My dad was the quintessential handyman who never paid someone to do things, instead learning how to do it all himself. Car repair, roofing, tree trimming, window replacement, deck building, plumbing, electrical… even building an entire garage nearly single-handedly– my dad did it all.
About 20 years ago, my dad totally gutted and remodeled the entire kitchen in the little 1960s ranch home where they lived for most of my life.
His remodel included custom building and installing all new solid oak cabinets, new window and door trim, new baseboards, and a chair railing. It was truly impressive.
This fall, we finally listed the house for sale after my parents’ passing. The first day on the market, we had multiple showings and multiple offers. The buyer whose offer we selected included a letter stating that he could see the love and craftsmanship my parents had poured into their home. I’m sure that kitchen was a part of what made such an impression.
After we cleared out the last things from the house, there was still quite a stockpile of scrap wood odds & ends that my dad had stored up in the rafters of the garage. I kept looking at them, thinking that it would be a shame for them to get tossed in a dumpster, and finally just decided to have my husband pull them all down and load them in the Jeep to take home. Then, I’d figure out what to do with them.
Scrap Moulding & Trim
Here it is, all lined up in my garage. 😂
Once we got it all down, it became clear that a great deal of it was leftover trim and moulding pieces. Some were leftover from the chair railing that lined the kitchen and hall. Some were baseboard trim, some door casing, and some trim and edging pieces from the actual cabinets themselves.
There were even some fairly decent-sized pieces of solid oak left from building the base cabinets.
After we got it back to our house, I spent some time just looking at it, brainstorming what I might be able to do with it. That’s when the idea of making Christmas trees occurred to me.
I liked the idea, because there was enough trim pieces there to make a few trees–enough for me to have a set for myself, plus make a set for each of my kids. As a Christmas decoration, it would be something we could set out year after year, as a way of including memories of my parents, and my childhood home, in our Christmas traditions. 💕🎄
My husband got out his miter saw, and adjusted it to cut 45 degree angles. I had a picture in my mind of how the trees should look, so I gave him the measurements for each piece, and he did the sawing.
I mixed and matched different trim pieces of different textures and widths, and just experimented until I got the look I wanted, even using the back side of some pieces, because I liked the varying textures and ridges.
We made six trees altogether, and no two are alike.
The tree trunk stand is also made from oak scraps from the top of Dad’s garage.
Even the tiny finish nails that I used to attach the trim pieces to the “trunk” are Dad’s. Plus, I used Dad’s hammer to assemble the whole thing. ❤️
We cut small square bases from Dad’s scrap wood to make the stands.
And then drilled a screw up from the bottom, through the square base and into the “trunk”. We also used a bit of Gorilla glue for extra stability between the base and trunk.
When all 6 trees were assembled and the glue was dried, it was time to paint them.
The two I’m keeping for myself, I decided to paint white. I dipped just the very tips of the bristles of a chip brush in the paint, and dry brushed it on lightly.
For my kids, I used a mixture of colors, again brushing on lightly with a chip brush.
When the paint was completely dry, I moved the trees back outside, and gave the paint a rough sand to distress the trim pieces and highlight some of the ridges in the wood.
Staining the Base
Then, I used this little can of gray stain that I’ve already gotten so much use out of for other projects, and stained the base. I applied, and then wiped it off with a rag, like I did for my floating frame project. This way, more of the wood grain shows through.
As a finishing touch, I printed out a picture of my parents’ kitchen, and a label indicating that all of the materials to make these trees were leftover from that project.
My hope is that these trees will be around for a very long time, maybe even passed down to future generations. No matter where they end up, whomever has them will know that they aren’t just any old trees from a craft sale or something, but that they are very special trees, made from a tiny bit of a very special house. 🏠
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