Christmas came around this year and I was still working on the Wooden Sailboat Wall Hanging. I put that project on hold for a bit while I did my version of Christmas Shopping. Over the years my family has expected that I lock myself away in my shop, put a sign on the door (Elf at Work No Admittance) and come up with a unique Christmas present for each of them.
My job was simplified a bit this year as I the kids are all grown and “Gramps” doesn’t have a real shop anymore. I still have one special lady that needed a gift and she said: ” I’d love to have a stand that I can display these special flowers of my mom’s.”
Of course, I couldn’t let that opportunity pass. I came up with a Unique Live Oak Wood Display Stand for her flower arrangement.
In my mind, it would be 8 sided and have Live edges on 4 sides and finished flat milled wood on 4 sides. The live edges and the machined edges would alternate.
I jumped right into the project by looking at the stock that I had available. The live edge Live Oak slabs that I milled in 2017 and 2018 have been drying for a while and have reached a good point to begin working with them. One piece, in particular, has been in an indoor climate controlled storage area for about a year. This was at 8% moisture content. I found my stock!
Cutting to Length
I am working with some very rough stock at this point. I learned when I was doing the Live Edge Wood Slab Coffee Table that the best way to start was with the chainsaw. I lopped off a couple of 18 inch long pieces from one of the live edge slabs and then sat down with my SketchUp program to determine the correct angles and the widths that I needed to cut to have the stock that I needed. Ultimately I settled on 5 1/2 inches wide which would give me a 14 1/4 inch diameter Octagon.
Cutting to Width
Since one edge was rough and the edges and sides weren’t straight, I cut the widths wider than I thought that I would need to make a 14-inch diameter round (actually an Octagon).
I cut 5 pieces from the live edge board and 5 more pieces from one of the Live Oak Slabs that were stacked near where I was working. The slabs were 18 inches wide and 2 inches thick. I estimated that the stock would be thinner for the flat stock so I added a tall fence to my radial arm saw and resawed the 2 inch thick pieces in half after ripping them to their 5 1/2 inch width.
I still had to handsaw the small web between the cuts of the final pass as I couldn’t saw all the way through the 5 1/2 inches with the radial arm saw. The next step was flattening so I wasn’t overly worried about the extra small rib left in the center of these pieces.
I did, however, notice that the radial arm saw wasn’t locking into 90 degrees. This was due to the age of the Radial Arm saw. Apparently, there were a few bearings or guides that are wearing out in this saw. It made it much more difficult to make the precise angle cuts that I needed to make. Fortunately, I caught the errors before they caused a huge variation.
Time for Some Jigs
The first jig I needed was to allow the back side of the live edge pieces to be planed roughly parallel to the live edge.
Having cut these from a round edge, the inside edge is typically not parallel to the outside edge. Some of the edges must be removed to make the edges even.
I started by making a carrier for the various pieces. Just a board really longer than the pieces I’m working on. Next, I arranged each piece on the carrier and adjusted the height of the piece until it was oriented as I needed. I used wedges and hot melt glue to fix everything in place.
When I started to run the pieces through the planer one side was cut more than the other. Eventually, through multiple passes, each piece was leveled and smoothed on the backside.
I noticed that my Radial Arm Saw was not set-up correctly. I have another saw in storage that is much better but for now, I’m working with a saw that isn’t locking into the angles I need.
I ended up cutting the angles for the 10 sided container (more on that in a bit) to 18 degrees so I needed a precise way to set 18 degrees both in the tilt and for miters.
I measured out the angle with my carpenter square and created a piece of 1/4″ plywood with the angles that I will be using. Now I can set the saw against the guide and lock it down with confidence that it is where I needed to put the saw blade.
Router Circle Cutting Jig
For the top of the display stand, I decided to make a 10 sided cover piece to hide the top grain of the side pieces.
I needed to create a round inside edge for the decagon that is 14 inches in diameter.
Typically a router jig is used for this, I didn’t have my old adjustable router jig (It was left behind when I moved) so I needed to put together a quick jig that would allow me to cut a routed circle.
