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.