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Blog entry by MarkTheFiddler posted 798 days ago 4184 reads 1 time favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Howdy,

I’m going to be working through a new project that is a bit of a stretch for me. I know some of you could do it with your eyes closed so I’ll take any advice you all care to give. I’m going to make a fairly large piece of wall art for my den. The attached image provides a decent idea of my concept. It’s not an inlay pattern. It’s more like a room divider or trellis.

Some very kind soul gave away her old levelor blinds. I have lots and lots of slats (about 200). I’m going to see how easy it is to strip the paint off. If it’s a huge burden then I’ll end up painting the whole thing.

My concerns are mostly involved with precise cutting and rigidity.

1) I believe that if I cut 1/8 inch slots have way through the wood, I should be able to match the pieces together into a cross. I would love to be able to cut slots through 4 or inches of of stacked slats simultaneously but I’m worried about slippage. Any advice.

2) The next worry is that some of the wood will meet in a corner. I’m even more concerned with precision there. I wouldn’t actually be cutting a slot. Rather, I’d be cutting a 1/8 inch corner off the thing. Maybe I can
cut a slot where I need it, then cut one side of the slot off. I guess that will solve my problem where pieces dead-end themselves into a longer slat. Any advice.

3) Even If I get the cuts just right and spend countless hours on the cutting, will the structure hold together? I’m afraid that the whole thing will fold in on it self because I think the only thing I can use is glue. Honestly, I’m not even sure I could clamp the things. I’m thinking of making a 3 D grid to hold the pieces together while I attach them. If some of the glue gets in the grid and dries… Any advice?

Anyhow – THANKS for looking!
4) I think I am ok here but the slats appear to be 17/64 thick, not an actual 1/8) thick. I suppose the paint accounts for the extra thickness. The blade is 1/8 thick. When I cut the slots and cross them together, will this cause a problem? I’m actually hoping the difference will help me somewhat and provide a tighter joint without harming anything else. Any advice?

-- Thanks for all the lessons!



15 comments so far

View tyskkvinna's profile

tyskkvinna

1308 posts in 1620 days


#1 posted 797 days ago

I think it will be delicate, but will hold itself together and not collapse on itself. I would look at some of the quick set glues or epoxies—actually epoxy would be great!

-- Lis - Michigan - http://www.missmooseart.com - https://www.etsy.com/people/lisbokt

View sras's profile

sras

3820 posts in 1763 days


#2 posted 797 days ago

You might want to do a couple of test fits. Maybe take one slat and cut it into several pieces and slot them. My guess is that you will develop a technique within the first few slots and it will work very well.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

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MarkTheFiddler

1774 posts in 822 days


#3 posted 797 days ago

Epoxy and practice. They both make sense to me. That’s enough for start. Thanks much!

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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MarkTheFiddler

1774 posts in 822 days


#4 posted 797 days ago

Howdy,

I did a little experimentation with a slat as suggested. I stacked 4 pieces together and ran it across the table saw twice. I then flipped two parts over and sloted them together. 3 minutes start to finish.

Lessons,

1) The fit is snug. I couldn’t have hoped for it to be better. I think I may just try a tiny bead of woodglue because I have no need for it to dry quickly except at the corners. I’ll experiment with corners tomorrow. (It’s been a very long and busy day.)

2) I made a really rookie mistake. My table saw was not set to a perfect 90 degrees. I’ll be taking better care of that issue next time.

3) I’m going to have to make a sled to speed me along and to ensure I’m at 90 degrees when I cut. I’ve never seen a sled first hand. Still I think it will be my solution for keeping a bundle of slats secure. I’ve got to learn how it will work on my table.

I’ve got a lot to learn here but so far I’m very pleased. It doesn’t take much.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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MarkTheFiddler

1774 posts in 822 days


#5 posted 796 days ago

Alrighty then. I tried to make a table saw sled today. I was a bit nervous about the whole thig but it seemed to be turning out all right. I tested and I seemed to have really smooth action. No jiggle and no binding.

AND THEN….. I made the cut…. The rookie strikes again! Now theres a jiggle AND binding. The sled went crooked when I made the cut. Talk about frustration. The moment of triumph turned into the moment of failure.

I might be able to straighten it by adding a straight strip to the front. The project I’m working on in this blog only requires a center cut about halfway up the center of my board. I should have a good inch of wood to help me get this thing true again.

I started to experiment with a little jig. The little piece will be used to hold my previous cut while set for the next. That will give me consistent cuts. I was trying to get it to a perfect 90 degrees and that’s how I noticed the twist in the sled. I’m going to be thinking of a better way to handle the jig AFTER I take care of the twist.

