Curly Maple and Walnut cross - build thread - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum

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post #1 of 27 Old 04-14-2017, 12:52 AM Thread Starter
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Curly Maple and Walnut cross - build thread

This will be a long post as far as number of photos but short relative to the actual time involved for the build. And since I like to tell the story that goes along with a build you’ll get to skip your favorite TV shows and just read about this build (ok, I know some of you will just look at the pictures and not read a single word ).

Much of what I’ll show you was brand new to me – I had a good idea of what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it but some facets of the process were new to me. I think I used every tool in my shop except the scroll saw.

This project started last July, 2016, when our new Pastor was looking at my iPad stand on stage and said he liked it. I told him the woods are Curly Maple and unsteamed Black Walnut. He commented that we didn’t have a cross in the auditorium (sanctuary for you formal guys) and asked if I could build one. I consider it an honor to be asked to build something for our church and certainly said ‘yes’ right away.

I asked what woods he wanted; did he want it crude and realistic, did he want a piece of furniture, something in between, how big, etc. He said, “Just like your iPad stand, a piece of furniture.” “How big?” I asked, thinking at the price of those woods it would be something small – a couple of feet tall to set on the Lord’s Supper table or as an accent piece somewhere on the platform.

“Nine feet tall” was his answer. I actually laughed out loud and asked if he was serious. Turns out he was serious and he wanted some Walnut, as well. So I started looking for Curly Maple long enough to do this right and for some unsteamed Black Walnut. I knew I would resaw whatever I got because it was simply going to be too heavy to do the entire cross in 4/4 lumber.

It was time to start drawing some samples for his approval and to start a discussion on the style and look. I gave him about five options with different ways to use the two woods and ultimately he said the one I showed him first is the one he liked – Walnut sides and back with Curly Maple front. On back the Walnut cross beam is one piece but the front Curly Maple is mitered where the four pieces meet.

The wood arrived and we resawed it so the cross would be lighter. Some of the boards were almost 9” wide and over 80” long – that’s a resaw that will keep your attention!! We planed the Walnut and every so lightly planed the Curly Maple but we have an old DeWalt 733, no fancy planer with helical cutterhead, so we had to be very careful to keep from tearing the wood fibers. I decided it was best to put some 80 grit on the drum sander and run the Curly Maple through that for dimensioning.

But then our CNC frame showed up; guess which project now had my attention!? Yep, for the next many months I built the CNC and didn’t touch anything on the cross build. Nobody at church asked about it and I didn’t bring it up because I wanted to work on the CNC. I thought about it often, though, and knew I needed to get back on it so in late January I got all of the materials out, my sketches, dimension notes, etc. and set everything out on the table saw to see what I had and to get back in the mode of building the cross.

Interesting how all of this works sometimes but a couple of hours after I got all of this out I got a text from our Pastor asking about the cross. I told him my goal was to have it for Easter which was what he had hoped I would say.

So that brings us to today, Thursday before Good Friday, and the cross isn’t finished. But it is oh so close! The only reason I’m posting this now is because I’ve glued up all I can for the evening and will get back on it in the morning, so this may not get updated right away. I also plan to do a video but that will be next week at the earliest. I’ve taken a lot of photos but not a lot of video because I have been so focused on finishing this that I didn’t want to spend a lot of time setting up for good video although I have some decent video of the build.

So now that the back story is finished here are a few pictures:

Rendering of the approved design -


Curly Maple on the left is for the cross. The Spalted Maple and Tiger Cherry are for other projects.


My wonderful shop foreman is a great board catcher!


All the boards resawn, planed, and lightly drum sanded -


Beautiful figure in the Curly Maple!


Milling the wood took place in November 2016 and everything sat until February this year. At that point I began work on the rock. Ever built a rock? Neither had I but I started with a couple of 2x12 boards and just let my imagination take over from there.

Here's the back profile I started with; it would change -


This is the internal support for the cross -


This is assembled with construction adhesive and screws for the most part, some areas have Titebond and 18 gauge nails. I kerfed the 2x4's to bend them to shape but this shape changed also. I felt it was too symmetrical on the base so I changed one side.


Hand holes cut in back, profile changed on base, levelers ready to attach -


Levelers installed; these would get changed, as well. I didn't like the look because rocks don't usually sit up on three legs, they sit on the ground. So I moved them later -


Internal structure and bracing -


This was NOT fine woodworking! It was crude, free hand, grab the jig saw and get after it - kind of fun, actually -


The next few stages get ugly, crude, and sort of comical on building the rock but it's late so I'll post more tomorrow if I can work it in.

