Midnight Parrots with maple tree limb frame

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Project by savannah505 posted 08-02-2008 04:39 AM 3967 views 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is the Midnight Macaws print by Barbara Wallace. I did the frame frome maple tree branches from my property when I lived in Washington state. I had trees cut down and decided to use the branches for my frame. So at 10:00 pm on a snow covered night, I went out with my chain saw and cut what I needed off one of the tree toppings. I discovered that after removing the bark, there were grooves in the wood, created from carpenter ants, there was no sign of this until I took the bark off. I thought this was so cool, as it looked like the parrots had been working on the wood with their beaks. The trick to cutting the flat and straight grooves for the matting and glass was to make a jig that held them in the rigid position for a rabbitt joint, I then dowled them together to make the frame. I do my own matting work

-- Dan Wiggins

6 comments so far

View Jim's profile


80 posts in 4106 days

#1 posted 08-02-2008 06:13 AM

Interesting…I want to try this sometime. So you made a frame out of something like 2/4’s…? And squared that up and held the maple branchs inside it…? Did you use a router for the rabbet? And if so did you run the router across the rigid frame to control the depth?
Very nice end result.

-- Jim,

View savannah505's profile


1813 posts in 3615 days

#2 posted 08-02-2008 07:09 AM

I’m trying to remember how I did this, as I did it 12 years ago. I did all the work on my table saw if I remember right. I had to establish a flat back on the wood first. I used a piece of 3/4’ plywood strip about 4 feet long by 4 inches wide. Where the rabbitt joint is going to be ( about 1/2” deep) by 1/2 wide I screw up through the bottom of the plywood in a counter sunk hole so that the screw head does not ride on the tablesaw. Get a very good grip on the branch and suck it in tight where ever it touches the plywoood. Use at least 4 screws at least 1 1/2” long, so at least 3/4” is going into the branch for strong holding power, this cannot be moving when you run it through the saw. Set up fence to trim off edge of branch right close to screw head, of course avoiding hitting screw. This is very touchy, any movement in the branch while passing through, can of course have bad consequences. The screw head is about 1/8 ” from edge of ply wood. Dry run with blade lowered and saw power off until you feel things will go right for you. Back out and stop if you think anything is going wrong. I can’t stress this enough, this is critical, and not for the faint of heart. It doesn’t matter if there is a little difference in thickness when you’ve done all four pieces, this is not approximate work on the thickness of the frame. When this is done, you can lay flat on the plywood board and screw down the branch to secure it again, into the flat of the frame, now things are a bit easier. Mark where you want the rabbitt to start and stop on the side pieces. You can do this part on a router table, but I stayed with dado blades on my saw, set up the cut to be 1/2”” deep by 1/2” wide, I set the wood to start the cut where my mark is, and gently raised the blade into the cut, you can have a trusted friend do this while you hold the piece of plywood against the fence firmly, I think for safety sake I would do this again with a router table and do a drop cut onto the bit. Run the piece to your mark at the other end and stop, shut off the tool. The top and bottom pieces can be run all the way through. Finish your side pieces with chisel to square the rabbitts where they join the top and bottom after assembling the frame. I used a drum sander to finish the ends of the top and bottom pieces to fit the curvature of the side branches. Drill holes for dowels while frame is in proper position, and dowel together. I don’t recommend anyone trying this unless they have a few years under their belt and are very comfortable with their saw. I hope I have explained this clearly, I would hate to think anyone getting hurt doing this, it ain’t easy. I finished it with 2- coats laquer, I wanted a protected but not very noticable finish. Drink heavily after completion, and be proud. – Dan

-- Dan Wiggins

View savannah505's profile


1813 posts in 3615 days

#3 posted 08-02-2008 07:14 AM

A good way to think of this is to imagine a saw at a sawmill, how it is trimming off the first cut on a log. The trick is how to hold it safely, and firmly. I hope I have made it clear, if not, don’t hesitate to ask and I’ll try to make up a drawing, and post it, or send to you.

-- Dan Wiggins

View Jiri Parkman's profile

Jiri Parkman

953 posts in 3842 days

#4 posted 08-02-2008 05:46 PM

that is interesting frame.

-- Jiri

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3717 days

#5 posted 11-01-2008 04:14 AM

Gorgeous piece of work and the ant trails really add to the piece….thanks for the details as to how you accomplished this amazing frame : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View alx2000ag's profile


80 posts in 3531 days

#6 posted 12-27-2008 05:42 AM

what a waste of wood… dont think soo

-- ALEX, from Texas, ( jewelry boxes)

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