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Large Shim Star

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Build a supersize star that will become the highlight of your indoor or outdoor Christmas decorating. Our step-by-step instructions make it simple.

Large shim star hanging on the side of a house

Project Overview

Skill Level

Intermediate

Estimated Time

1 weekend

Estimated Cost

$$$$$

Tools & Materials

Tools

  • Straightedge
  • Circle compass
  • Measuring tape
  • Jigsaw
  • Drill and 1/8-in bit
  • Screwdriver or bit
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • Titebond III exterior wood glue

Materials

  • 19/32 x 4 x 8 pine sheathing plywood, #12242
  • 16 - 1-3/8 x 7-7/8 wood shims, packs of 14, #3969
  • 2 - 1 x 4 x 72 radiata pine board, #1154
  • #8 x 1-1/4-in wood screws
  • 2 - 1-3/8-in large screw eyes
  • Loctite Power Grab clear construction adhesive, #185445
  • Cabot satin spar varnish, quart (or optional paint)

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

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Instructions

Cut the Star and Braces

Step 1

From the 4 x 8 sheet of plywood, cut a 48-inch square. If you don’t have a saw to do this, ask a Lowe’s associate to cut the full sheet in half.

Step 2

Divide boards into triangles
Draw a diagonal line between the corners on opposite ends of each board.

From the 1 x 4 pine boards, cut three pieces 22 inches long. Draw a diagonal line between opposite corners, and use a jigsaw to cut the boards into two triangles. (You’ll end up with one extra.) Sand the cut edges smooth and straight.

Step 3

Download the shim star backer layout guide. Follow the illustrations to draw a centered 48-inch-diameter circle in the square, mark the five points of the star 23-7/8 inches apart, and draw lines between the points. Then cut out the shape of the star.

Good to Know

If you don’t have a compass that can draw a 48-inch-diameter circle, make one using a nail, yardstick, and pencil. Use tape to secure the nail at the 1-inch mark on the yardstick. (Glue it in place if you don’t need the yardstick for other uses.) Then tape a pencil at the 25-inch mark and confirm the 24-inch separation with a tape measure.

Step 4

Drill pilot holes through the star
Drill carefully to make straight holes centered on the line

Draw a 24-inch-long line from each tip to near the center of the star. Then mark the lines at 2 inches, 8 inches, 15 inches, and 22 inches from the tips. At the 8-inch, 15-inch, and 22-inch marks on each of the five lines, drill a 1/8-inch pilot hole.

Assemble the Star

Step 1

Apply glue along the pencil lines
When laying beads of glue, avoid getting any in the pilot holes.

Apply a bead of glue to one of the lines and tape a support triangle in place with the factory edge against the plywood and the narrow tip on the 2-inch mark. After the glue dries, drill through the pilot hole and into the support. Then reinforce the joint with 1-1/4-inch wood screws. Repeat for the remaining supports.

Step 2

Metallic-look shim star
Spray-paint shims with metallic finishes before adding them to the base and supports.

After the supports are in place, either prime and paint the reinforced plywood star or apply three coats of clear satin spar varnish. Do the same for each of the shims, coating both sides. For a star with a metallic look, spray-paint the shims silver, gold, copper, or a combination of finishes and let dry.

Step 3

Apply adhesive to a shim
If a bead of adhesive is slightly out of position, you can rub the shim against the star or braces to spread it to the right places.

Before adding adhesive to the first shim, hold it where you want on the star and visualize where the adhesive needs to go. Apply glue only where the shim touches the plywood or triangular supports and press it in place.

Step 4

Begin adding shims to the star
Some shims need to be held in place until the tack in the adhesive takes over.

Dab construction adhesive on the backs of shims and use them to link the supports to the plywood star edges and the center. Space them in randomly oriented V-shapes, but without any gaps wider than the length of a shim. Press and hold each shim against the star and braces for good wood-to-wood contact. It’s okay if the end of the shim overlaps the edges of the plywood, but minimize any overhang on the triangular supports. Let the adhesive cure for an hour before attaching the next layer of shims.

Good to Know

For this application, construction adhesive beats wood glue for three reasons. Wood glue loses holding power when used on wood covered with paint or varnish, such as the plywood backing. Construction adhesive goes on tackier so you don’t need to hold each shim in position for nearly as long. And adhesive fills gaps between the wood pieces better than wood glue, which needs solid wood-to-wood contact.

Step 5

Add shims to fill gaps in the layout
With the first group of shims in place, you can add more shims to fill gaps left by the first layer.

Add shims to fill in the gaps from the first layer. If you need a third layer, allow the adhesive on the second layer to dry before attaching more shims.

Step 6

If you plan to hang the star, decide which tip will be at the top. On the two tips flanking the top one, drill centered pilot holes about 12 inches from the tips. Drive two 1-3/8-inch screw eyes to use as hangers. Because of the size and weight of the star, make certain any hooks or nails used to hang it are well anchored on a wall.