Enjoy!
David

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post #2 of 27 Old 04-14-2017, 02:15 AM
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That's certainly an ambitious project. I hope you do get it done by Easter. For What it's worth, I have not had good luck staining maple. I have heard that dye works well on it, though. I'll let others will far more knowledge weigh in on this, though. Best of luck!
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post #3 of 27 Old 04-14-2017, 09:07 AM
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"(ok, I know some of you will just look at the pictures and not read a single word)."

Sorry ... this is me. I don't get into forums to read novels. I do like pictures with short captions. So far, I am very intrigued with the base build. Looking forward to more of the 'photo-journalistic' story.
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post #4 of 27 Old 04-14-2017, 05:51 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikechell View Post
"(ok, I know some of you will just look at the pictures and not read a single word)."

Sorry ... this is me. I don't get into forums to read novels. I do like pictures with short captions. So far, I am very intrigued with the base build. Looking forward to more of the 'photo-journalistic' story.
Your reply didn't have any pictures so I didn't read it... LOL!

Hey, Mike, at least you read the first paragraph - what more can I ask???

I like telling the story but I do make certain there are plenty of photos for people who don't want to read my drivel. After all, just because I enjoy writing it and telling the story doesn't mean everyone has to like reading what I write - right?

Thanks for following along!

David

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post #5 of 27 Old 04-14-2017, 06:27 PM Thread Starter
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I'm waiting on glue to dry on the cross so I figured it was a good time to post a little on this build. I told you the next steps were a bit comical so when you see the first photo you'll understand; it looks like a 5-year old trying to build a fort! This is one mess of thin resawn 2x4's just sort of slapped onto the frame. While there doesn't appear to be any rhyme or reason as you look at the photos I had a clear vision of what I wanted the entire time. It was just a matter of getting there...

So this is how it look after an hour or so of resawing and slapping boards on - pretty crude looking!


And after a bit more time -


I used sheetrock joint self adhesive mesh tape to bridge the gaps and then used joint compound to smooth the transition areas. I didn't take any photos but I used a razor knife to trim the thin pieces to a better shape before this process. Sandy didn't mind spreading a little of the joint compound and since she's easier on the eyes than me I took her picture instead of the other way around.


This is after the first round of joint compound -


Messy and dusty when sanded so we carried it outside -


Giving the rock some character -


I took some artistic liberties and drew this quickly in Fusion 360, then cut it on the CNC - three crosses to the empty tomb. This is on the side and won't really be visible unless you know it's there and you're looking for it.


Texturing the rock using Kilz with Walnut dust mixed in -


Getting closer to looking like a rock -


My target rock, a piece of granite from the base of El Capitan (I wasn't really trying to take it from the Park but it got caught up in a ground tarp and followed me home). I didn't want the rock to be this dark but this is sort of the look I wanted -


Now it's a rock! I used acrylic black mixed with Kilz to get a dark gray and then used a stiff brush to spatter the rock. After a round of that I used the pure black acrylic for the black. Then I used a cheap 3" brush and some more of the Kilz with Walnut dust and black mixed in to lightly pat a few areas.


Close up photo -


As I said earlier I didn't like the way the levelers showed - it looked like a rock on three legs (which is what it was, come to think of it...). So I moved them inward and now they're almost completely hidden. They'll unscrew about 2" but there shouldn't be a need for them to be turned more than once to level this on stage. I also profiled the bottom rim so it wasn't just a smooth 2x4.


Sandy painted the back with Kilz and I painted it black with the acrylic. I may come back and put some flat black on top of it - too glossy. Looks sort of like the Space Shuttle to me - LOL!


For now this is the final look. I'm thinking of spattering some more black on it but we'll see. The weight of the rock is about 70 pounds.


Ok, glue's probably dry so I'm heading back out to the shop and I can smell supper - even better!

Thank for following along!
David

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post #6 of 27 Old 04-14-2017, 10:08 PM
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That is awesome! It's a very interesting way to build a rock.

Back in my early life, I built sets for High school plays for a couple of years. One time, we had to build boulders similar to yours. They had to be strong enough for an actor to stand on.
I did the central support structure similar to yours, but the "rock" look, we did with chicken wire and paper mache.
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post #7 of 27 Old 04-14-2017, 10:18 PM
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Okay, this is a very cool thread. Nicely done so far. I will be watching for the rest of the build. This is creativity at its best. Great work.
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post #8 of 27 Old 04-14-2017, 11:17 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikechell View Post
That is awesome! It's a very interesting way to build a rock.

