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This is not for the complete novice, but someone with a moderate amount of knowledge in geometry and power tools and a little carving can make this in about 8 hours.
NOTE: If you do not have wood burning tools, I list a alternative method to the burning in step #7
NOTE #2: You can apply this method to many other types of designs and get a nice finished product!
Tool list :
Wood : I used plywood for this project, but any wood will do, size can vary but the bigger the piece you use, the easier the details will be to replicate, but the more carving you will need to do on the insets, the more void area there will be to cut, ultimately the only really important thing is we will need to plot a grid on the wood of 8x8 squares. My piece was 16 in. X 16 in. and the squares were 2 x 2 inches
Compass (optional but will be used to mark your outer edge, make redrawing a bit easier)
Graph paper (not required but you may want to draw your interpretation of the image on a piece of this first before you draw it on the wood to get your details down, I drew straight to the wood and had to re draw some of the lines to get the proportions right.)
Carpenters square (big and small type helps, but the small type and a good straight edge will do)
Ruler/straight edge (a large carpenters square will likely suffice just fine)
Jigsaw or bandsaw or scrollsaw
Circular saw (optional but will save some time)
Wood file (I mainly used a small circular chainsaw file on this project)
Wood chisels or Dremel or * maybe razor blades if your risky (be extremely careful if you use razor blades)
Sandpaper / palm sander
Black spray paint (optional here if your going to use a wood burner, I didn't use it on this project, I have used it on most projects here after, quality of paint isn't really a issue, I opt for the cheap dollar store stuff)
Cardboard (preferably a little bigger then your piece)
Woodburner / pyrography source or solder gun
(Not required but preferable, I explain a alternative to wood burning in step #7 of this instructable)
Sorry for the lack of extensive photo documentation of some of the steps here. I did not think do to a instructable until after completion, I did however photo document the general steps so that helps a lot, you should be able to get the gist of what I did here.
Step 1: Mapping Out the Image
First step I did was do a Google image search for the symbols or Urnes / Infinity snakes, chose one that I thought would make for easy mapping. Once I found the .JPG image I wanted I overlayed a grid on it, this was a little trickier than it sounds!
Note : Try to find a well centered image if your going to use this process, makes the math and center a lot easier,
you may want to add a even amount of extra "white space" around all the edges.
Find the center of the image, in Microsoft paint it will tell you the horizontal and vertical size of the image, divide the horizontal amount by 2 say it is 600 pixels, your center would be 300 mark a 1x1 pixel on the 300th pixel on the top, bottom connect them with a one pixel line.
Now divide the vertical amount by 2 say it is 600 pixels, your center would be 300 mark a 1x1 pixel on the 300th pixel on the left, right sides connect them with a one pixel line.
now depending on the size of your grid (more lines = more detail guide) work in increments, negations from the center amount, from left to right, top to bottom. For instance I wanted my grid to be 8 X 8 squares so I divided the half amount (300) by 2 (150) then that by 2 (75) so now I know I need marks at 75 pixels, 150 pixels, 300 pixels ect... after you hit the middle line just add your increments of 75.
Similarly if you want you can just divide your overall pixel amount by how ever many squares you want, such as 600pixels % 8 = 75, and work in increments of 75 pixels from left to right, (top to bottom as well if it's squared) I just like to work from the center of things myself.
After I had the my general 8X8 grid down, I outlined the squares sequentially from the middle out to make it easier to not loss track of where I was while drawing this out on the wood, I also went ahead and added my circle around the image to represent the circle / border on / of the piece of wood I would be redrawing it drawing on.
Step 2: Putting a Grid on the Wood
Now place your compass at the center point of the grid, extend it towards the top until it is about the same distance away from the top line as the distance is between the snakes head and top line on the grid of the .JPEG image. Now carefully spin your compass around in a circle a few times to mark the circle on the wood, if it looks off a bit just erase the circle in between the grid marks and make another go at it!
