Introduction: Fallen Warrior Symbol / Battlefield Cross / Memorial Day Symbol

Picture of Fallen Warrior Symbol / Battlefield Cross / Memorial Day Symbol

My fraternity, Sigma Alpha Mu, is honoring the 95 Brothers that have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country since our inception in 1909. In doing so, one of my fellow Sammy brothers asked me to create a custom Fallen Warrior Symbol that can be easily copied and recreated so that other chapters that also wish to honor the memory of those that have come and gone before us can do so with their own symbols.

Though we are mindful of all those men and women that have come before us in service to our great nation, on this upcoming memorial day we will be highlighting the deeds of our Brothers.

What is a Fallen Warrior Symbol:

The helmet and identification tags signify the dead soldier. The inverted rifle with bayonet signals a time for prayer, a break in the action to pay tribute to our comrade. The combat boots represent the final march of the last battle.

Step 1: Safety First!

Picture of Safety First!

When working with power tools n dangerous bits-n-pieces take to heart you've only got 2 hands, eyes, ears, and don't want to lose them over a little construction project.

Gloves, goggles, breather/mask, and as the Navy taught us to say "mickey mouse ears" (hearing protection) helps when you're close up to power tools trying to get precise cuts.

Step 2: Find a Picture, Something to Work From

Picture of Find a Picture, Something to Work From

I just Google imaged until I found a design easy enough to copy.

Schematics are easy enough to find online and I wanted the dimensions to be realistic. Though I've stood countless watches, I never saw the need before to bring a ruler to get the dimensions of the guns I was issued.

The official length of the M-16 is 40 inches, so get a piece of wood you like that's at least that long, though I like to have a little clearance on every side. 3/4 " thick is a good depth on the wood, though it depends entirely on how realistic you want the final symbol to look.

I took it upon myself to break the gun down into barrel, stock, butt, etc to be able to divide the wood into easier sketchable sections. Feel free to copy my dimensions, or wing it on your own. Also you could print off a life size schematic and use stencil paper to trace a more exact drawing.

Step 3: Cut That Out! (get It? Its Like a Pun, But Also Not Really)

Picture of Cut That Out! (get It? Its Like a Pun, But Also Not Really)

Jigsaw = one of my bestest most awesome tools.

Go SLOW, take your time, get extra lights on your project so you can clearly see the lines.

Remember you can make it smaller but if you cut too much off, you might have to start over.

Step 4: Trigger and Handle Cuts

Picture of Trigger and Handle Cuts

For starting these out I used a drill bit called Forstner bits:

Invented by Benjamin Forstner in 1874. He designed this drill bit specifically for this type of cut! Back when all guns had wooden bodies, they needed a drill bit that could cut flawless holes.

If you want to learn more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Forstner

Quite an interesting guy.

Anyway, take your desired Forstner bit and drill away. I bought a set of them for about $50, comes with 10mm all the way up to 2".

So you'll want to drill 2 holes on either side of the trigger area, then just cut out the difference between the two with your jigsaw. Easy-peasy-Japanesey!

Step 5: My Mistake?

Picture of My Mistake?

The wood I started out with wasn't tall enough to get the grip or magazine. I cut out a separate piece and glued it on, however don't follow my lead, just pick a different piece of wood as you'll see in my 2.0 gun.

Step 6: Bigger Wood = 2.0

Picture of Bigger Wood = 2.0

I used the 1.0 to trace out the 2.0 version.

Remember to include the handle and magazine in the second version.

The last picture shows the original placed on top of the new one.

Step 7: Drilling the Holes......again

Picture of Drilling the Holes......again

Forstner anyone?

Step 8: Gun Complete, Time for the Stand.

Picture of Gun Complete, Time for the Stand.

Note - Though the original method for having the gun stand upright is having a bayonet attached to the front, and jamming it into the ground. Since I'm not attaching said bayonet, the front 4 inches of the barrel will have to do. Hence the box with the hole cut in the middle as you'll see in the next few steps.

First measure the size of the boots you'll be using, then give a couple inches extra clearance.

My boots were about 11" long, so I made my box 14" x 14". Remember, you only need to cut the first 2 x 4's to the length of 14", then when placing the other ones between the 14"s you have to under-compensate for the width of the 2 x 4's.

I like to countersink screws, which involves first drilling the hole for the screw, then using the smallest Forstner bit to drill a hole big enough to hide the screw entirely, then drill the screw in.