Back in my early life, I built sets for High school plays for a couple of years. One time, we had to build boulders similar to yours. They had to be strong enough for an actor to stand on.
I did the central support structure similar to yours, but the "rock" look, we did with chicken wire and paper mache.
Thanks, Mike! We went to Lowe's thinking I was going to get chicken wire but the smallest roll they have would make a dozen or more rocks so I passed on that and went this route. I do believe an actor could stand on this one just like a real boulder - it's pretty stout.

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post #9 of 27 Old 04-14-2017, 11:19 PM Thread Starter
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Okay, this is a very cool thread. Nicely done so far. I will be watching for the rest of the build. This is creativity at its best. Great work.
Thanks, Ken! The creativity likely comes from not researching how to do this - I just plowed in and thought the entire time that maybe I should have looked some of this up. Oh, well... LOL!
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post #10 of 27 Old 04-15-2017, 12:28 AM Thread Starter
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Ok, on to the cross itself! The design I'm using for this is monocoque with bulkheads, similar to an airplane fuselage or wing, even some race cars. This construction is very light weight but also very strong, especially with the skin attached. In this case the skin is Walnut rather than aluminum.

To make the frame rails we cut some 2x4's down but you talk about some wood moving when it was cut - wow! How can a 2x4 be so straight to start with but when you rip it into smaller pieces be sooooo bent and twisted??!!

Here's what most of it looked like after cutting (these were two of the best in the group) -


Anyway, we cut the 2x4's into about 6 strips each and set them aside. I figured they'd be better off in a couple of days and then I'd trim them down even more. In order to build the monocoque frame I needed bulkheads so about 15 minutes with Fusion 360 and I had G-code for the CNC to cut 9 identical pieces out of 1/2" MDF.


The Walnut and Curly Maple pieces were very nice and long but not long enough to go all the way to the bottom of the support inside the rock. That meant I needed a support so I grabbed some scrap pieces and two of the bulkheads to make this support. It comes to about 2" below the top of the rock where the better woods will attach. There wasn't any sense in wasting the good wood to go all the way down to the support anyway.


It was time to dry fit and test the layout with the frame rails and bulkheads along with the Walnut side panels. I'm grateful to have a nice flat surface with the table saw and extension but nearly every time I use it for that I end up taking stuff down and setting it up dozens of times so I can use the table saw. But, as I said, I'm grateful for what I have!


In order to test the stand and beginnings of the cross structure we have to use the kitchen where the ceilings are 10' high. The cross stands 9' high and the ceiling in our shop (two car garage) is only 8' high.


One thing I made sure to do is mark every piece as to cutting instructions. This wood was expensive and I don't really have backup pieces in the event of a mental error or other mishap. So every piece is marked 'cut side', groove width and location, 'don't cut this side', etc. And the pieces that are to be continuous up the sides, back, front are all marked so that as we worked them the orientation would remain correct. The Walnut is unsteamed and I wanted to take advantage of the sapwood along with some of the blemishes, knots, etc. so I had to be careful to always be working the correct side.


At this point I needed the ripped 2x4 pieces cut into smaller strips and as I expected they were much easier to keep straight now that they're smaller.


As I looked at the strips and saw that each had some small degree of bow I picked some that I could flip and mount opposing each other to pre-tension the frame and bulkheads. So these that look so bowed here will oppose each other on the bulkheads and should increase the strength. Each piece is glued to the bulkhead with Titebond and then I used 23 gauge pin nails to secure each contact spot.


Making certain the bulkheads are square to the frame rails -


Side panels cut and fitted -


Back panel test fit (the Curly Maple side will be the show side most of the time so I've just grown accustomed to calling that the front and the Walnut side is the back) -


I didn't take any photos of the setup for cutting the grooves but that was on a router table with 1/4" Freud two flute bit and a fence. Here's a close up of the Walnut back panel and a side -


Here's a close up of the intersection joints (this bulkhead isn't glued at this point) -


Testing the layout of the cross beam pieces -


Building the cross bar frame -


And that's all for tonight; I've been at this since about 8 this morning and it's after 11 pm. I'll hit it hard tomorrow and hopefully get it completed to take up to the church. I may end up taking it without a finish and then bring it back home to shoot this coming week - we'll see.