After you get your circle marked out, using your carpenters square go ahead and continue the middle line right over the top and all the way down the back, this will come into play when we drill hanger holes later in the project.
If all went well you should have something similar to what I have pictured above.
Note : I recommend adding a "T" at the top left, a "L" at the bottom left, a "B" at the bottom right, finally a "R" on the top right, to help keep track of which is which during the process. You can kind of see where I did this in photograph on the next step because I was getting a little mushy headed trying to keep up with it all.
Step 3: Redrawing the Image on the Wood Grid
In short I redrew what was on the image grid onto my wood grid, working from the center out. I had to re-proportion a few of the lines and such a few times during this part of the process. Basically just give it a good looking over, don't be afraid to redraw some of the lines if you need to. Remember that the one side of this symbol is just a inverse of the other, so you can compare one side to the other frequently during redrawing to keep everything nice and even / symmetrical. I personally found the curves in between the outer coil and inner entwine the most hard when it came to proportioning, because of how a snake somewhat swells in the middle and tapers at the ends.
If all goes well you should end up with something like I have pictured above. I opted for simple eyes, then in the burning phase made them even simpler because I didn't want to have to dig around for random metal things to heat with a blowtorch to form / burn the eye shapes. I have done things like that before though, you can use different small sockets for circles of pupils, a flathead screwdriver for the slits, maybe make shapes with coat hangers ect.. You will obviously want to hold the item with a really large pair of vice grips and wear some thick leather gloves when branding in this manner. Also be sure to outline the thing your going to use in the areas they will be placed before you lay down a burn to see how it will look, to help guide your placement when you brand it on the wood.
Note : If you use a heated metal object to brand, it will likely burn deeper than a average solder gun or wood burner, the burn will also likely extend beyond the outline, depending on the temperature of the object you use to brand it may creep a 16th of a inch or a quarter of a inch, better to test your object on a scrap of the same wood to get a feel for it first. Using a heated object of a high temperature may leave embers burning after you lay the brand! You will want to keep a wet sponge or a spray bottle with water in it near by when branding. You also need to have something non flammable and lifted off the ground such as a upside dowm cooking kettle or a large brick nearby to set your hot object and let it cool down!
Step 4: Mark Inset Areas / Negative Space / Drill Pilot Holes
In my project I only marked my insets (each place a coil meets with another coil), you may want to gently inline the voids as well with a colored pencil. Notice I said *IN line and not outline, you want to keep your marks inside the void area as to avoid confusion and help keep your lines visible and straight when you begin cutting the void spaces out. You may also want to mark the inset areas with a different color to avoid confusion!
Now that you have all your neg space and insets defined/marked out use your drill to make pilot holes in the negative space areas to allow for the insertion of a jigsaw blade or passing through of a bandsaw or scrollsaw blade. You may have to make two holes right beside each other and then ream them out / into one hole using the drill to make them connect.
Take special care to avoid getting to close to the edges or corners whenever possible while drilling or reaming the pilot holes, you want to be able to ease into the pattern from your pilot hole and not be right on it, this assures you have a proper blade alignment when you do meet into the pattern marks, keeps everything nice and smooth, will help to avoid excessive filing later!
Step 5: Remove Negative Space
After you cut out all of your negative spaces you may want to file/sand out some of the rough spots and mainly corners to keep everything looking nice and squared, I personally rounded all of the edges on mine slightly with a chainsaw file. If you use a jigsaw, being that a jig saw blade will lean sometimes, you may want to even / touch things up a little from the backside to keep your cuts looking even from the front to back!
Step 6: Carving / Insetting / Recessing
The way I inset my pieces is by using a razor blade, you can use any number of carving tools, or a Dremel, or a shallow router. I start by going around all my edges to mark them out, make them more easily visible to the eye it also creates a breaking point for chips to stop and not exceed their boundaries when you start removing material. I then carefully carve gently towards the edges, from the inside areas that will be removed paying close mind to where my hands are, and not to exceed the boundaries. You can kind of work at a angle from the opposing sides to "V" notch the areas from each side, this suffices to remove enough material for me.
