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Old 02-06-2010, 10:18 PM   #1
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Default Simple cross for a grave

Hi - just want to share a work in progress of a project with a couple of small 'how am I going to do this' challenges

A few days a very good friend of mine asked if I could make a cross for his father-in-law's grave as a remembrance of the first anniversary of his passing on the 15th of this month. This is my first attempt at something like this so I wanted to get it right, keeping it simple but respectable and a fitting tribute.

The cross will stand 66" tall with an arm of 32" width and will be about 5" x 2" cross-section

Last year a local carpenter made a cross from pine and, although it looked reasonable at first, after a year in the hot Mexican sun it was starting to crack and looking tattered. I decided to get around this by using a hardwood and settled on Mexican oak but after searching for some thick stock the best I could find was 1" which planed down to 3/4". To use this I have the idea of glue and screwing 3 thicknesses together which as it happens should help with the cross construction.

Next challenge was how to put the guys name on the cross. I thought of surface mounting but was worried the letters might come off over time. Inlay was another idea but not having done this before I decided that was risky and also I thought this would maybe give me shrinkage problems with the heat. In the end I settled for scrolling the name into the cross, word art fashion

To highlight the name and also make it easier to scroll I came up with the idea of routing a channel in the backside of the cross arm front piece to a depth of approx. 1/4" - leaving me a thickness of just under 1/2" to scroll the name - and then filling this with a piece of hard maple to act as a contrast. I'm also going to stain the oak a dark mahogany to emphasize the contrast

The cross construction should be basic carpentry cut and glued with plugged screws through the reverse sides to make sure the 3 layers of oak hold up together and the wood doesn't split. After staining and assembly I'll give the cross a liberal coating of oil before finishing with 3 coats of a satin urethane exterior varnish

The base of the cross will slot and bolt into a metal support stake, which I'll weld to size, so that the actual cross can be removed for any revarnishing in the future.

As usual I'm on a deadline as this has to be finished on the 14th!

Last weekend I mocked up the idea to show to my friend using a piece of mahogany by just cutting the first name which you can see in the following image. Having cut this to 3/4" deep this also persuaded me to go for less depth on the actual piece.

One problem I have is that I'm going to have to use spirals for the first time for either all the cuts or at least for the horizontal ones since the arm at 32" wide is too large to spin on my saw table. I'm not looking forward to this part - LOL!

Mock up



I've prepared the cross arm first layer today and tomorrow i plan to scroll the name. I'll post the progress tomorrow evening

Wish me luck!
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Old 02-06-2010, 10:34 PM   #2
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Wow Jim! Im glad you're doing that and not me! I think all of your ideas are great. Thats too bad you need to resort to Spiral blades. Ive never had any luck with those things.
It sounds like you have a good plan, good luck to you.

Gary
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Old 02-07-2010, 07:54 AM   #3
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Good luck Jim , for I just hate those spiral blades . And believe or not I've tryed them more than once too .........
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Old 02-07-2010, 10:16 AM   #4
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Looks like an interesting project you have taken on. Had you thought about using a router and templet .

Not sure if this would work , but what would happen if you reversed the blade and pulled instead of pushing the wood .

I used spirals on the spiral candle stick project . It works but take your time .
LOL

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Old 02-07-2010, 11:38 AM   #5
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Quote:
Had you thought about using a router and template
Hi Roger - yep i did but even with my Dremel router and a fine bit I reckon I would have problems getting into the corners of the text and achieving the depth. I also reckoned that by the time I'd cut a template it would be quicker to cut the wood - LOL!

Ok, the pattern's stuck down and its a gorgeous sunny morning so I'm off to start scrolling before the shed gets too hot to work. Stupid weather! - at 7:00 am my srollsaw table felt like a block of ice so I decided to wait a little until it warmed up. Guess we are never satisfied!
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Old 02-07-2010, 12:19 PM   #6
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Jim, No suggestions on how to do it, but anxious to see the progress on it. It will be beautiful I'm sure.
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Old 02-07-2010, 06:30 PM   #7
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Jim;

Just remember that with the spirals, your corners are not going to be as crisp and sharp as they would be with regular blades. Other than that observation, I think you ahve an excellent strategy for doing this project.
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Old 02-07-2010, 06:35 PM   #8
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Hi Fran - I love you!! I needed that moral booster!

Been a rough day! I Started scrolling the letters AFTER routing out the channel. Result, no support on the backside of the letters!! Hastily cut a piece of MDF plus a couple of pieces of card as shims to act as a temporary insert into the channel. Now working much better!

First spiral blade was a disaster. I didn't realize it was a reverse spiral from a while back and the bugger had a mind of its own going off in all directions. After changing to a normal spiral things seem better but this is really slooooooooo-wwwwww going!


Just as I got things almost sorted we had unexpected visitors land and that was me occupied for the rest of the afternoon. Some times it pays to be antisocial!!!! I really envy folks who have a shed at the bottom of the garden with soundproofing and a big padlock
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Old 02-10-2010, 07:57 PM   #9
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Update - after spending the last few days moving posts from the Bragging section, mainly as an excuse to avoid going back to those damn spiral blades, I finally got back this afternoon to scrolling the name out of the cross arm.

After trying 3 different types of spirals I settled on of the Flying Dutchman 'New Spirals' size #1 and finally got some semblance of control. I now realize that my budget Delta saw with its inherent back to front blade bounce doesn't like spirals one bit! I used 4 blades to cut the name after quickly realizing that once they start to blunt they also start to wander!

The closeups show the text before cleaning up (upper shot) and after - well almost. Once I'm happy I'm tickle those sharp edges with some very fine sanding paper to ease them over a bit.

For cleaning the letters I ended up making what I can best describe as a series of needle file type of sanding strips by sticking some 1/4" wide strips of 100's sanding belt onto some strips of flat and convex shaped beech sticks which after the glue had set I then back-sanded to make them really thin so as to get into the thin letter parts. These are working really well!
I did try actual needle files first, local crap made in China which I soon abandoned. Later I'll post a photo of them to show how poorly made they are - LOL!

Next step is to finish the clean up and fill the backside of the letters with the strip of maple to create the light background I'm looking for and then start on cutting and assembling the cross pieces.

Three days to finish and counting!!!

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Old 02-10-2010, 08:28 PM   #10
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Looking good Jim.
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