I grabbed the router base off my router and laid out the hole pattern of the base of the router on a piece of 1/4″ Luan Plywood that was at least 8 inches long. I located the center of the router by striking 3 arcs with a compass around these points.
By setting the compass to a radius larger than half the distance between the points (which are 120 degrees apart) I was able to create a line intersecting where the compass points cross. These 3 lines meet in the center of the circle. I measured across the bottom of my router and created a circle at this diameter.
From the center, I measured along one axis line to a point 12 inches away from the center and marked the pivot point for the router. I can select anywhere along the center line for a pivot point. In this case, I made a hole 5 7/8″ from the edge of the router bit.
I connected the edges of both the large circle and the small circle with a straight edge and cut out the shape with my bandsaw. You could also use a jigsaw if you don’t have a bandsaw to make the cut.
Now I just needed to drill and countersink holes for the router mounting screws and a hole in the center for the router bit.
Leveling the Live Edge Pieces
I fastened each of the 5 live edge pieces one at a time into the Planer Sled jig and took several passes through the planer until I had a 5/8″ thick edge on each piece. I still had a rough edge on most of these pieces so once they went through the planer I still had some edge thickness variation. That was fine, I had a plan to deal with the variation later.
I did go need to cut a straight edge on each of these pieces. I cut a straight edge on these pieces with my Circular saw and an edge guide. I remove the smallest amount possible from each piece to just true up one edge. I left them in the Planer sled and clamped the edge guide to the edge of my worktable with spacers under the guide to make everything secure and give me room to run the saw without running into a clamp.
Thicknessing the Flat Pieces
The flat pieces between the live edge pieces needed to be cut from the 8/4 slabs that I have drying in the shop area.
I cut these to a rough width that I could resaw in my Radial Arm saw. I really don’t recommend resawing thin boards on the Radial Arm saw. In order to do this, you need to make multiple passes while the saw blade is adjusted significantly above the table top. It is seriously nerve-wracking to have a 10-inch blade right at eye level.
You also need to install a tall fence to keep everything aligned, use push sticks to keep your hands clear. Just for good measure I also attached a fingerboard that keeps everything tracking straight and against the fence.
Once they were cut in half, a few passes on the planer brought them down to their final 5/8 inch thickness.
When I took stock of what I had done, I noticed that the widths of some of the pieces were not sufficient to create the 8 sided barrel that I had originally intended to create. Some of the boards were considerably thinner than I had calculated for the Octagonal structure. Not a problem. I always prepare more stock than I think I will need. I had 5 pieces with the live edge and 5 pieces that were flat on both sides. Guess I needed to go back to the drawing board and recalculate angles for a 10 sided piece.
This is where the 18-degree angles come in. With 18 degrees cut on each edge, my Octagon became a Decagon.
I trimmed all of the pieces to 16 inches long, calculated a width for the boards of 4 3/4″ on the wide side and 4 3/8″ on the inside of the piece after the 18-degree cuts were removed.
Because everything was irregular on the outside of the piece the only way I could secure everything during glue up was with ratcheting tie downs. I laid them out on my tabletop with some long pieces of painters tape, I used the painter’s tape as a temporary holding clamp while I tightened down the tie straps.
I used Epoxy for the glue as I wanted good holding power when the clamps were removed. I also wanted to have lots of time to get everything aligned the way I wanted. Epoxy seemed like a good solution.
The tape didn’t work out the way I wanted and the whole assembly fell apart a couple of times. I finally used duct tape to hold everything while I aligned the edges and ends, made sure that everything was as tight as possible and tightened the ratcheting straps.
Whew. Everything worked out when the glue set. It was touch and go for a while.
While everything seemed to glue together the way I wanted, there were some edges that didn’t really work well. I decided that I would extend the flat sections of the outside edge onto the live edge pieces. I mostly used a flap sander with a 30 grit sanding disc installed to meld the edges together. Occasionally when there was a lot of stock to remove I started with the arbortech grinder and then refined the edge with the less aggressive sander.
