diy project: magnetic mini forest


Is this the one-millionth time I’ve mentioned my love of small things? Sorry folks! I can’t seem to help myself. It’s an obsession that has persisted since my youth, and I can’t seem to shake it. Luckily, the holiday season is the perfect time to revel in a the whimsy of miniatures. With that in mind, I decided to make a quick and easy DIY gift idea that appeals to everyone’s inner child: magnetic mini trees.

Sure, these can be a cute update to your standard fridge magnets. But I like to think of them as fun, moveable mini installations. Stick them to bikes, lamps or chair legs; surprise your loved one with a mini forest on his or her desk; or simply toss a bunch of these trees into a pretty muslin bag and let your gift recipient decide where to stick them. I chose to make mine green + gold, but the color combos are endless; I can picture a beautiful set of all-black or all-white trees, or you could go au naturel with unstained wood and brown kraft paper. I hope you have as much fun with these little guys as I did. Happy crafting! — Kate

Read the full how-to after the jump!

Materials:

  • wooden dowels of varying diameters (I used 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″)
  • paint or wood stain for tree trunks
  • small paintbrush
  • drill
  • 1/64″ and 1/4″ drill bits
  • miter box with saw
  • sandpaper
  • mighty magnet dots
  • colored paper
  • gold foil tape (optional)
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun
  • super glue

Instructions:

1. Cut dowels to varying lengths using the miter box and saw. My trees are between 1.5″ and 4.5″ long.

2. Sand the rough edges to remove any loose wood bits or splinters. Paint or stain dowels and allow to dry completely.

Note: The next couple steps are for making the magnets inset, so they sit flush with the base, and they require a bit of precision and drill work. If you don’t have a drill or don’t feel like doing this process, you can simply glue the mighty magnets to the base with a dot of super glue, then skip to step 7. Just be aware that the magnets will not be flush in this case.

3. Use a small nail to make a dot in the center of the base of one of your painted dowels. Press the tip of your 1/64″ drill bit into this mark and slowly drill about 1/8″ into the base of the dowel, keeping the drill bit as close to centered as possible.

4. Remove the 1/64″ drill bit and replace with the 1/4″ drill bit. Carefully drill into the hole you already made with the smaller bit, just until you’ve widened the hole to the size of the bigger drill bit. Place a mighty magnet over the hole to check the fit.

5. Once the hole is just wide and deep enough to fit the magnet, put a small dab of super glue into the hole and push a mighty magnet into the hole. Tamp the base down on a table to press the magnet into place, so it lies flush with the base.

6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until all of your dowels have magnets secured within their bases.

7. Cut a strip of paper 1.5″ wide and 8″ long. Cut the strip crosswise into smaller pieces that are all 1.5″ wide and between 1.5″ and .5″ long.

Note: To make the gold/green paper, I put gold foil tape in rows on one side of a sheet of green paper. Then cut the strips as you would in the steps 7-9:

8. Take each piece and cut slits lengthwise in the piece, leaving at least 1/8″ uncut at the top. Repeat with all pieces.

9. Use your scissors to curl the paper slits outward. Repeat with each piece until they all resemble eyelashes.

10. Starting about one-third of the way up from the base of the dowel, wrap the longest piece around the dowel. Put a little dab of hot glue on the loose end and press down to secure the piece to the dowel.

11. Repeat with the other pieces, going from longest to shortest, layering one over the other and overlapping each piece just a bit. Make the top of the last piece sits flush with the top of the dowel.

12. Cut a small circle the diameter of the dowel and glue to the top of the dowel with a dab of hot glue. You can adjust the curled strips as you desire to make the tree foliage curlier, fatter, longer, etc.

13. Repeat steps 7 through 12 with the remaining dowels.

YOU’RE DONE! Place your mini magnetic trees anywhere they will stick, or toss them in a gift bag for a fun little gift.

 

 

  1. erica says:

    So clever!

  2. kelly says:

    LOVE THIS- I am going to make some for a Christmas gathering and ornament exchange!! What a fun and fantastic idea…

    Wondering where to buy the mini magnets?? Would a hardware store sell them?

    Also wondering if you’ve attempted making snow globes?

  3. Ryan says:

    The mighty magnet dots linked in the material list are really overpriced (16/$15+shipping). I would look for plain 1/4″ diameter cylinder neodymium magnets instead. There are a number of magnet shops online, and these usually sell for about 50 cents apiece at the most.

    1. Kate Pruitt says:

      Thanks for the tip Ryan! I will definitely be using those neodymium magnets for future projects, and will direct readers to them as well.

  4. Lisa Belt says:

    Holy cow these are cute! Pinning away!

  5. Danielle says:

    Eeks! They’re soo cute!

  6. Ryan’s right. Check amazon–you can get 100 rare earth magnets for about $10.

    Great diy. Totally making these. I have an old atlas. Going to use that to make icy blue and green trees.

  7. tami says:

    My only suggestion is use a real branch!

  8. SuzyMcQ says:

    For those who don’t own a power drill or are intimidated by the “power” aspect, I think using a hand drill would work just as well. If you have a vise or can rig something up that performs the same task I think it would make the drilling much easier.

  9. jerry says:

    Digikey.com sells those little magnets too. really cheap!

  10. LIng says:

    How cute is it! I think i’m gonna do this and sick it on my co-workers cars as a xmas surprise

  11. Erin says:

    These are SO cute. I just don’t know where they’d stick in my house other than the fridge…old house=much more wood than metal :(

  12. aurora says:

    Crate and Barrel Outlet in Berkeley has those mighty magnet dots for pretty cheap.

  13. these are so fun…and my toddler would love them…but he would also take them apart. but they are still really cute! :)

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