Well, it is crazy to say that my fourth year is pretty much at its end with only a few more loose ends to tie up! That being said, here is another blog post about my ECMP 355 learning project…and lets just say, this one had to be done in a somewhat timely fashion.

After contemplating what my next shading with stain project should be, I came to the conclusion that it was about time that I fulfill a request from a few weeks ago.  After I finished one of my earlier projects, which I wrote about in It Ain’t Gonna Grain No More, it was requested that I combine my woodworking skills with my newly acquired shading with stain skills to make a clock. So as you probably guessed, that is exactly what I did!

Thinking back to when I was doing that project, I remembered that one of my favorite features of that piece was the live edge – the bark was still intact. I would say that that was my starting point for this project. And with the clock as the final product in mind, I figured it would only be appropriate to have it be circular in shape. Then it hit me – I might as well help myself to one of those pieces of wood in my brother’s shop that is basically a slice of tree trunk…I mean after all, they have probably been sitting there for like twenty years and are covered in dust!


As you can see, it really is covered in dust and even worse, the surface was pretty rough from when it was originally cut. Of course this can only mean one thing – time to break out the power tools! So off to Ken’s I went!

Originally, we thought that an orbital sander with some 60 grit sandpaper would work well enough to smooth it out. However, after fifteen minutes, we knew it was time to bring out the big guns…the thickness planer!

This totally was the answer, but as the GIF image above illustrates, it took MANY passes through the planer to get the entire surface smooth. The reason for this is because when you put it through each time, you need to skim a little off the top with every pass. This means starting at the highest point in the piece and working your way down until you are planing the entire surface; thus, getting it entirely flat. This is especially crucial when working with a piece this wide. If you try to cut too much at once, things start to break!

Once that was all said and done, it was time to put a hole in the back where the clock piece would sit. So out came the router – another heavy duty power tool! This too, was not a one-cut process either. For this project, we had to build a template that would act as a guide for the router. This ensured that I cut in the exact same place each time I removed the router to increase the depth it was set to cut at. It also keeps the router from wondering as I cut.

Router Template.jpg
The center brass insert rides inside the square cutout.

Now that I knew I had a block of wood that was worthy of telling time, it was time to start the shading with stain process. My design for this project was pretty straight forward, as were the techniques I used. However, my creative challenge this time was to incorporate some of the features in the wood into my design.

The ways that I went about doing this happened in three ways. The first two ways were rather simple. I used the pith/heartwood Blotchas the sun and the rings (grain) in the wood to look like waves and rays of sunlight. The third thing that I did, needed to happen for a somewhat different reason.

In pretty much the center of the piece of wood, there was a big ugly blotch where the wood had once grown inconsistently. Not good! No matter how many times we put it through the planer or tried to sand it out, it did not want to disappear. But with a lot of determination and some wise advice, I set out to make it right!

~ What makes a craftsman a true craftsman is his ability to turn a flaw into a feature. ~ 

Fortunately, I would say that it turned out not too bad AND it even keeps time!18012617_10212005324784395_2086003039_o.jpg

Featured Image Photo Credit: g23armstrong Flickr via Compfight cc