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Our Family Flag Project – “Everyday is Independence Day”

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Project by SchottFamily posted 07-03-2012 06:44 AM 945 views 2 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m copying and pasting from our family blog where the formatting is probably a little better. I feel a little silly posting this along with your beautifully skilled furniture, but this is really the first thing we’ve made as a family. I’m working on some built ins for our home-school room, which I’ll post shortly, and though they required more skill than this project, they’ll never mean as much as this one did.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Having just bought our first home a few months ago, we’re constantly on the look out for decorations to fill the space. We went from an 1100 sq ft rental to more than double that, so there’s a lot of what I guess you would call voids around the house. We’re not really in any sort of hurry to fill them with anything less than a perfect fit for our family’s style.
Angie’s been on sort of a folksy Americana kick lately and I’m not complaining. I know I’m only a dude, but as style phases go, this is probably the one that’s really clicked with me. If you know me, I have a passion for all things America – from current events to politics and especially history. As a family, we try to interject this love into the way we’re bringing the kids up, so when Angie came up with this idea, I jumped at it.
I’m not sure where she saw it, but while picking up some nick-knacks for the living room, Angie came back home with this idea for an artsy Americana wall flag. Looking on the web, I found small ones for a few hundred bucks. What?!? We could do better than that!
So, off I went to Home Depot for some supplies. I picked up 7 1×6x6 #2 knotty pine boards (the rougher the better), and brought them home not really having an idea of what exactly we wanted and how we were going to pull it off. I can honestly say that pretty much every decision with this project was on the fly, and as a result, was done and re-done at least twice. It was a fun project though and I definitely learned from it in case we ever decide to do this sort of thing again.
Sizing and assembling the flag – first, we had to decide if we were going to rip these boards down to stripe width or just smack them together as is. I ended up ripping about an inch off each board to reduce the size of the overall flag. I cross-cut about 12 inches off the length of the boards too. This gave us a final dimension of 3′x5′. Again, none of this was planed out – just sort of eyeballed for the size we were looking for and the space allotted on our wall. Once cutting down all the boards, I broke out my Kreg Jr. pocket hole jig for it’s first use. This thing is AWESOME, but quickly drew attention to the poor quality of my small 6″ bar clamps. For each pocket hole, since the clamp wouldn’t hold the jig, I ended up putting my full weight down to hold it while I drilled the holes. I quickly screwed the boards together and flipped it over and was disappointed. It looked too nice and I was going for more of an aged rustic look. So, we pulled out all the screws and ran half the boards through the thickness planer. Staggering the boards randomly, combined with the slightly varying thickness, gave us just the look we were after.
Painting the stripes – With the flag finish side up, I found some leftover ZINSSER BIN Primer from the painting we did a few months ago. I highly recommend this stuff. It’ll cover ANYTHING. Two coats of primer and an hour later, we were ready to lay down the stripes. We used Scotch’s Blue Painter’s Tape to get the lines right and brushed on some Behr Ultra – Terracotta Sun for the red stripes. Immediately after the paint went down, we pulled the tape. After 20 minutes, I went back over the stripes with a dry brush to soften the lines and leave some brush strokes in odd places. I thought that made it look older, which is what we were looking for.
While we’re on the subject of paint, I want to point out that if you’re going to do a project like this on the cheap, and don’t plan on needing a lot of paint, all home centers offer samples of any paint they sell for about $2 for pint of paint. This worked out perfect for us.
For the field of blue, we went with Behr Ultra – Desert Night. As you may be able to tell from the pictures, the colors we went with could be considered too light or washed out. Believe it or not, that was intentional since we planed on staining the flag once the painting was done. Though I had never done it, I read a few articles on antiquing furniture and that was one suggested technique.
