DIY heart ornament from a branch: a handmade gift that shows you care

A great DIY gift for your mother, your Valentine, or whoever needs to know you care. Our guide makes this charming project easy to complete.

A finished DIY heart ornament made from a branch and painted white, with a lit candle inside

DIY Branch heart ornament: handmade means given with love

A homemade gift is a special gesture which is sure to bring joy, whether it marks Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or another occasion. With the help of a pruning saw or the GTA 26 cordless garden pruner, plus our handy guide, you can make a DIY branch heart in next to no time.

Make a heart ornament from a branch: preparation

The main materials you will use to make your DIY heart will be twigs or a branch. You may have suitable wood from cutting back your trees and hedges, otherwise you can collect what you need the next time you go walking in local woodland. It’s important to remember that you must never cut a growing branch or twigs. Using different thicknesses of branch makes for an effective final design.

Make a heart ornament from a branch: selecting your wood

The branch pieces you use should be relatively straight so it’s easy to glue the trimmed pieces together later on. The variety of wood doesn’t really matter, though it’s worth knowing that smooth bark is easier to paint, and young wood tends to have a smoother exterior. Once you’ve collected your wood, you need to let it dry out before you can start creating your decorative heart – freshly cut wood is not suitable. If you cannot wait the several days that fresh wood needs to dry out, collect branches which are already as dry as possible and leave them in the sun or on radiators before you get started.

STIHL GTA 26 cordless garden pruner

Garden pruner: a handy tool for a myriad of projects

The STIHL GTA 26 garden pruner is the ideal tool for so many DIY projects. It has a powerful saw chain which offers excellent cutting performance, making it a trusty helper for garden work, pruning trees and hedges, and also for many crafting uses. Its handy size and non-slip handle mean you can use it safely without getting tired.

Of course you can also use a handsaw to cut the branch for your ornamental heart project, but a cordless garden pruner will make the work significantly easier. It also means you can progress more quickly and cut with greater precision, for a professional finish.

Safety first: Personal protective equipment

Even when working on a small DIY project, personal protective equipment is essential. Working with powerful tools is fun and means you can extend your abilities, which is great as long as you are relying on effective and safe protective clothing while using them. Always wear your personal protective equipment when working with garden pruners. This includes safety glasses, cut-resistant gloves and much more.

Please see the operating instructions for your product for further details. Before you use your tool for the first time, you should thoroughly familiarise yourself with it and make sure it is in flawless condition before each use. On request, your STIHL dealer will be happy to prepare your tool for its first use, and will also advise you on models and sizes of protective clothing that you can try at your leisure. Please remember that personal protective equipment is no substitute for safe working techniques.

DIY heart ornament from a branch: Tools and materials

All materials needed to make a DIY branch heart, including a STIHL GTA 26 garden pruner.
  • Tools:
    • STIHL GTA 26 cordless garden pruner or a manual saw, such as the STIHL PR 32 CW PRUNING SAW

  • Personal protective equipment:
    • Safety glasses
    • Work gloves

  • Work equipment:
    • Clamps
    • Folding ruler
    • White marker pen
    • Glue gun
    • Cutter knife
    • 120-grit sandpaper
    • White emulsion paint
    • Wooden stirrer

  • Materials:
    • Twigs or a branch
    • Paintbrush
    • Ribbon
    • Candle with candle holder (N.B.: the candle should always be placed in a glass holder for safety.)

Make a heart ornament from a branch: step-by-step instructions

Now you have everything ready, you can start following our detailed, illustrated step-by-step instructions to make your own heart-shaped gift of love!

DIY heart ornament from a branch: a branch being measured and marked with a white pen

Step 1: Mark branch for cutting

Use a white marker pen to mark your branch into sections which are around 7cm long. Remember to take into account the width of the cut that the saw makes. To measure this, just saw partway through a piece of wood and measure the size of the gap.

DIY decorative heart: a STIHL GTA 26 cordless garden pruner being used to cut through a branch clamped to a table

Step 2: Cut to length

With a clamp, secure the branch to a work table, then saw through it at the marked points. If using a cordless garden pruner, be sure to hold the tool with two hands at all times and take care to use it as directed in the operating instructions.

Make a heart ornament from a branch: sections of wood, sandpaper and a utility knife

Step 3: Smooth cut surfaces

Use your sandpaper to smooth all the cut surfaces and remove any splinters.

DIY ornamental heart: pieces of wood being painted white

Step 4: Paint wood

Next, use simple white emulsion paint (wall paint) to paint the branch pieces you have trimmed to size and leave them to dry fully.

Make a heart ornament from a branch: a heart shape on a piece of paper, with painted branch pieces scattered around it

Step 5: Prepare template

Draw a heart on a sheet of paper or print out a suitable template from the internet. This will help you create a nice, symmetrical shape. The template need not be the full size of your finished ornament, but should be big enough to guide you in positioning a few branch pieces around your candle in the right shape.

Upright painted branch pieces being glued together in a heart shape around a heart-shaped votive candle

Step 6: Glue pieces together

Position the candle and holder on the template. Always use a holder made from glass or something similarly fireproof. Once you are happy with the position, you can start placing painted branch pieces around the candle and gluing them together with hot glue. Take care to only glue the branches to each other, and not to the candle holder. Keep adding branches until the shape fills the template. With the basic heart shape established, you can keep building up the size with more pieces of wood if you want to.

Two branches glued into center of the heart act as a platform for the candle

Step 7: Elevate the candle

Your wooden heart is almost finished, but you still need to ensure that the candle flame will burn above the wood so that the candle doesn’t accidentally set your ornament on fire. To do this, remove the candle from the wooden heart and glue two pieces of branch across the opening at an appropriate height. You can then sit the candle holder on top of them. Even with this safety measure, please do not leave the candle unattended while it is burning.

DIY branch heart: the finished decorative heart with a candle burning in it and a red ribbon tied in a bow around it

Step 8: Add ribbon

Once you are happy with the shape and size of your handmade heart, decorate it with a ribbon.

Make a heart ornament from a branch: alternative design ideas

We’ve presented this DIY branch heart project as a great gift for Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, but the principle is really versatile and you can adapt it to suit you. We have a few suggestions, but you can let your creativity run wild.

  • Paint the branches a colour other than white, or perhaps even multiple colours. Alternatively, you could leave the branches unpainted for a rustic look.

  • Instead of ribbon, you could use a length of rope, twine or a glued-on band of paper.

  • Why not make a round candle holder instead of a heart-shaped one? Just use a round candle and a circular template.

  • If you don’t fancy making a candleholder, this design is easy to adapt into a hanging decoration: omit the candle entirely, fill the whole shape with pieces of wood and then add a hanging ribbon to the top. If you choose to do this, you may prefer to cut the branch pieces a bit shorter.