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How To: Make Tree Branch Napkin Rings

by on Nov 16, 2010

This year, I wanted to bring some natural, but still contemporary, elements to my Thanksgiving table. I figured out how to create these adorable little place card holders from a small fallen branch, and I wanted something else round and wooden to coordinate. Coasters? No, not necessary. Wine glass charm indicators? Not quite. Serving utensils? Cool, but time consuming. And then…of course! Napkin rings. They’re round, and just the right size. I went searching for a 2″ fallen limb, and once locating one, whipped up twelve of these in under an hour.

Materials and Tools

  • Found tree branch, 2″ – 2 1/2″ in diameter
  • Stiff wire or nylon brush
  • Electric drill and Forstner bit, 1 3/8″ – 1 3/4″, depending on the size of your branch
  • Saw
  • Vise or clamps and stable surface
  • Fine grit sandpaper

1. Look for a fallen tree branch or limb that’s at least 2″ in diameter. Look for one that’s relatively dry and has a pleasing bark appearance. I chose one that wasn’t perfectly round, knowing that I could drill the hole off-center for some visual interest. You can also buy seasoned (dried) branches at many nurseries and garden stores.

created at: 11/16/2010

2. Use a stiff brush to clean off any lichen or moss from the bark, and wipe clean.

created at: 11/16/2010

3. Tightly secure the branch in a vice or clamp to a stable surface. Use a small drill bit to create small hole at the center of the tree’s growth pattern, which should be an easy-to-find dark spot at the center of the growth rings. Use an appropriately sized Forstner bit to drill out a 1 1/2″ hole in the center of the limb, leaving 1/2″ or so around all sides. 


created at: 11/16/2010

4. Keeping the limb secure, slice off a 1 1/4″  – 1 1/2″ round, being sure that your hole goes all the way through. Drilling the limb before cutting prevents the possibility of the vibrations cracking the wood.

created at: 11/16/2010

5. Lastly, use some fine grit sandpaper to smooth the cut surfaces, and to round over the inside and outside edges of the napkin ring. I provided some finishing ideas in the place card stand post, but my vote is to simply keep everything natural.

Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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