When it came time to paint the stars on, the trouble began. I made two attempts at painting them on – even taking a few hours to cut out stencils that Angie picked up. No matter what I did, the paint bled through (BAD). After painting the field blue for the third time, we hung it up to consider our options. We were already two weekends into this project and I didn’t want to spend time taping up the outlines of 50 stars. After a few brainstorming sessions, we decided to cut some stars out using the band saw. I took the scrap cutoffs and re-sawed the boards in half. The intention was to run the resawn boards through the planer to remove the blade marks but we kind of dug the way they came out – sort of worn and imperfect from the blade wandering. From then on, we cut the stars out almost completely, and resawed them in half 5 at a time. We decided to glue the stars on and then paint them. What a MESS! After multiple brush coats of Behr Ultra – Echo Valley, we weren’t happy with the coverage we were getting on the rough textured stars. Again, we talked it over and decided to cut bait and break out the BIN again, this time in rattle can form. As usual, the BIN covered everything perfectly. Now with white over spray all over the field of blue, it was again time to paint it. Though we used a very small artist’s brush, it didn’t come out perfectly. There were a few spots where we got a spatter of blue on a star, etc. Taking a step back, I think it really added to the whole vibe of the project. Again, waiting about 20 minutes, I went back and hit the blue with a dry brush. While the blue was drying, I painted a thin coat of the red on my saw horses, let it dry for about 20 minutes, and laid some tape over it. I quickly pulled the tape back (with paint covered adhesive) and applied it to three different white stripes. I have no idea where this idea came from, but I’m sure I didn’t come up with it. I’m sure I read it on someone’s blog. It came out great though.
After the paint dried, I went back with a flat head screw driver, a metal rule and a paint can opener and started to gouge out the joints and the edges. I also chamfered the edges. I tried taking a utility knife to an edge to take out a little more material, but found that looked a little too fakey. Yes, that’s a technical term. Everything up to that point, in my opinion, looked pretty naturally aged.
So here’s where the rubber was going to meet the road. I painted a few swatches on the saw horses the day before and then hit them with the stain. I was not happy at all with the results. Angie couldn’t even tell where they had been stained. I figured the stain I picked up was too light (Varathane – Red Oak), or maybe it just wouldn’t take on the painted surface. After talking about it again, we decided to put it on a little heavier and let it sit for about 5 minutes. That was the ticket. Once we wiped it down, we applied a second coat in selected areas to give it a stained (no pun intended) effect. We wiped that off and then applied a complete coat again. This time everything looked FANTASTIC. One problem – hours passed and the surface was super tacky. I had fears about bugs and dust sticking to this thing and getting a dirty fur, ruining it. I was ready to hit the thing with a heat gun and spray an acrylic clear coat on it to save it – really panicking, when Angie stopped me. She noticed that it wasn’t just wet, but that the solvents in the varnish liquified the dried paint – it was even checked and cracked in some places. She also noticed it was drying in a few small spots and had a nice subtle gloss where it had dried. The day was saved!
“Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?“ – When it was all said and done, between the flag and the support cleats, and the half of the french cleat I had built into the support to hang it, the flag weighs nearly 70 lbs. I don’t think either of us imagined it would be that heavy and now that we realized it did, how were we going to safely hang that on the wall. In my original plan, it would hang by a french cleat (half bolted to the wall and the other half built into the support framing on the back of the flag. Living in sunny, shake and bake southern Cali, and with 5 kids running around, I started to doubt my design. I hung the wall mounted half of the cleat on the wall with 6 T anchor bolts. Once that was up, I was able to hang on the cleat with all 250+ lbs of my body weight. Still to be safe though, we added a 200 lb strength wire hanger up as backup.
After lifting it up and bringing it back down half a dozen times to level it, we finally got it squared away and perfect. Now that it’s all said and done, there were many things I would have done differently, but I’m happy with it. I guess someone could say that it takes a lot of commitment to hang a 3′x5′ family made piece of folk art on the wall, but it suits me just fine and it really fits our family and our love of, and gratitude for, being American. Thanks for reading and a Happy 4th of July from our family to yours!

-- IZZZZZI BoB IZZZZZI





3 comments so far

View Enoelf's profile

Enoelf

192 posts in 1014 days


#1 posted 07-03-2012 12:54 PM

Great story, Great Project! Turned out fantastic!
Thanks for sharing.
Well done.

-- Central Ohio, Still got 9 and 15/16 fingers!

View Monty Queen's profile

Monty Queen

1585 posts in 2003 days


#2 posted 07-03-2012 11:11 PM

Wow, Awesome job, i love the story. A project is better when the whole family gets involved. Excellent work.

-- Monty Q, Columbia, South Carolina.

View DamnYankee's profile

DamnYankee

3240 posts in 1313 days


#3 posted 07-05-2012 10:50 AM

Great story.

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

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