Thursday, July 21, 2011

Balancing Wooden Wine Holders - Building Process

As I mentioned last week, Saturday I went to help my bride-to-be friend Holly with her DIY bridesmaids’ gifts: balancing wine bottle holders! I got there at 11 and we started setting everything up: putting a new blade on the bandsaw, getting the planer out of the box, deciding on a plan… and the plan was: “oh, we can whip these out in no time!”  Too bad whenever you think a project won’t take long, it always ends up taking 12 times as long as you thought.  So while I don’t have any pictures of the finished product yet, I do have some how-to steps for starting the project.  

Holly got a 3” thick piece of mahogany.  We borrowed our friend Rachel’s “baby bandsaw” and we were pretty worried about having to cut through such a thick piece of wood with the baby bandsaw, and Holly wanted to use the planer she got for Christmas, so we planed the wood down to about 2.5”.  I had never used a planer, and it was really cool.  You slide the wood through and it shaves 1/16 of an inch off the top of the wood every time it goes through, and makes a huge pile of wood shavings (which reminded me of this regretsy post about "sawdust to throw at weddings"; we could have totally made some money, or thrown them on the ground at holly’s wedding this weekend! Haha).

So, then we cut the huge piece of mahogany into smaller sections to make them easier to maneuver, and used Super 77 spray adhesive to attach the printed out pattern to the wood.  You can download the pattern for the balancing wine holders here.  Ned (Holly’s fiancĂ©) used a holesaw drill bit to drill the hole first (so we had a flat surface to drill the hole instead of trying to drill on a rounded surface after cutting the piece out.) 

Holly cut out the pieces with the bandsaw, then we started trying to sand them.  By hand.  It. Was. Awful.  And it also made us realize we would never get them done if we didn’t have some power tools.   

So we busted out a hand sander… the kind that vibrates and makes your hand feel like it is going to fall off after you’ve held onto it for 5 minutes… and started using that, and it worked a lot better.  But not good enough.  So that warranted a trip to Home Depot for a belt sander.   If you’ve never used a belt sander, those bad boys are a little scary.  My first experience with a belt sander was when we were making shapes out of foam in college as an intro to model making, and if you weren’t careful, the sander would rip the foam out of your hands and throw it across the room.  The belt sander worked pretty well, and we got about 4 wine holders sanded with the 80 grit sandpaper, and they were looking good! Too bad you then had to sand them with 100 grit, then 150, then 200, and possibly even finer grit than that, before they can be oiled.  When sanding something, you start with a rougher paper to get out the big imperfections, then you have to keep going smoother to get your wood smoother.  It’s a long, drawn out, tedious process, and that’s why projects always take 12 times longer than you think they will!
I left at about 6:30 and that was the status of the project.  The wedding is Sunday and Holly still doesn’t have them finished, so hopefully she’ll be able to find some time to work on them this week and get them done by the wedding! I’ll post finished pics if I can get them!

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