Milling Wood

Years ago, I didn’t understand how wood got milled to the right dimensions. When I planned out Tyla’s jewelry box,I spent an unreasonable number of hours trying to figure out how to get wood that was the right thickness. Fast forward a few years and I’m now much more comfortable with buying any sized chunk of wood and getting it to the right thickness, width and length.

There are four tools generally involved in the way that I do it:

  1. First I use the jointer to get two flat and 90 degree faces on the board. These give me good (and safe) reference points to use other tools.
  2. If the wood is much thicker than I need, I’ll use the bandsaw next. This lets me slice down the length of the board to make two thinner boards.It’s less wasteful than turning all the extra thickness into sawdust.
  3. The bandsaw isn’t incredibly precise and it leaves some saw marks, so the next step is the planer. I use the jointed face on the bottom as a reference and then make the top face parallel and get the board to exactly the right thickness.
  4. The final step is the last edge and that can be easily trimmed up on the table saw.

When I started building Elijah’s Christmas present, I took a video of that process of milling one board. It was only about 1″ thick and I need a 1 1/2″ thick board so I milled it down to 3/4″, cut it in half and glued the two halves together.

Name Puzzle

Tim and Chelsea’s daughter had her first birthday and Tyla had the idea of a wooden name puzzle. I decided to give it a shot. I found a font that I liked, printed out her name and then used spray glue to stick it to a piece of pine. That was cut out on the bandsaw and sanded. For the paint, I went with a spray enamel which I hadn’t used before. It worked well but the weather was cool and rainy so it was hard to get the coats to pile up. In the end I left it with the top looking great and the other sides looking passable. For the bottom, I grabbed a scrap of sapele and routered out space around the letters. It might be a bit too challenging of a gift for her to do at this point but it was fun to make and she seemed to enjoy moving the pieces around.

Woodworking Project Recap

When we visited Grandma Martens this summer, she showed us a photo album of a bunch of Grandpa’s woodworking projects. I thought that was a pretty neat idea, and while I’ve blogged about most of them, I thought I’d walk around the house and make a video of my projects. I realize it’s dorky, but what did you expect from me?

Wooden Pixel Mario

A couple years ago, David Picciuto made a Super Mario picture using 1″ square “pixels” cut out of three types of wood. That has stuck in my head as a fun idea and it ended up being the first project that I completed since April. (My shop has been used for storage during the siding and window project on our house.)

I chose maple, walnut and paduk for the white, brown and red pieces. The key to this project is getting all ~150 squares to be totally identical in size so that when you build them into Mario, the lines stay straight. The next trick was getting a chamfer cut on all four sides of the squares. This helps to define the edges and made each square look more like a pixel. I cut two of the sides with a router when the wood was still in 1″ strips. After cross cutting those strips into squares, I set the table on my small disc sander to a 45 degree angle and sanded the rest. Then I had to hand sand each square to clean them up.

David put his on to a square piece of plywood and made a frame for it, but I wanted to make mine frameless. I cut out a piece of plywood on the bandsaw that would be just smaller than the assembled Mario. I picked a row near the center and carefully glued it as straight as I could. From there I glued two or three rows at a time working out toward the top and bottom. I took my time and let the various rows dry before getting too far so that I could make sure I was staying straight.

I love this project! Thank you David for the inspiration!

Wooden Cross

In August of 2016, Logan and I took down the two dying trees that were along our driveway. I saved a few pieces of the wood and attempted to cut them into tiny slabs. There’s an old saying that goes something like “logs rot and lumber dries.” Yes, you can leave a log to sit there and dry completely, but it’s better if you can cut it into very rough sizes and stack it up with room for air to move between all the pieces. It will drive more evenly with less cracking.

I finally pulled it out of the shed a couple weeks ago and stared at it … it wasn’t particularly beautiful cherry, but it seemed fun to use it for a small project. I remember Grandpa Martens making crosses out of the tree they took down in his front yard so I set off to make a cross as well.

The design emerged from some trial and error, but I ended up building a cross with 45 degree miters to fit all the pieces together. Then I sawed it in half in both directions to end up with 4 L shapes. I cut a rabbet into all of the interior sides and inlaid a piece of paduk, leaving the cherry a bit longer than the paduk. It was a tricky glue up but it held together. I finished it off with a couple coats of shellac. I think it will look a bit better as the cherry oxidizes and darkens over time.