How To: Make Super Simple Tree Branch Magnets

Last summer, in the midst of the August showers, a neighboring building lost a beautiful maple tree in a major thunderstorm. It was quickly disassembled by the electric company, presumably so it wouldn't fall onto the power lines. And there it sat. For weeks.

Then, a month or so later, I heard a loud grind out of my open windows (horray for open window weather!), and spied a big truck with a wood chipper in their yard.

“Surely,” I thought, “they're just gonna grind up the small stuff and use the trunk for something.” But, they just kept throwing in big, beautiful chunks of pure hardwood, turning it into mulch. I immediately rushed out and asked if I could have what hadn't been chopped.

The guy was very hesitant (apparently no one had ever proposed such a crazy thing), but allowed me to escape with an armful straight limbs and branches (sadly, no trunk segments) as long as I promised not to tell anyone. So, don't repeat that.

My branches have been seasoning and drying all fall and winter, and are now ready to be turned into all kinds of fun “bring the outdoors in” projects. First up, these playful tree branch magnets which cost a mere $1.00 and some glue to make, and can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes.  

created at: 05/11/2011

Materials and Tools:

  • Fallen tree branch, 1-2″ in diameter
  • Strong magnets: Mine were 8mm x 3mm, 2000 gauss [6 for $1.00!]
  • Electric drill and bits
  • Saw: pull saw, hacksaw, miter box; anything will work
  • Two-part epoxy, like JB Weld, or super strong glue

created at: 05/11/2011

1. Use the saw to cut off 1 – 1 1/2″ medallions from your branch. If necessary, use a bit of sandpaper to clean things up.

created at: 05/11/2011

2. Use a drill to clear a little hole for your magnets to sit. If using the 8x3mm that I have, use a 5/16″ (or 13/32″ if you have one) to drill a hole 1/8″ into the branch. Use a piece of painters tape to mark your depth. Note: Obviously you'll want to hold your wood still when drilling. I needed a hand to snap the photo!

created at: 05/11/2011

3. Then, just mix up the epoxy and glue them in. You might be able to use a strong glue like E6000, but my go-to for metal to wood applications is JBWeld. You'll need a glue strong enough to stand up to the magnetic force. I doubt hot glue would work, but you could try it if using weaker, ceramic magnets.

Be sure you check the polarity of your magnets before gluing them in. It's nice when they all sit the same way, so that your branches will stack and not repel each other.

4. Simply allow the epoxy to dry for at least 6 hours or overnight, and stick them up!