This year I decided to make each of my daughters an ornament for Christmas. The other two will have to be a different instructable since they are purely metal work. This one is for my beautiful daughter Isabella living in Germany.
I made it out of cherry wood veneer, aluminum sheet, and metal banding. I had all these materials as scrap from another project I have been working on. I hadn't planned on making this instructable so I didn't document the build but I did all the steps using paper and documented that so you could see exactly what I did.
The design I made is fairly basic and easy to make. You could easily modify this pattern to be snowflakes, celtic knots or whatever strikes your fancy. I chose the pattern because my other 2 daughters have flowers in their names and I made their ornaments of those. This one which takes its basic design from Hex Signs of the Pennsylvania Dutch. It seemed a good choice for the link to Germany and the region of part of her families origin as well as a bit of tongue in cheek from our Dutch heritage. Oh and I think it looks nice ;)
Step 1: Tools and Materials
The tools and materials you will need are fairly minimal.
- A compass (of course you could hand draw something but for this pattern this is what we use)
- Tin snips (I show the big honk'n monsters I have but if you have smaller by all means use those)
- Something to cut the veneer. I show a wood carving tool which I like but you can use an exacto and may prefer it. I personally like the much stiffer blade on my wood carver.
- Flat jawed flat head pliers. (You could use others but they will likely pinch or scratch etc)
- Glue gun (You could use epoxy or something else just something that is going to easily bond wood and metal together)
- Wood veneer I used cherry wood. (You could use basswood or balsa from a hobby store but I like the grain and color of the cherry wood and had scrap from another project on hand)
- Aluminum sheet this is thin gauge stuff used for embossing it's not the cheap foil but it's not plate (you could use another metal in fact I started with copper but didn't like the color combination you might also be able to use an aluminum can or even use aluminum foil if you aren't worried about durability)
- Metal banding. (I had this laying around you can get it at hobby stores or jewelry making supply shops)
Step 2: Draw the Pattern and Cut Your Wood
The first step is to make your pattern. As I mentioned I didn't document the making of this so I replicated it using paper. I drew this pattern straight on my wood.
- Use your compass to make a large outer circle with your compass as large as you want the ornament.
- Leaving your compass at the same setting put the point on the edge of the circle and draw an arc from one edge of the circle to the other.
- Repeat step 2 placing compass point on the intersection one of the lines you just made and the outer circle. Do this until you have the flower pattern finished..
- Close your compass up a small amount with the point in the center where you had it for the first circle. (You could do this before step 2 but if you have a cheap compass like mine getting it back exactly where you had it for the outer circle is tougher than doing it this way)
- Next make the compass smaller again to the position of the outer edge of the inner ring. (don't make this too close to the center or you will be cussing trying to work the metal in there later give yourself some space)
- Close the compass a little bit again and draw another circle.
- Now cut your pattern out. Take it slow and steady. Don't push to hard keep your blade in control so you don't slip. You don't need to cut all the way through on the first pass. For small pieces like this I like to use a notebook or something to cut on so I don't mar up my poor desk anymore than it already is and it helps to move the notebook sometimes.
Step 3: Cutting and Forming the Aluminum
Now we should have our wood pattern cut out and now we need to add our aluminum ring. We will be cutting out 3 pieces to do this so repeat this process for each section.
- Place your wood down with the specific section you will be working on and mark the outline like the first image. Again I am doing this with paper you should be doing this on a piece of aluminum.
- Trim your piece as shown in pictures 2 and 3. Try to keep a mental image of what you are doing here. The "V"'s cut in the top and bottom are to allow the metal to bend without crimping. The center tabs are for folding over themselves on the back side of the piece that will be above the wood.
- Fold the center tabs under the piece as shown in picture 4. That piece will go "over" the flower blade.
- Place the piece onto your wood as shown in picture 5.
- Now with your fingers and the pliers work to pull the tabs over the wood to the back side. Be careful with this don't be heavy handed just pull and bend as needed.
- Finally using your flat pliers to pinch it all down and into place again being careful not to crimp or scrap the metal.
Step 4: Adding the Banding.
This part was a bit tricky. Originally I wanted the ornament to be two sided. I quickly abandoned that idea after playing what you might describe as "whack a mole" when trying to get the banding formed and a good way to fasten it in place. You pull her and wood bends and banding slips there, go back form that up and... you get the idea. So in the end I went with making it one sided as the glue on the back side is sloppy and unsightly. It had the added bonus of letting me do the metal work easier too since I only had to do one side (I added the metal work after the banding). So I will describe what I did you could do it different. One idea would be using thread or wire as a decorative element to hold it in place, you could find some other material that was easier to put a bend in and make a ridge to set it. Anyway here is what i did.
- Using the cut out pieces of veneer as shims set the pattern on top. (Gives you some elevation so the pattern is centered up on the banding) This could be skipped if you want to glue the back side and have the pattern flush with the banding.
- Take some scrap aluminum or some wire or whatever and use it to hold the banding to the pattern as you work the banding around the pattern.
- Use hot glue and start going around the edge of the back side removing the ties as you go.
- Finally make a loop at the top with the banding and pull the other side up along it. (You can see in some of the intro pictures)
- Bind the 2 pieces of banding together with wire or thread or whatever looks good to you (not shown yet as gf has asked to do this part and is not yet complete)
Step 5: Additional Thoughts
I didn't stain or seal the ornament. You may want to. I didn't sand mine again you may want to. As mentioned another alternative to attach the banding would be wire or thread. The top portion of the hanger on mine will be bound together with thread (the gf is working on that part for all of them as she loves to knit and such and was not finished when I started this). Lots of possibilities here. Hope you liked it. Please let me know if you make one. If I entered a contest (don't know if I will or not) please throw me a vote.
Happy Holidays to all of you and hope one of these is found decorating your home.