Learn learn learn, but it’s all good.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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MarkTheFiddler

1774 posts in 822 days


#6 posted 795 days ago

Alrighty – You LumberJocks have helped by diagnosing my problems with the crosscut sled. It’s not as much of a fix as it is a TOTAL redo!! At least I get to keep my tracks. The rest – I can either fix it easily for this project or I rebuild it this weekend and the whole project goes on hold.

I think I have a good idea for the jig. I’ll try to draw it out and share.

Thanks for the help!

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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MarkTheFiddler

1774 posts in 822 days


#7 posted 795 days ago

Well I drew the Jig.

Since I want each slat to have each cut to the center in exactly the same spot, I’m going to lock each cut into place with 1/2 inch of my slat wood. It should lock all the slats together nicely. I realize this will be time consuming but I feel it will be accurate.

When I have a locking slat in place. I can set it up against a stop I will add to my sled (labelled as jig in image). I cut again, add locking slat, set against stop, cut, lock, set, cut, lock, set.

Do you think it will work?

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View sras's profile

sras

3820 posts in 1763 days


#8 posted 794 days ago

You’re making good progress! All this prep will be worth it.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

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MarkTheFiddler

1774 posts in 822 days


#9 posted 792 days ago

Today, my very basic but pretty durn accurate and useful sled is mostly done. I say pretty durn accurate because I don’t have a micrometer equipment so I can’t give you the number. Let’s say that I did four cuts and the final angle looked really good on on my rafter square. I need to put some blade guards on it tomorrow. On Saturday, I start cutting my slats. We’ll find out how good my idea for a jig works out.

By the way, the sled is not a thing of beauty. It’s made from 1/2” MDF. It’s just functional. It moves well and there is no jiggle. As promised, there are no bells and whistles. Thanks to everyone who gave me pointers. Even my basic sled benefitted from everyone’s help.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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MarkTheFiddler

1774 posts in 822 days


#10 posted 791 days ago

I actually got a jump on cutting the slats today. I have some progress to show and I decided to make two of these wall decorations. I may regret it later but for right now, It seems to be going smooth. Assembly has almost gone with out a hitch.

A couple of notes on the picture.
The Blue line points to a board I broke. I decided to be a little more gentle after that. I’m going to recut 2 boards. You can’t see my other break on the bottom side of the grid but it’s there.

The purple line points to the cutout that will go into the frame. Even though the boards that run up and down the screen have slots cut from the bottom side, the larger slots that will insert into the frame are cut out of the top side.

The frame will consist of 4 of these slats glued together and mitered at the corners. 3 of the frame slats will be sloted to receive the grid. One of the slats will remain whole to cover the joints. I haven’t needed to use a drop of glue yet but the time is coming. All those corners will need a little help when I join them. My jig concept is not working quite as well as I had hoped but it is working well enough. I can’t complain about the results.

I’ve got to say – This evening has been a load of fun. I can’t wait for 8:00 AM tomorrow. I will start up the saw again to finish the smaller pieces and frame for the first one and cut the entire second piece.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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MarkTheFiddler

1774 posts in 822 days


#11 posted 791 days ago

Oh – For reference – the tile floor is 18” square.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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MarkTheFiddler

1774 posts in 822 days


#12 posted 789 days ago

A bit of a progress report. I cut the second piece yesterday along with the pieces I needed to complete the first. I found out the biggest flaw with the jig. It’s not a precise method. When you are joining several hundred corners, you need precision. I use the extra pieces I cut for the first and used them for templates to cut the third. That means it matches the joint spacing on the second wall piece.

Right now I have the second and third. Mostly put together. Still those imperfections with my jig caused a lot of bows. I spent 3 hours shaving out wood to get rid of the bows. As a result, my corners meet up much better. I’m satisfied with the results.

Lesson learned: don’t use a jig that has any potential for play. I think my absolute best option would have been to very carefully measure and cut a template. The template would have allowed consistency and far less rework. Still I got some practice with a little hand carving.

I had to quit for the night because I got in the mood to get it over with. Yep, I’ll use that as my clue to quit from now on.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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MarkTheFiddler

1774 posts in 822 days


#13 posted 788 days ago

Clarity this morning.

I got all this wood for free. I have tons left. These slats are pretty much worthless for any other project that I can conceive of.

I’m not even close to polishing up the little precision mistakes on just one of the pieces. I don’t think it will ever be perfect. My eye will always be drawn to my mistakes and I am super critical after the fact. I don’t want to say – I could have done this better if…

My better sled is still off by about 1/256. I think I can get it to 1/1000.