Nite, folks!
David

PS - thanks for following along!
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post #11 of 27 Old 04-15-2017, 09:01 AM
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This is pretty interesting stuff! Thanks for posting! I assume today will be lots of work!
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post #12 of 27 Old 04-15-2017, 04:32 PM
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Looking good. Maybe a little over engineered, but better that than the opposite.
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post #13 of 27 Old 04-15-2017, 10:59 PM Thread Starter
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Started early this morning, Saturday, and worked on the cross all day. Come to think of it, that's what I've done several dozen days. When this is complete I won't know what to work on! Oh, wait, I have a backlog of work; that moment didn't last long - LOL!

We left off at the cross bar frame being built so here it is testing it for square and level -


Verifying distance for cross beam spacing -


It was then time to cut the bulkheads for the cross beam -


Since I don't usually cut boards longer than 18" or so I rarely need an outfeed table. But this called for one since Sandy wasn't home to be a board catcher for me. So this piece of Walnut made a great temporary outfeed table.


Here's the cross beam intersection frame work -


Testing the fit on the cross pieces -


Double checking the orientation of the Curly Maple here, I wanted to make certain the mineral streak wasn't at the miter joint -


Here's a closeup of the mineral streak -


This is a closeup of the intersection frame -


Probably one of the more difficult cuts on this is the mitered center section of the Curly Maple. Several times I considered changing that to make this go quicker and also because I had a little trepidation about cutting it. The vertical piece was only about one inch longer than the required height so if I messed this up it was going to be relatively catastrophic. This is the initial layout in pencil so I could think about it a bit more -


To make the cuts I jointed edges of two Walnut boards and clamped them into place after measuring and quadruple checking the angles and then cut them by hand with my Japanese fret slot saw, 0.023" kerf, which is a no-set profile. This saw is great for cutting the slots for frets on guitars so it just seemed like it would be a good tool to use.


Here are the two cross beam pieces laid on top of each other. You have to look closely but that's really two pieces. The cut was perfect the first time so that was a good thing.


Testing for square -


I finally had to expand the shop into the kitchen because every time I needed to cut something it meant moving the cross off the table saw, putting the fence back on, and putting up all the pieces I was using at the time. Multiply that times about a hundred and it eats up some serious time!


Gluing the first panel into place -

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post #14 of 27 Old 04-15-2017, 11:01 PM Thread Starter
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Working on the miters -


It was time to shut down for a while so I decided an artsy shot needed to happen -


As I said earlier we've been at this all day and a couple of hours ago we transported the cross to the church. I didn't have time to put any finish on the cross but it is lightly sanded. Actually, I doubt most people will notice there's no finish. After church tomorrow I'll bring it back home and take my time putting a good finish on it. Btw, I'll shoot one coat Nitrocellulose sanding sealer and then a coat of gloss followed by a coat of semi-gloss and that should be enough. I might do a light wash coat of very diluted Aniline dye on the Curly Maple to make the figure pop but we'll see...

More tomorrow, I'm singing bass in a quartet and haven't even begun to look at the songs we'll do. I don't think 'building the cross' is going to fly as an excuse for not knowing my part in the two songs - LOL!

Again, thanks for following along!
David

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post #15 of 27 Old 04-16-2017, 03:07 PM Thread Starter
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Happy Easter everyone!!

The cross is on the platform and was well received even though it doesn't have a finish on it yet, but I'll go back to get it later this evening and get the finish completed.

I couldn't be happier with the miter cuts, especially given all the variables with this build. The Curly Maple on the cross beam is thinner than the vertical beam but I'll take care of that later. For now I'm holding them at the same plane so shadows don't make it look off -


This shot is a bit further away and you can see the shadow gives the illusion there's a gap when in fact the miter is just as tight as the previous shot. And I don't think I mentioned it but all of these panels, front and back, will remain floating. In this manner they'll be free to expand and contract as seasonal changes occur and hopefully they won't split or crack over time.


Curly Maple side -


Walnut side -


MDF end caps - nice touch, right?! LOL!


Gluing the Walnut end caps onto the MDF -


Different view -


With the end caps taped in place and the cross basically finished it was time to do the hardest part - transportation to the church. It normally takes us about 8 minutes to drive to church but for this trip I took a slightly longer and less traveled route; it took 22 minutes. I got my son (sunglasses) and a friend of his to assist in the move. I think when we bring it back later today we'll do it differently. A friend has a truck with a longer bed so we'll lay it down on pads to transport. That way I can leave the rock at church, too.


This turned out to be the wrong spot but at least it's at the church!


This is from about the first row of pews -


And this is where it ended up for the Easter service today; we were practicing and getting mic checks for our quartet song this morning. I'm the only one dressed comfortably...


