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Drum up some holiday cheer with this DIY Christmas tree stand. Featuring a clever drum design, it stabilizes trees up to 12' tall and can be built in two weekends.
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Lay out a 16" grid on a sheet of 1/2" plywood and draw 45-degree lines to form Xs on the sheet and locate the center points (Cutting Diagram). The lines that are now every 45 degrees will be used for referencing the alignment of the risers and ribs in later steps.
Draw a circle with a 15" radius from each of the three center points. The first circle will create the base A (Photo 1). Draw circles with radii of 12" and 12-1/2" at the second center point. This second circle will form the platform B and the drum arcs F. At the third center point, draw 2 circles with a 4" radius for the tree as shown; connect the sides of the circles to form an elongated slot. This third circle will form the back drum top D and the front drum top E.
Drill a 1/4"-diameter hole at the three center points, and drill a 1/2" hole for jigsaw blade clearance between the circles with the 12 and 12-1/2" radii. Using a jigsaw, cut the plywood into three blanks to make cutting the circles easier. Now cut an access notch up to the edge of each of the 15"-radius circles with a jigsaw.
To help you get smooth circles, cut a 7" x 18" blank from the sheet containing center point 1 for a trammel. (A trammel is a platform to which you can attach a jigsaw or router for evenly trimming circles.) Lay out and draw the jigsaw centerline and the radius line, and then drill the 1/4" and 1/2" holes in the trammel (Drawing 1, Trammel). Using double-faced tape, secure the jigsaw to the trammel. Align the center of the blade with the jigsaw line and the front edge of the blade touching the radius line.
Place a 1/4" x 1" carriage bolt through the 15"-radius hole and place the trammel and saw at the first center point, slipping the blade of the saw into the access notch you cut earlier. Take your time and move the saw around the circle slowly. (Pushing the saw too fast will cause the blade to flex outward; choose a blade with 10 to 12 teeth per inch.) Repeat for the other two center points, switch the carriage bolt to the 12-1/2" circle, and cut the ring that will form the drum arcs. Use the 1/2" hole you drilled between the two circles as a starting point for the jigsaw blade. Complete the use of the trammel by switching to the 12" radius and cutting the platform to size (Photo 2).
Transfer the 45-degree reference lines on the face of the plywood down the outside edge of the circles using a square. Now cut the circles that form the front and back drum tops and the drum arcs in half by cutting the blanks with a jigsaw.
Place the platform B on the base A and insert the carriage bolt to center the platform on the base; align the reference marks and trace the circumference of the platform on the base. Lay out the screws for attaching the base and platform to the risers (Drawing 2, Base Top View). Drill countersunk pilot holes at each layout point (Photo 3), flip the base over, and countersink the pilot holes on the bottom face of the base.
Measure the height of your tree stand. From 16" (the finished height of your drum), subtract the height of your tree stand and an additional 1-3/4". Our measurements were as follows: 16" - 7-3/4" - 1-3/4" = 6-1/2" riser height. Each base will create a different riser length. Cut the risers to length and draw a line down the center of the edge of each riser.
Place the platform on several of the risers. Working each riser individually, align the edge of the riser with the edge of the base, aligning the centerlines drawn on the riser with the reference lines on the platform (Photo 4). Extend the pilot holes into the risers using the holes in the platform as a guide, remove the riser, add glue to the top of the riser, and secure the riser with glue and screws (Drawing 3, Base). Repeat for the remaining risers.
With the risers secured, flip the platform/riser assembly upside down and place the base on the risers. Align the center marks and the perimeter of the platform you traced earlier. Drill pilot holes, add glue, and secure the base to the risers (Photo 5).
Cut the openings for the tree in the front and back drum tops D and E, and cut the ribs G to length. Draw a centerline down the edges of the ribs as you did with the risers.
Stack one arc on one of the drum tops with the edges aligned. As you did with the base assembly, lay out the screw locations and drill countersunk pilot holes through both parts (Drawing 4, Drum Tops). Remove the arc, flip the top over, and countersink the pilot holes. Repeat for the second arc and drum top.