Everything got polished with 100 grit sandpaper in an oscillating sander then finally completed with 220 grit for a nice smooth finish.
A Decagon for the Top
I had a couple of pieces of long 3 inch wide strips of the Live Oak left over from the Wooden Sailboat Wall Hanging. I cut these on the Radial Arm saw to make up a top for the stand. I pulled out the Angle Guide that I made for setting the saw to 18 degrees and adjusted the angle to precisely align with the guide. The Radial Arm Saw needed this extra step as the angle markings on the saw doesn’t line up with reality.
I edge glued all of the parts together after deciding on a pleasing grain pattern. Again, Epoxy was the chosen glue. Wedges and cauls screwed down to the tabletop provided the clamping force that I needed to pull everything together. I glued up 5 pieces at a time and then refined the last two joints with a flat belt sander. This removed all of the variations in the angles. 5 pieces added up to 180 degrees or half of the entire circle. This allowed me to only need to adjust 2 edges by a small amount instead of refining all 10 edges.
Routing the Center
I then installed the Router Circle Jig onto the router and installed the 1/4″ straight bit. Inside the Decagon that I created, I screwed down a scrap piece of wood thicknessed to the same depth as the top. I located the center of the piece by striking arcs from approximately the center of each flat edge in a method similar to that outlined above for the Circle cutting jig.
While the location wasn’t exactly centered, it was close enough that it appears correct.
I made multiple passes with the router each about 1/8″ deeper than the last until I was through the entire material.
I attached the top with more Epoxy. I don’t want this thing to come apart as it ages. I guess we’ll see how it does in the future.
A Cover for the Bottom
I traced the shape of the bottom of the display stand onto a piece of 1/4″ Luan Plywood and cut this out with my bandsaw. A simple glue joint holds everything together. I refined the edges a bit once the glue was dry and touched up the raw edge of the plywood with a dark stain. This creates a nice shadow line at the bottom.
I then added a piece of the cream-colored leather material that I used for the sails on the Wooden Sailboat project. The soft material on the bottom protects whatever this piece is sitting on from scratches.
Finishing the Display Stand
Now that everything is assembled and sanded to a smooth finish, I decided 3 coats of my favorite oil finish would do the trick. Tung oil makes everything sealed from the outside world but breathes so the wood can move as the seasons change or the humidity in its environment change.
I always start the finishing process by wiping down the piece with a moist towel. This raises the grain and allows me to go over the piece with 400 grit sandpaper to start with a very smooth surface. When the piece has dried, I sand it by hand and then go over it with a Tack Cloth to remove any residual dust.
I wipe on a coat of Tung Oil, wait a few minutes to allow the oil to be absorbed then go over the entire surface again. I let this dry overnight.
The next morning I repeat the process. Sand with 400 grit, wipe with a Tack Cloth and recoat the piece again. 3 repetitions is usually enough to bring out a nice sheen.
The Unique Live Oak Wood Display Stand Revealed
Now that the Live Oak Wood Display Stand is done, I have a dilemma. I don’t know what to call this. I have been calling it a Display Stand but it looks a bit like a solid wood basket. It could be the pedestal for a table with just a piece of glass added for a table top. It resembles a finely finished stump from some angles.
I’d love to know what you think I should call this.
In any event, here is what I have created. I hope you like what you see. I know it was a well-received Christmas Gift.
Each side has a unique look to it. On the lower left of the above image, you can see where I leveled out the live edge piece to carry over the flat edge.
This image shows some of the characteristic grain (Ray Flecks) that is present in quarter sawn White Oak.
While this certainly was a challenge to put together, I am quite happy with how it turned out. It will stay a unique piece. Not only can’t I duplicate it exactly in another piece, I won’t take the time required to do this again.
Right now, this display stand is sitting on our hearth. Inside we have placed a small piece of wood to support the Pelican Carving that I did last year.
I’d love to hear your reactions to this piece. Please comment below and tell me what you think and what would you call it.