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How to make a tree out of cardboard

Updated February 21, 2017

Making a tree out of cardboard is a fun, easy and versatile project. Once built, they can be decorated with paint, stickers or family pictures. And these trees are three-dimensional, so they stand on their own without support. Make them a few inches tall to use as centrepieces for a dinner party, or make them 6 feet tall and turn your living room into a jungle for your kid's next sleepover. The possibilities are endless. And, whatever you use them for, you'll find that making them quickly becomes addictive.

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  1. Decide on your design. If you are not artistically inclined, consider downloading and printing a picture of a tree. Or, draw your tree freehand on a sheet of paper. To help your tree "grow" straight, fold the paper in half vertically before you start and then use the fold as a guide.

  2. Cut out your tree with scissors to make a stencil.

  3. Use the stencil and trace the tree onto the cardboard. Make sure the tree's base is flush with the bottom of the cardboard.

  4. Find the line of symmetry. The best way to do this is to measure the width of the base of the tree and divide that number in half. Use this measure to find the exact centre in each of your drawings. Use a metal ruler or straightedge to draw the line of symmetry from the top to the base of each tree.

  5. Measure the thickness of the cardboard in millimetres. Write that measurement down and add 1 millimetre. Now, divide your total by 2. For example, if your cardboard is 3mm thick, add 1mm to make 4mm and divide by 2 to get 2mm.

  6. Measure the distance from Step 5 from the line of symmetry to the right and to the left and mark both. Use those marks and the straightedge to create the two parallel lines that run from the top to the base of the tree.

  7. Cut the tree out of the cardboard using the box cutter.

  8. Find the midpoint of the line of symmetry on both drawings. Measure the length of the line of symmetry and divide that in half. Then measure again, from the bottom, using the half-measure. This is the line of symmetry's midpoint. Mark it with your pencil by making a perpendicular line across all three lines of symmetry.

  9. Take the first cardboard tree and cut along the parallel lines from Step 6 from the bottom up to the midpoint. Remove the small strip by cutting along the perpendicular line you made in Step 8. Take the second tree and cut along the parallel lines from the top to the midpoint and remove the small strip by cutting across the perpendicular line you made in Step 8.

  10. Slide the tree with the bottom cut on top of the tree with the top cut so they sit at 90 degree angles to one another.

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Things You'll Need

  • 2 pieces of cardboard
  • Box cutter
  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Metal ruler

About the Author

Based in Houston, Texas, Meg Butler is a professional farmer, house flipper and landscaper. When not busy learning about homes and appliances she's sharing that knowledge. Butler began blogging, editing and writing in 2000. Her work has appered in the "Houston Press" and several other publications. She has an A.A. in journalism and a B.A. in history from New York University.

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