Step 9: Top That Box

Picture of Top That Box

Umm should I explain this step?

Take wood, trace square on wood, cut square, screw on square, done.

Step 10: Cutting the Hole / Making It Stand.

Picture of Cutting the Hole / Making It Stand.

NOTE - Find the exact center of the stand, then drill the hole so that the barrel jussssst doesn't fit by a little bit. You are going to sand down 4 inches on the barrel ever so slightly until the barrel fits snugly into the hole. I used my Dremel for this, but feel free to use a belt sander, block sander, etc. Go little by little then try it out, then take off some more, then try again.

With the box on the floor you want the barrel of the gun to go in the hole and just barely touch the ground or have just a weency bit of clearance.

Next take some more spare 2x4 and cut out a piece that (with a little rubber mallet TLC) fits in between the 2 sides of the bottom as shown int he picture. Find the exact center of the 2x4 on the bottom and cut the same sized hole as is on top. This will provide a lot of stability for the gun when it's standing.

Step 11: Painting.

Picture of Painting.

I used Valspar flat black (it's what I had laying around, and when is a college kid not on a budget)

They have some metallic spray paints at Lowe's, but this works for now.

Brush or roller its up to you. I used a couple zip ties and hooked it to a light fixture to hang out and dry.

Step 12: Just Add Boots, Dog Tags and a Helmet.

Picture of Just Add Boots, Dog Tags and a Helmet.

Step 13: Version 2.0 Better Wood, Better Stand, Better Braces

Picture of Version 2.0   Better Wood, Better Stand, Better Braces

The 1.0 version broke because a volunteer picked the entire thing up by the stock while the "gun" was still in the base therefore putting too much stress on the barrel breaking it clean off while still inside the base.

Version 2.0 is made with top choice oak instead of particle board. There are 6 braces instead of 3. I used high gloss paint instead of flat. The stand now includes a clip for screws, a carry handle and latch to hold it closed, as well as a polished brass hinge. In other words, I built the first one with what I had, versus this one I went shopping for what would be perfect.

Step 14: What You'll Need:

Picture of What You'll Need:

Awesome drill (doesn't have to be DeWalt.

I bought a new jigsaw for this project because my last one wasn't variable speed and I wanted to make the cuts perfect.

New jigsaw blades for detailed woodwork.

Brushes and sponges for paint application.

Braces (I used five 4" nickle plated and one 3" nickle plated with 3/4" Dichromate screws)

The base and gun are made of top choice oak, one solid piece.

The sides of the base are from a 2x4.

Safety first = goggles, gloves and mickey mouse headphones.

A forstner bit for the circle cuts (see 1.0 steps for "forstner history lesson")

As always a pen/marker and C-clamps.

Step 15: The Gun

Picture of The Gun

The only difference between this one and the first version is the wood. Dimensions remain the same so I just traced the original one.

The brackets are also different as I used more this time to "brace" it up.

Labeling them somehow helps when it comes to placing them since 5 of them are the same, but that's your choice.

PS - if you're going to paint the brackets, you might have to steel wool the surfaces to get the paint to stick.

Step 16: Latch, Handle, and Hinge

Picture of Latch, Handle, and Hinge

I was just messing around with the first picture and the door handle :)

I took the latch off of a cigar box since the store didn't have any that would suit my needs for this project. I went shopping too late to hit up the hobby shop, but y'all have plenty of time so go for it and let me know what you find.

Assembling video:

Disassembling video:

Comments

BenK94 (author)2016-06-01

Navy, you really out did yourself this year. The fallen warrior symbol you created drew the attention of 1000s at Arlington National Cemetery over Memorial Day Weekend. The pictures attached show what the Symbol looked like on the first day, the last day, and the kind of photos people took with it.

What was really amazing was the different things people left on the symbol as an offering of respect. People left, flags, flowers, coins, chocolate, caramel chews, ribbons, and other little nick naks that showed that someone had been there who cared.

Your creation honors everything the symbol stands for. On behalf of the Mindful Memorial Foundation Thank You!

greapre (author)2015-09-06

You did a great job, thank you for sharing.

blanky5452 (author)2015-03-07

Any questions, comments, concerns?

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Bio: On the hunt for my proverbial "post-college-job", teaching Karate, building a better world one great Instructable at a time!
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