Woodworking Project: Traditional Holiday Wreath

christmas wreath woodworking project

I spend a lot of my spare time in my basement woodshop making furniture or fixing something around the house. However, when the opportunity came up to make a wreath for DIY, I had to switch mental gears a little bit. (Read: Get out of my element.) I thought a lot about what a wreath is, what it symbolizes, and how to translate those ideas into something tangible. This flower-like wreath is loosely inspired by a poinsettia with variegated leaves and an inner circle of red.


3 (2 x 1/4 x 48) inch poplar boards
8 x 8 x 1/2 plywood
2 shades of green paint (or colors of your choice)
1 shade of red paint (or color of your choice)
brad nails (1/2 to 3/4 inch)
1 eye hook
Sand paper (100, 150, and 220 grits)
Mineral Spirits or water and rag
Wood putty

Saw (I used a mitre saw, but a table saw, jig saw, or hand saw would also work)
Belt sander
Tack hammer
Drill Press or handheld drill
Circle cutter
Drill bit (1/32)
Paint brush
Router and table
Flush trim bit (with bearing)
Nail set

wooden pieces for making leaves on wreath

Making the Leaves
1.     Cut the poplar boards to the desired length. I cut mine into 20 (6-inch) lengths.
2.     From one piece of scrap, create a template for the shape.
3.     Use the template to transfer the shape onto each piece of board with a pencil (as shown in the picture above, right).
4.     Use a saw (or, I used a carving knife) to get rid of a majority of the waste from each piece.
5.     Clean up each piece with a belt sander.
6.     Sand each piece smooth using up to 220 grit sandpaper. (I also like to knock of the hard edges off the board while sanding, but this is not necessary.)
8.     Apply a couple coats of paint on each leaf piece. I used 2 shades of green (10 of each color).
9.    Once the paint dries, pre-drill  2 pilot holes 1/2 inch from the end and sides of each leaf piece. This will help prevent splitting the wood during assembly.

Tip: For even smoother results, very lightly mist the pieces with water, or clean with mineral spirits, after the first sanding (step 5) to “raise the grain.” Let the pieces dry and do a final sanding (step 6).

cutting circle for christmas wreath

Making the Ring
1.     Using a circle cutter and a drill, make a ring out of the 1/2 inch plywood (as shown above). The outside of my circle is 3.5-inch radius (7-inch diameter), and the inside is about 2.5-inch radius (5-inch diameter).
2.     Sand the plywood smooth using 100, 150 and 220 grit sandpaper. Clean with a rag and a little mineral spirits to remove the dust.
3.     Using a pencil, mark the circle every 36 degrees. I made a paper template that I could set my ring on for accurate marking. These marks are where the corners of the fingers will be positioned.

Note: There are many ways to make rings in the woodshop. This is just one method.

process shots for wreath assembly

1.     On the ring, position the first leaf with the corners on 2 of the pencil marks.
2.     Nail the first leaf to the ring.
3.     Continue attaching the leaves around the ring until one complete circle is made (shown in the top right photo above).
4.     Arrange the next row of leaves on top of the first.
5.     Nail the first leaf of the second row to the ring through the first row of leaves.
6.     Continue attaching the leaves around the ring until the second row is complete.
7.     Set the nails below the surface of the board with a nail set.
8.     Fill the nail holes with wood filler. When dry, sand smooth.
9.     Using a flush trim bit on the router and the base ring as a guide, rout the inside edges of the leaves flush with inside of the ring (as shown in the bottom right photo above).
10.  Clean up with sandpaper.
11.  Paint the inside of the wreath red (or color of your choice).
12.  Attach the eyehook on the top edge of the ring for hanging. You could also add a piece of string or ribbon for hanging.
13.  Attach a bow to the wreath if you like.


7 Unique Ways to Wrap Gifts
Create a Rustic Chic Christmas Look
Gift Wrapping 101
Homemade Gift Tags
PLUS: See how to make more creative DIY wreaths! This wreath project is a contestant in DIY Network’s “Great Wreath Rivalry” on Pinterest. Pin a wreath and you could win one of five $100 Visa gift cards!

9 Responses

  1. Dave F says:

    Great techniques and ideas to learn

  2. URL says:

    … [Trackback]…

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  3. Mike says:

    very imaginative! Should last many years.

  4. Robert S says:

    Looks Good!

  5. This is one of the best looking wreaths.

  6. Jenise says:

    Vibrant and beautiful! Just the right combination of colors to make any door or space pop!

  7. Pat says:

    Looks Great!

  8. Annette says:

    Very nice job, would use fo long time!

  9. samuel says:

    This wreath looks good at any time of year.


About Dan Lipe 


I’m a Senior Interaction Designer, focused on creating compelling and intuitive user experiences. During my 15+ years in the design field, I’ve worked in print, corporate identity and digital media ...

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