In my first instructable I will be showing the steps to produce a professional grade trophy or plaque. The plaque in this instruction is one I made for a military members going away gift. You will need the following tools/items.
- Saw- Table saw or Miter saw
- Safety Glasses and general PPE
- Drill press highly recommended
- Drill bits 1/8, 1/4, 1/2
- Forstner bit
- Name Plate
Step 1: Wood Selection and Size
Select a wood with a grain that fits what you are making. If you are going to stain or cover much of the wood like we are doing in this project an exotic wood doesn't fit the need. The wood I'm using is Poplar. It is easy to work with and easy to stain. Make sure to select a good piece with no green grain in it. Much poplar wood has a green tint to it. Select one that has a grey or tan tone.
Determine if you want a desk top or a hanging plaque. This one will be a desk top.
Size of the wood matters too. Too big has a lot of empty space and too small looks cluttered and harder to place your items. Place your items on the wood to determine what size you need. Once the size is selected cut down to that size with a miter saw or a table saw.
Step 2: Route
I used a Ogee bit in the router table to edge the plaque. Carefully route. Research your wood on how to route. Some woods have a tendency to pull out the grain or burn the edges. look up your wood to see the best way to route. On Poplar, go slow and counter clock wise with multiple passes until you reach your final depth.
Step 3: Name Wedge and Pen Holes
This plaque has a name plate wedge and will double as a pin holder. I glued 3 pieces of wood together. At this point go ahead and trim up the edges from where you glued. Now with a rectangle block cut your angle for the name plate. This angle will vary on the size of plaque and if you leave the 3/4in on top for the pens. I cut mine at about 40 degrees.
If you want to make a pen holder make sure you leave about 3/4in on top. This is where we will drill the pens holes.
Find the center of the top of the wedge to place the pen holes and mark your spots to drill. Place as many holes as you want. Drill with 1/2in bit at a depth of about 2 inches.
Step 4: Coin Placement
Coins are a big piece of history for all military members and are apart of almost all military plaques. Start by finding the center of the plaque. Place the name block on the center line and in the location it will be mounted. Mark all of its edges with a pencil. Measure from the side edge of the name wedge and the edge of the plaque and place a mark. Now find the center of the name wedge. the point where those 2 marks intersect is the center of the coin. Use your forstner bit that is the same size of your coin to countersink the coins.
One of my coins had a banner at the bottom. I cut this out by cutting the circle with the forstner bit then marking the banner. I then used my 1/4in chisel and cut out the circle. Most coins are just circles but in this case this is the coin I wanted to use.
Now mount the name wedge. I use screws and countersink them through the bottom. Predrill from the bottom and clamp in place. Use the pencil marks from previous steps to keep you straight.
Step 5: Wing/Fin/Flag Placement
On this plaque I was able to get a wing to mount. I had to drill the titanium wing to place pins under it to hold it in place. Easy way to do this is to sandwich it with wood and clamps to it will stay upright. Drill 1/8 holes and epoxy/super glue pins in place.
After the pins are dry find the placement on the plaque and predrill the 1/8 holes.
While we are here drilling the final stages get the flag ready. This flag I have ironed, starched, glued to hide the plastic pole, and gold leaved the top to make it gold. This plaque I have the flag tilted to match the angle of the wing.
I know not every one will be able to get munitions items like this but I have seen many items placed on plaques. Examples would be: knives, brass bullet casings, and even gun barrels
Step 6: Prep/Stain
Prep for staining. Using 300 grit sandpaper hand sand the edges and any imperfections. Make sure any pencil marks are removed. Some can be removed with the eraser. You can use rougher sandpaper as long as you work back up to 300 to remove scratches.
Stain your wood. I used Minwax PolyShades Pecan spray stain and Minwax PreStain. Apply the PreStain with a lint free rag or a brush for stains and let dry for about 10 minuets. The PreStain helps keep your outcome uniform and keeps the saturation even across the end grain. End grain has a tendency to over absorb and have a different color darker than the rest of the plaque. After PreSatin has dried apply a very light cote of stain and wait till dry. After dry apply another coat and repeat until color is desired is reached.
Step 7: Finishing
Glue on the Wing in to the holes we drilled earlier and the flag. Glue in the coins. Here if you drilled the coin holes to deep use hot glue to mount them and press in until they are level. You can get a name plate from your local trophy store for about $15.
Thanks for reading,