented a few challenges when I was making it.

It’s functional which is pretty much what I try to achieve with everything I make on the lathe. Take this table I made a few years back.

Home made Mahogany table

It’s made from a couple of mahogany table tops that the local school were throwing away to make way for a new classroom.  Absolutely nothing wrong with the wood. All it needed was a little care and attention.

The top of the table and the stem are turned on the lathe and the legs are made using a band saw to cut the sections and regular hand tools to achieve the finished shape.

How to make a round top occasional table

For the top I took 2 boards, planed them flat and glued them together to get the extra width I needed for the top. I cut a rough circle shape on the band saw and then mounted it on the lathe to get the perfect circle and to add the edge detail.

It turned out ok in the end … and to think the wood nearly ended up in a skip!

I’m planning to make a few Christmas presents on the lathe this year. I’m thinking Christmas tree decorations. I can make them on the lathe using the branch thinnings from the beech tree which we removed in the summer and use some wood dyes to add a little colour. I just need to remove the wood from the inside or I can’t see them hanging on the Christmas tree too well!

Make your own Christmas decorations

I might attempt to paint a nativity scene on the side or persuade my mother in law as she’s learning to paint at the moment.

I’ll keep you posted as they progress and probably post a few pics if they turn out ok.

Back soon.

Best wishes

John And Tania The Rural Gardeners

Read Full Post »

Make your own Christmas star from an old  pallete

I make no secret of the fact that we both absolutely love Christmas. Everything about it from welcoming the family back for a feast of fun and merriment to putting up the Christmas decorations. A Christmas without decorations is unthinkable in my view … but they don’t have to cost the earth.

We were in John Lewis a few weeks back and spotted a delightful wooden Christmas tree made from what appeared to be scrap wood.

So it got me to thinking I might have a go at making my own by recycling an old pallet I had hanging around. On closer inspection the wood was sound and was weathered over time to a silver patina … a bit like oak when it’s been exposed to the weather.

If you want to have a go at making your own you’re going to need a regular old palette which you can pick up from your local builders merchant or building site. Most builders I know are more than happy to get rid of them. But do ask as some have to go back to the suppliers.

You’ll also need a length of 1\2 inch dowel approximately 30 inches long which you can get from any of the major DIY stores. This is for the stalk that runs up the middle.

Make your own shabby chic wooden Christmas tree from an old pallete

All this from one old palette

You’re also going to need a few basic tools like a hand saw (table saw would be quicker) some regular wood glue, a drill and a large drill bit capable of drilling a hole to take the dowel.

The construction is pretty basic. All you need to remember is this is shabby chic which basically means it doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact we’re looking for anything other than perfect.

If you take a closer look at the pics you’ll see the element’s that make up the tree are:

  • Two base sections glued together with a simple half lap joint
  • A central stem made from the 1\2 inch dowel
  • Spacer blocks for in between the branches. (2 x 2 inch pieces cut from the longer pieces of the pallet)
  • A bunch of branches made from thin strips of inch and a half pallet wood
Learn how to make your own shabby chic wooden Christmas tree

Learn how to make your own shabby chic wooden Christmas tree

It really doesn’t matter in which order the pieces are made. This is how I approached the construction of my tree.

  1. Prepare two pieces of timber 1.5 inches by 1.5 inches by 18 inches for the stand of the tree.
  2. Mark a line in the centre of each piece and measure an inch and a quarter back on either side from this centre point. The gap is the exact width of the other piece that will form the half lap. (If you’re not sure what a half lap is the internet is full of videos that show exactly how it’s done)
  3. To add a little style to the stand add a taper from the middle to the outside. To do this measure from the top of the piece and put a pencil mark a quarter of an inch down at each end
  4. Draw a line from the mid section we marked earlier to this mark. This should produce a gradual taper. Do the same on all four ends of the stand and you’ll have a nice taper on all four sides.
  5. Cut a half lap on each piece making sure you cut on the top of the stand and not on the bottom as I did with my first attempt!
  6. Next drill a hole in the centre of the top section of the stand ready to take the dowel and glue the two pieces of the half lap and leave to dry.
  7. Prepare the branches by sawing a series of strips about an inch and half wide and approximately 3mm thick. The longest lengths are 24 inches and the shortest at the top are around 3 inches. You don’t need to be too accurate just so long as you make plenty of branches as you’re going to need around 30 pieces in total. Also bear in mind looking at the tree the branches get shorter as you make your way up the tree. To make it easier I made a triangle template from MDF of the shape I wanted and used this as a guide for the width of the branches. I then took each strip and cut it to the width of the shape. Each section has 3-4 branches and is separated by a small spacer. Also another tip is to make plenty of spare branches!
  8. Find the mid point of each branch and drill a half inch hole through the centre for the dowel.
  9. Now the fun bit … start building your tree by simply sliding the branches and spacers onto the stem in whatever configuration you fancy.
  10. Finally finish your tree with a little white paint to give it that Chrismassy feel, or alternatively you could leave it natural. As you’ll see from the pics I rather over did it with the spray can and wish I’d left more of the wood natural. I’m going to make another one and the plan is to leave it natural.

Hey presto you have your own shabby chic Christmas tree! And all from an old redundant palette. Not bad eh!

How to make your own Christmas tree from wood

If you fancy having a go please send us your pics as we’d love to see how you get on.

Best wishes,

John And Tania The Rural Gardeners







Read Full Post »