Since this is a gift to our church I inscribed the base with a little scripture and timeframe but hidden where it won't be seen and so it won't be about us. This piece is taped in place on the photo but has since been screwed in place. This is one really nice benefit to having the CNC, doing little things like this to personalize and augment a project. I wasn't going to tell anyone it was there simply because I didn't want this build to be about us but our Pastor helped move it before we got to church this morning and the first thing he said was that the cross is awesome and he loves the inscription. I guess we did ok, then.


And a little lagniappe for you, this is the first Sunday we've had a Traditional Service followed by a New Worship Experience second service so here are two shots from similar distances -




I'll post more later this week after the finish is on and we'll see how much difference it makes. There is probably enough video of the project to do a YouTube upload so I'll look at doing that, as well, and will post that here if/when I do it.

Thanks so much for following along and I truly hope you enjoyed the ride!
David

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post #16 of 27 Old 04-16-2017, 07:39 PM Thread Starter
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Minor update - picked the cross up from the church to bring home for finishing but chose a much better transportation method this time. A friend has an older Tundra and the bed is a good bit larger than our Tacoma so the cross fit in the back with no problem.

Loaded up and ready to go -


Almost home -


I'll start the prep work tonight for finishing and give it a few days to cure, then haul it back to the church.

David

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post #17 of 27 Old 04-16-2017, 10:57 PM
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David, that's beautiful. I've built several in my younger days most being oak BUT my nitch was most were wood pegged together and were oak with hand routered designs.

Not to hi-jack....These are the only pics I have and are from the same church build. There's nothing like building things to praise and honor the Lord with. Glory to His Name!!

Curly Maple and Walnut cross - build thread-pegged-cross-0728122032.jpg

Curly Maple and Walnut cross - build thread-cross-0728122036b.jpg

Curly Maple and Walnut cross - build thread-pegged-cross-0728122030.jpg

Curly Maple and Walnut cross - build thread-communion-table-0728122035.jpg

Curly Maple and Walnut cross - build thread-communion-table-0728122035a.jpg
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post #18 of 27 Old 04-16-2017, 11:24 PM Thread Starter
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Very nice, Tim! And I agree - it is an honor to build for Him! Those look nice, btw.

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post #19 of 27 Old 04-17-2017, 11:21 PM Thread Starter
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One detail I didn't get to last week when I was pushing so hard to have this ready for Easter is to make certain the Curly Maple pieces remain in the same plane on the front. As I mentioned earlier, the cross beam pieces are thinner than the vertical pieces (just the way I resawed them and for no particular reason). And because it will appear there is a gap if one piece is proud of an adjacent piece I want them in the same plane. So what I came up with is to make them equal on the back side by putting a Walnut spacer to make up the difference - 0.080" - and then add some stock so I can cut biscuit slots to ensure alignment.

Pictures will help, I know -

You can see here that the cross beam pieces of Curly Maple are thinner than the vertical pieces -


And it's really evident here -


So I cut some pieces of Walnut to make up the difference and glued them onto the Curly Maple. I made certain they were back from the edge of the miter joint so they don't interfere with the miter -


Right now the cross frame is in the family room so I took the Curly Maple cross beam pieces and tested them to make certain the new thickness with the Walnut didn't interfere with sliding them into place.


I then cut 4 more pieces that will be cut for size 0 biscuits and these pieces will be glued into place once the cross is assembled. I can't put them on now or the Curly Maple wouldn't slide past the bulkheads. Again, they are spaced a bit away from the edge of the miter so they won't interfere with that joint. Also, I only have a 4" x 5" area for this additional stock so that's the overall dimension of the pieces -


So now all 4 Walnut pieces are cut for biscuits and I'll glue them on when I begin assembling the cross for the final time. I won't glue the biscuits, though, but will allow them to float in their respective slots. I'm only relying on them to keep the show side of the Curly Maple flat with all 4 pieces rather than serving to further secure the miter (I hope that makes sense) -


Today I did these pieces for leveling the miter and spent a couple of hours sanding. I have a little more sanding to do and then I'll begin spraying sealer.

More updates later -
David

Again, thanks for following along and reading! And thank you to those who only look at the pictures - LOL!

David

Nothing to do with woodworking at all, just our music at church (I'm the guy with the Koa Takamine) - Airline Baptist BC Songs
Romans 3:23
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post #20 of 27 Old 04-18-2017, 01:54 AM
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Well done. Thank you for all the pictures.
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