Saw a couple of other examples of wooden wall art and decided to have a go at trying to make my own. I used cherry and curly maple for this project.
Step 1: Milling Up the Lumber
I had some really old cherry laying around that I wanted to use for a special project. Well, this was that project. It's hanging in my living room for everyone to see, so this was the perfect time to use it. For the contrasting woods I used curly maple. I milled the lumber up to the following dimensions:
Cherry Panels (QTY 3):
Curly Maple (QTY 3):
Step 2: Cut Out the Template
I found a tree vector image on freepik to use for this project. Check out the video below on how to open the image, resize and and print it to scale using photoshop.
After you print the template out, tape it together at the lines on each of the pages and cut away the excess paper. Line the paper up on the maple and position it how you think it looks best and use wide, clear masking tape to tape the template to the maple. Head on over to the bandsaw to cut the templates out of the maple. If you don't have a bandsaw, you can use a jigsaw.
Step 3: Cut the Templates Out
Over at the bandsaw, cut the templates out of the maple. This part is all about personal choice. You can leave in as many branches as you want, or you can do what I did and stick to the larger branches while at the bandsaw. I didn't ignore all small branches, but keep in mind that the more smaller branches you cut out, the harder it will be to sand in between them. Take a step back and think it through.
Step 4: Sand in Between the Branches
After cutting the templates out, it's time to sand. The bandsaw/jigsaw leaves a rough cut. I used my spindle sander to sand the majority of the branches. For the areas I couldn't reach, I used a 120 grit sanding disc by hand. Don't forget to "break" the edges of the branches with the 120 grit paper.
I then followed up with 220 grit to finish sand the whole piece.
Step 5: Glue the Tree Branch Templates to the Cherry Boards
I used tape to help me keep the boards lined up while glueing them. Take your time and make sure to not move the tree parts when clamping them to the cherry panels. This is crucial for alignment of the panels and branches.
I used quick clamps to clamp the branches down.
Step 6: Finish Time
I used Tried & True varnish oil as the finish. The key here is to wipe on VERY THIN coats.
- Wipe on thin coats of the varnish using a cotton rag and a foam brush for the hard to reach places (like in between the branches). Don't forget to apply a coat to the back of the cherry panels too.
- After a few minutes, come back with a clean cotton rag (not the same rag that you used to apply the finish) and wipe off the excess.
Step 7: Hanging Method
For hanging the panels, I used the french cleat method. In the picture above, the bottom board will be screwed to the wall and the top board in the picture above will be screwed to the back of the panels.
To make the french cleats:
- Tilt your table saw blade to 45 degrees
- Cut a 3 inch board down the middle. This should give you two 1 1/2 inch boards that have a 45 degree edge on one side.