Lighted String Christmas Tree

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Project by Mosquito posted 12-23-2014 05:19 AM 1702 views 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This all started with a simple board, some nails, and some green twine on something my wife found on Pinterest…

Then, we were out shopping for other stuff, and found some little battery powered “charm” lights, in the shape of little light bulbs. “Hey, think we could use these with that string Christmas tree idea?” Sure, why not…

So that’s what we did. Then, “Hey, can we back light it too?” Sure, why not…

Oh, I did manage to get her in the shop to help me (basically, I showed, helped coach, and let her do a bulk of the work). It was done completely with hand tools; only the soldering iron (and the LEDs) killed any electrons.

Note: What follows will be long, with quite a few pictures. It’s my “project log” with a somewhat step-by-step of how we made it.
First, we drew out some lines to roughly follow. We made some holes with an awl for where we’d put some of the nails (we used the largest carpet tacks we could find, for their ‘rustic’ look)

I used the marking knife around the piece, and used a chisel on the top to make a ‘knife wall’ for her to use. I showed her how to use a backsaw for wider boards, because I thought it would be easier for her to keep it on the line than a panel saw. She did great.

I did about 2/3 of the planing, on the far side (“I have short arms, I can’t reach that side, can you do it?”), and she did the rest towards the front. This was to remove our reference lines, leaving only the awl holes we made (and colored in with pencil)

I started out by tracing the battery box, and then using a straight edge and my marking knife and chisel to start the recess for the battery box. My wife helped with some of the chisel work too

Used the router plane to clean it up to depth (I ended up chopping a good amount of the waste out with a chisel before this step)

The battery box had to be recessed, as we made some little pieces to add screws to for hanging it on the wall. The battery box fits snugly, and you can still access the switch, and get the battery cover off with out taking it out of the recess.

I made a little “trunk” to hide the wire for the lights, as it came through to the front. There’s a hole drilled in the pine board, and then I ripped this small scrap, and chopped out a stopped groove for the wire to run through.

We did the same recess for an A23 battery holder, to power the LED strips on the back. This time, she tried her hand at mortising techniques.

Then it was time to start pounding in some carpet tacks.

I was given a hard time, because my line (bottom) was “too perfect”. So we had to bend a few out of straight to make it match up with her two rows better… I was told we were going for “rustic”.

Then it was time to string the lights. The lights were fed through the hole and channel in the trunk piece, then wound around the various nails.

Now it’s time to wind the string… I sat this part out.


I had to wait for all the parts to show up to make the circuit to power the LED strips on the back. It’s just an A23 battery holder, and a switch. I got it all soldered up and stuck to the back of it.

And the test run was successful

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

10 comments so far

View Ken90712's profile


17614 posts in 3425 days

#1 posted 12-23-2014 09:04 AM

Very interesting and creative, Well done, looks like a fun project.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Gianni's profile


232 posts in 2210 days

#2 posted 12-23-2014 10:55 AM

Very cool, thanks for sharing.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19043 posts in 2804 days

#3 posted 12-23-2014 12:25 PM

that should make xmas a little brighter.

Happy Holidays!

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View terryR's profile


7462 posts in 2545 days

#4 posted 12-23-2014 01:39 PM

Very nice, Mos.
Great to build stuff together with the wife!

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View Mosquito's profile


9564 posts in 2529 days

#5 posted 12-23-2014 03:32 PM

Thanks guys! It was kind of nice to take a back seat on this one. Cool to see the wife take an interest in it.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View bondogaposis's profile


5150 posts in 2588 days

#6 posted 12-23-2014 06:19 PM

Nice, Mos, Merry Christmas.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Mosquito's profile


9564 posts in 2529 days

#7 posted 12-23-2014 07:47 PM

Thanks Bondo, you too!

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View Brit's profile


7599 posts in 3079 days

#8 posted 12-24-2014 07:46 AM

Great to see you guys in the shop together. Looks like fun. The green LED backlighting really set it off. I’ll have to ensure my wife doesn’t see this.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View AnthonyReed's profile


10081 posts in 2677 days

#9 posted 12-30-2014 03:07 PM

Pretty cool Mos.

Fun to see the collaboration.


-- ~Tony

View Mosquito's profile


9564 posts in 2529 days

#10 posted 12-30-2014 03:13 PM

Thanks guys! The in-laws and my family both thought it was pretty cool.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

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