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Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks/Question on Repairing An Artificial Christmas Tree


QUESTION: Dear sir:

I have a seasonal question for you. I have an artificial Christmas tree that was manufactured in the late 1960s. It was purchased by my parents before I was born and used as their Christmas tree until I became old enough to believe in Santa and "needed" a real tree, and then used as a second tree upstairs in my house until I *stopped* believing in Santa, when it became the primary tree again. It was eventually replaced by another artificial tree several years ago, and was going to be thrown out, when I rescued it. Much like my grandfather's pocket watch, I keep it more for its sentimental value than anything else.

The tree consists of a two-part wooden core joined in the center by a peg and slot. The holes for the branches are oval holes  drilled at an angle to the core so the slightly curved branch ends can slot into them. Outside of needing a new coat of paint, the tree has been largely maintenance-free for all these years, but there is a problem with the bottom row of branches holes in the top piece of the core. The holes sit directly above the joining, and over the years, the bottom of the oval in the holes have worn out, and the branches in that row began drooping, and in some cases are completely worn out. I've tried fixing it with various fillers, but the area is too thin for the filler to properly support the branches. I've also tried filling the holes completely and re-excavating them, to the same result. I was thinking of trying to nail something solid into the base of the holes or re-drilling that row of holes all-together, but thought it better to seek some more knowledgeable assistance before doing anything to drastic.

Can you provide any solutions?

Thank you in advance.


ANSWER: Sorry about the late reply...without seeing some pictures of this problem, it's difficult to help....can you post a few pics? It sounds like you've tried all the obvious fixes, but you're on the right track. Post back- Greg

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Tree Core
Tree Core  

Not a problem. This isn't exactly a time-sensitive issue, as long as it gets resolved by next December.

Please see the attached. The main issue is that none of the fills that I've used so far have been strong enough to hold the branch without breaking because of the thinness of the remaining material once it is drilled out again, as it sits right above the join with no support.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Please let me know if you need more information.

Minwax makes a 2 part polyester resin filler for wood, "High Performance" wood filler that would  be stronger than the wood itself, but it can be tricky to work with. Once mixed, it's very stickey/gooey to apply, and then it changes to the consistency and density of a good hard cheese before hardening very hard in about 30 minutes. The key is to do 90% of your shaping while it's in this semi hard, second stage, before it gets really hard. I can envision even possibly wrapping wax paper around the branch, inserting it into the mixed filler, maintaining the proper angle, and allowing it to set hard before removing it, leaving a perfectly formed hole...but this could be tricky to pull off if you've never used the stuff. I have done a lot of rebuilding with this stuff, in many capacities and situations, it has very high adhesive qualities, layers well, and cures super hard and strong....but there is a learning curve as to how to handle it...still not sure it will work in your situation as described though. Post back,

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Greg Scholl


Questions on Woodworking, wood finishing and refinishing of all kinds, repairing furniture and wooden objects, Architectural details, Woodturning, carving, tool usage, product usage, some chemistry as it applies to woodworking and related interests,cabinet making and furniture construction/design, etc. I have experience with all manners of colorants, finishes, paints, stains, dyes, glazes, and coatings, wood species recognition and usage,tool recommendations, blade types and recommendation,techniques and methods for many Woodworking related issues, etc.


Fine furniture restorer and cabinet maker for over 30 years,serving high end Antique dealers, Interior designers, Collectors in the CT area. Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.) Sold, built, serviced, setup Home, Industrial, and Commercial stationary woodworking tools for a major tool retailer in CT. for three years, sold hand and power tools , provided knowledge, parts replacement, service, and on site service, Trade show Demo, and training as well.

Published in Fine Woodworking Magazine (12/97), included on Fine Woodworkings first "Best of Fine Woodworking" CD-ROM (2002) ...("27 year compilation of expert know-how")

Art School at Silvermine Guild in Norwalk, CT., 9 year apprenticeship in a European run Cabinet and Restoration shop in CT., various classes on subjects having to do with the field. Seminars from major Tool manufacturers, Skil/Bosch, Delta, Powermatic, Ritter, Porter cable, Milwaukee, Dewalt/B&Decker, Performax.

Past/Present Clients
Many varied clients including work on Martha Stewarts' Westport, CT. show house, many fine Antique dealers and private collectors in and around Fairfield County and in Woodbury, CT. (the Antiques capital of CT.), Golden Age of Trucking Museum,Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.), local Museums and Historical Societies. For the last two years I have been employed with Schwenke Auctioneers Inc.- Woodbury Auction LLC., as a staff photographer,IT tech,and doing restoration and repair work as well.

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