My jig and template ideas both had conceptual value but failed (or will fail). The jig was wobbly. Template was subject to shifting after I did the set and it’s accuracy was still subject to my negligable ability to make it precise.

I have over 60% of my free stock left. Considering that forcing the current ones to look good will take longer than starting over fresh – I am starting completely over.

That actually makes me feel good. The biggest problem with woodworking is that the materials are so valuable. It’s not like you can use your lawn clippings and make a cabinet. This one time, my materials are like lawn clippings. I have the luxury of starting fresh and doing something right. I don’t have to throw good money after bad.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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MarkTheFiddler

1774 posts in 822 days


#14 posted 784 days ago

I think I’ll wrap this Blog up now.

I’m painting the wall art. It’s going about 1/3 as fast as I thought it should but that is really my formula. Everything I do seems to take 3 times longer than I estimate.

I struggled mightily with precision. My first 3 pieces were plagued. I’m glad that I decided to STOP building more pieces of wall art with an imprecise crosscut sled. When I got that sled into the super accurate and super smooth zone, I moved on to the jig. The picture I drew up above is almost exactly right. I did not use a template after all.

The picture is of my jig screwed into the sled. It’s not so much of a jg as it is a block. On the back rail of the sled (Closest to me?) I attached two slats with the slots cut into them. I took about an 1 1/4 thick piece of slat and inserted it into the slot on the back rail. I then took one of those clamps, that look like a giant closepin, and clamped the other end to the block. That’s the jig. I could take the jig on and off the sled as needed. Everytime I cut a slot in a stack of slats, (Hard not to laugh at my own terminology), I just moved them over and slotted them on the jig slat. It went very quickly. All of that locking stuff I came up with in earlier posts was a lot harder and less accurate.

Before too long, I had cut the interior of 2 wall pieces. I was able to dry fit an entire unit in 20 minutes. I took it apart and glued the thing together in about 3 hours. The second unit took another 3 hours.

The next day I started making the frame. I glued 3 slats together then clamped them. I had 2 frames so there were 8 sets of these to glue together.

That’s were I made my next mistake. I should have clamped all of them to level surface. I introduced a warp into the frame pieces by clamping the pieces to each other with those heavy clamps. I set the work on the ground with all those heavy clamps protruding from the 3 skinny slats. The clamps twisted the slats and the glue dried to lock the twist into place.

My next mistake was by not having the right tools for the job. I could have used 100 small ratcheting clamps but I used my 10 or so different clamps to get the 8 frames glued together. I had a little separation on some of the slats instead of a consistent bond across the length of the slats. It was mainly because I didn’t want to take forever to reuse the clamps again so I took them off before I had a completely hard bond.

Next step, I went back to the sled and jig. I cut all the slots I thought I needed through all 3 layers of the frame.

That was my next mistake. I should have referred to my drawing. I didn’t need all those slots. There are slots in the frame that don’t join to another cross piece. I’m living with that error.

Next step, I glued a fourth slat to the three slotted frame sides. I clamped them to a level surface. Most of the warp disappeared because the original glue was still tacky enough to shift.

Next, I dry fitted the frame pieces to the inner structure and marked my miter lines. I removed them and made the miter cuts.

I started gluing the frame to the inner structure and with a tiny amout of coaxing I clamped each side into place. I only have 2 miter clamps that worked on the structure. I could have used 8. Once again, I had a little slippage due to trying to finish without the right tools (too few clamps). I’m living with the slippage. I have two frame corners that are not perfect. The frame also pulled away from the structure on one of the sides. I have about a 3/32 gap on one side. That gap is going on top where it’s above most people’s heads so they won’t see the gap. Maybe it’s more important that “I” can’t see the gap.

With all those issues, most resolved, the structures look really good. I learned a lot on that journey. Most of what I learned, I can apply to future projects. I’ll post the completed pieces of ART when I’m with the hand painting.

By the way, I don’t like to use tape when I paint. I’m too impatient for little wrinkles, imprecise fitting and perfect adhesion. Sometimes my impatience has a benefit. (If you don’t agree – go find all your jigs and throw them out. ;) ) I got pretty good at painting smooth, clean lines without the tape. It doesn’t mean I get the job done any faster. I have a very slow very intentional brush stroke when I paint a line or “cut in”. What it does mean is I enjoy that particular skill and artistry more than I like taping.

Mark

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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MarkTheFiddler

1774 posts in 822 days


#15 posted 783 days ago

I’m Done with my wall art.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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