During our offseason of our Christmas tree farm we normally are busy with other projects. There is never really an off season for us, but we chose that lifestyle.
This weekend I started the prep of wooden ornaments. We sold them this past year and they were a hit but we wanted to make them a bit more fancy if you will. Maybe some paint and some different designs. This takes time for sure but minimal costs for us. Here are some we sold last year.
To start we take the trunks of Christmas trees and cut slices off at the end of the season. If there are any trees we used for wreaths then we will also save a few of those and do all the cutting at once. Since I need at least 2 inches round pieces you can only use the bottom few feet of the trees.
Here’s a video of how we prepared and decorated these slices last year:
Once a section is cut I then cut all the limbs off with loppers trying to get as close to the trunk as possible. If there are some small little branches at the end I may even use clippers. The last prep is to take a hatchet and get any large knots or stubs left from large branches. This helps to make the cuts smooth and easier.
I set up the miter saw and made sure the cut was only going to be about a 1/4 inch thick by using a block to hold the tree trunk up against when cutting. I had to turn the trunk sometimes to make sure the trunk was flush with the block so the ornaments are not sloped. Out of 4 small trunks I have about 2 grocery bags full of wood slices. Oh and it smells amazing!
Once cut you have to let them dry out. This is when you spread them out in an area where they can sit for several months. No joke it takes awhile! We use an old baby gate to help with this process and other gate like options we have around the house. Check every few weeks and see how they are doing.
Once the slices are dried, we drill a hole in the top where we think the top of the ornament would be. We have a drill press to make this easy then the sanding begins. I will say try and do each step once, as it keeps your work area more organized and cleaner. We did sand last years ornaments at least 2 times. With painting you definitely need to sand at least 2 times to make sure the slice is pretty smooth.
We saw another tree farm show us how they painted their wood slices and wanted to give it a go. Thanks Schrader Tree Farm for showing us how to do this!
Here’s Schrader Tree Farm’s how-to video for the snowman design:
Last year we just stamped the ornaments. While good, we wanted to just ramp it up a bit. I got some acrylic paint we had in the art closet and bought some paint pens to help with the details. Oh they are fun and I am so not very good at painting so it made it pretty easy.
Wood can destroy the paint pens so I wanted to paint the background to add a smooth layer for the pens. I picked 2 different designs to paint that are fairly easy. Snowmen were my favorite and easiest verses the string of lights. The snowmen may take a few more background steps for it to dry before the picture can take shape. Today was a practice run before we have all those cut ornaments dried out and sanded.
Once we have the wooden pieces prepped we can set up an assembly line for painting. Some green backgrounds for the lights, some with white and snowmen shape. Second round will be blue for the snowmen slices. Then the details start to take shape. Draw your curly string for the lights, and start to have the snowmen take shape with a black pen. I had one that was a fine tip but it stopped working and bled on one of the string lights slices so I just used another small tip black pen. As you pick up a color, do everything you can with that color and then go to the next. We did this with stamping and it truly helps the process be speedy.
The finished project. I think it turned out pretty well and excited to see what we can do with all the slices. Maybe find one more design to do. We will start the sanding in a few months and then painting over the summer when it’s too hot to be working in the fields. Check us out on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for fun around the tree farm. We have some exciting activities this year.