About 10 years ago, I made a batch of those wine bottle balance pieces for Christmas presents. When my step daughter was here, talking about gifts for the guests who make the long drive to her wedding, I suggested these would be pretty nice. I was thinking like 1 for each couple, so maybe I’d be in for 50 or so pieces. Her first request was for 275 pieces! DOH! She later downsized it to 125, but I already had lumber cut for 200+ so she’s getting about 175 and I’m keeping the rest for other giveaways and maybe an art/craft show next year.
We started by planing maple, cherry, and walnut, along with some other random scraps down to 3/4” thickness. Then they were ripped to 3” widths. I ran these long lengths through the router to put the 1/4” roundover on the edges before cutting them down. I kept track of how many pieces I could get out of each piece by writing it on the end of the board
Before cutting into the double ended pieces, we rough sanded them to remove any lines and chatter marks from the planer. The wife helped in this process.
I then cut them to length as a double ended piece so I wouldn’t lose any material on the miter end and only had to make one cut. It was much easier to drill them as a double also. Less handling, more drilling.
Here’s the fixture I made for drilling the holes. It aint pretty but it allowed for 90% of the chips to go to the shop vac and held them in place for a nice clean hole. I made sure to drill from the face, so if there was any tear out, it would be on the back of the piece.
Here they are all cut and drilled, ready to head next door to Jeff’s shop for the engraving
Jeff (Not a LJ here yet, but more worthy than many of us!) has a Shark CNC router that we used to engrave different quotes on the holders. There were four different quotes she requested, and I made a few more up as I went along.
It took about 5 minutes to engrave each one, so as they were being engraved, I finish sanded them. Returning to my shop, I cleaned up the engraving with a scrub brush to remove any fibers, blew them out with the compressor, and stained them with various stains, mostly Early American because I have a whole gallon of it left over from my hardwood floors.
Here is the template piece I made with the dimensions. I’m a big believer in making a mock-up piece out of pine before building anything final. That’s especially important when you’re making 200 pieces. I was terrified that I’d get them all done and they wouldn’t balance!
When I modified the original design that I had made 10 years ago, I sent Jackie a short video to show her the difference in the new design. I’ll try to upload it here. (my first blog and first video upload) You can see that the original design, while neat looking because it holds the bottle perfectly horizontal, is very tippy and a little tricky to set up. The new design is super simple to set up, and to make. The video may not have loaded properly, I’ll either try again, or you’ll have to take my word for it!
I still need to finish them this weekend. Planning on spraying a water based poly (also left over from my hardwood floor job). I’ll post an update when I get this step done, as well as some nice close up shots of the finished pieces.
-- Matt CueBall Rosendaul. I don't think I've ever had a cup of coffee that didn't have cat hair or sawdust in it.