Making furniture from tree branches is actually easier that you may imagine. As long as you have access to branches and a space outside to treat the wood, you can create a matching sets for inside or outside your home. When creating tree branch furniture, you need to decide what kind of tree you would like to use and what is available around you.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Tape measure
- Vehicle with a bed (or open back windows)
- Leather gloves
- Pruning shears
- Hand sander
- Drill with screwdriver bit
- Leather cord
- Wood sealer
- Tree branches
Plan out your design. If you just want a simple chair you would need less wood that for one that was woven or had twisted elements. Make sure to use measurements in the plan to estimate the longest pieces needed.
Collect branches, limbs and trunks from trees that have fallen or you have cut. Be sure to wear leather gloves while collecting to avoid sap and splinters. Some varieties that make good furniture are birch, pine, willow, elm, pecan, box elder, cedar or maple.
Use the tools to remove smaller branches, twigs and leaves from your pieces, taking care not to damage the branch itself. If you wish to remove the bark, use a drawknife to peel the bark off. Then, use a hand sander to make the branches smooth to the touch and remove the chance of splinters.
Pick the pieces from what you collected that will make a sturdy frame. For a basic chair you need two front legs and eight bracing pieces about 12 to 18 inches and two back legs at least twice the length of the front.
Attach one front leg and one back leg with two bracing pieces using nails. Make sure the bottom of the two legs are even, so the chair will set steady and attach one brace about half way up the front leg and the other at the top of the front leg. You can also soak leather cording in water for 12 hours and attach the brace while the cord is still wet. Repeat the same process for the opposite side, making sure to attach the braces to the outside of the legs.
Attach a brace to the front and back sides of the legs, just above the lower braces on the sides. Attach the last two braces level with the other two top bracing pieces. Place a flat board or other flat surface across the top bracing pieces. Check for level on the top bracing pieces from front to back and side to side. This will give you a basic chair frame with a square seat.
Wrap skinny branches that have been soaked in water from one side of the chair back to the other, leaving lots of slack for drying. Attach with nails, screws or leather cording each time the branch reaches one of the side pieces. You can wrap around the outside both end pieces, or wrap over one and under the other to make a design.
Repeat the same pattern for the seat of the chair, or cut thicker branches to fit into the square frame and attach with nails.
Sand and seal the chair as desired.
Tips and warnings
- Soak branches in water for 24 to 48 hours to give maximum flexibility and create curves in the chair.
- Wood collected in the spring will give you the most flexible branches. This is also the best time to remove the bark from the limbs.
- Trees are regularly cut back from the edges of roads and around power poles and over power lines. Ask the people cutting if you could take some branches.
- Be sure to attach leather cording while the leather is still wet, so when the cording dries the and the leather shrinks the knots and joints hold strong.
- To make a rounded back chair, leave the two back leg pieces long with skinny tips. Use the thickest part as the bottom of the leg and bend the tips towards each other, after you put the bracers for the seat in place. Wind around the two tips with leather cord and trim the tips (if desired).
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