Secure the ribs to the drum arc and drum top (Photo 6) -- place the ribs, align the center marks on the ribs with those on the drum arc flush with the edge of the ribs/tops, and secure with glue and screws (Drawing 5, Drum Halves). Repeat for the other half.
Place the assembled back drum half in position on the base assembly with the edges of the circles flush. Align the reference lines and drill four 1/4" holes through the drum arc and the base (Photo 7). (You'll use these holes later for mounting the drum on the base.) By drilling through both pieces at one time, the holes will be aligned perfectly. The holes should be roughly centered between the ribs.
Cut a piece of 1/8" hardboard into six pieces (two wide strips for the skins H and four narrow strips for the bands I). Sand the hardboard parts and the tops and edges of the drum assemblies. Cut three 16"-long scraps for clamping the skins in place. The skins will be a little longer than needed, and you'll trim them to fit after you secure them to the drum.
With an assembled drum half resting on your workbench, apply adhesive to one end of the skin and set in place, flush with the first rib. Attach the first clamping block using screws to hold the end in position (Drawing 6, Drum Skins) (Photo 8), screwing through the clamping block that you'll remove later, the skin, and into the first rib. Locate the screws 1-1/2" from the top and bottom (the screw holes will be covered by the bands later).
Attach the second clamping bock and apply adhesive to the remaining ribs and along the curved surfaces of the drum top and arc; bend the skin around the form and temporarily clamp the skin in position.
Run ratchet straps around the drum half and begin to tighten them; remove the clamps and tighten the skins around the form with the straps (Photo 9). When the skin is pulled down to the form, add the third clamping block, securing to the drum with screws. These blocks will allow the skin to pull tight across the ribs at each side of the drum and allow any overhang of the skin to slip past for trimming later. Allow the adhesive to cure overnight. Repeat for the second drum half.
Use a jigsaw to trim the skin flush to the drum. Glue and clamp the bands in position at the top and bottom of the drum halves (Photo 10); allow the adhesive to cure and trim the ends flush (Photo 11).
Finish-sand the parts and clean up any glue that has seeped from the skinning of the drum halves with 220-grit sandpaper.
Apply a primer to the tops and sides of the drum halves and around the perimeter of the base. Lightly sand the primer and wipe with a tack cloth.
Mask off the bands and apply 2 coats of red paint to the body of the drum halves. When the red has dried, remove the painter's tape. Now mask off the red and paint the top, bands, and the perimeter of the base with two coats of white paint (Photo 12). We chose gloss enamel for a durable -- and great-looking -- finish.
With the painting completed, it's time to put the two completed drum halves together and install the sash locks (Drawing 7, Drum Assembly).
Glue 1"-long dowel pins into the four holes in the base assembly. (We used the pins to secure the back half of the drum to the base. To ease the installation of the back drum half, we used a 5/16" drill bit to slightly enlarge the holes in the bottom of the drum half.)
Now for the string. Drive screws with trim washers into each rib around the drum halves. You'll be able to mark the location of the ribs on the skin by using a square and marking down from the screws that secure the tops and arcs to the ribs. Place the screws 3/4" down from the top band and 3/4" up from the bottom band.
Back the screws out about 1/4" so you can wind some 1/8" nylon cord around the first screw. Tighten the screw, and then work your way around the drum halves to create a zigzag pattern (Photo 13). Tighten the screws when you're done pulling the string. Use a utility knife with a fresh blade to trim the extra string at the ends.
Secure your tree stand to the base platform. We needed just a few panhead screws, but your stand may need more.
Place the base assembly in the tree's room location and insert the tree into the stand.
Set the rear drum half over the dowel pins and then slip the front half into position, engaging the sash locks.
It's now time to enjoy the holiday season. The front drum top has the longer opening to make watering the tree easier. You may need to trim the top opening in your drum to accommodate watering.