NOTE: this is very dangerous I HIGHLY recommend using a small chisel and not using a razor blade like I do!
Step 7: Woodburning/defining the Insets
This part is pretty self explanatory use a wood burner or a solder gun to burn / blacken the inset areas, I personally hit all of the edges just a little to make things stand out.
If your going to do any miscellaneous branding, this is a good step of the process to go ahead and do that as well.
* * * NOTE * * * : Dont forget to do the eyes at this point in the process, I simplified the eyes on my design compared to what I had drawn originally, the woodburner I have wouldn't allow me to match the curves and I didn't feel like using the alternative methods I talked about earlier in the instructable.
Alternatively method of inset and crack definition :
Carve out all your areas you would want detailed (insets and cracks details eyes scales ect ) and instead of using a wood burner to define them, spray the whole face with a coat of black spray paint, then carefully sand the paint off of the face of the project, if you made your insets and details deep enough, the face will become re-exposed and the detailed areas and insets will still have paint in them!
Try to use a minimal amount of paint when using this method, because when you sand it off it really gums up the sanding medium, you will go through a lot more paper removing paint, because it sticks to the paper, as compared to wood dust that would mostly blow away!
Step 8: Drilling the Hanging Hole
Since we marked the center line on the back earlier in the process, we can just make a mark at about the middle of the snakes head on our back center line! I also made a hanger hole on the bottom snakes head as well so I could hang it with either snake on the top.
If this piece was not symmetrical , finding a center point of balance would be a little more tricky! I personally do this on geometrically uneven / asymmetrical pieces by balancing the whole piece on a drumstick or a wooden dowel rod, then when it balances I mark that point with a little poke from a thumbtack on the top edge, then I make a corresponding mark on the back of the piece that lines up with that point.
You will want to make sure you do not drill all the way through the wood when you drill a hanger hole, this is done by marking the drill bit with a piece of masking tape, making sure that piece of tape on your bit is significantly less than the depth of your wood! Look at the picture to get a better idea of what I'm talking about here.
Once I made my mark for the hanging hole I drilled straight in about a 16th of a inch to make sure the bit was set, then shifted the drill to a *upward angle pointing towards the *top of the piece until I hit the depth mark tape on my drill bit. This makes for a easy hang, you can now hang the whole piece with one small nail, if you drilled your angle right this will help assure that it doesn't fall off during times of vibrations or minor tremors ect..
Step 9: (Optional) Shadowing & Adding Some Contrast to the Edges & Sanding
I recommend using a piece of cardboard bigger than your piece of wood to avoid spray paint getting onto the face side of your work! Lay your piece face down on the cardboard, then lightly spray around the edges and inner edges, do this from all 4 sides if needed to make sure you don't have any areas that lack paint when your finished. If you plan on hanging your piece on a wall you don't really have to waste paint painting the whole back side. I also signed mine so before I painted it to avoid having my signature painted over I covered that area with a piece of mailing tape so I could remove the tape after the paint dried and my signature would still be visible.
Sanding off the grid / re-exposing the face:
This is pretty self explanatory, but some points here are to try your best to avoid overlapping into the inset areas, if you do you can always re-burn some of the areas, or touch it up with some paint using a brush. I used a electric palm sander with emery paper, seemed to do the trick pretty well! You may want to go over any of the sides you cut as well at this point to smooth them out.
Step 10: Stain / Finish
The main points on the staining process of this piece was first using a small brush I dabbed a dot of my darker colored stain in the middle of each section of the darker colored snake to avoid confusion and staining the darker color on the wrong snake!
Then I went around and brushed / edged the borders first, after that then start applying stain to the middle of the sections, this helped greatly to avoid spilling / leaching the wrong color of stain into the sections I did not want it in!
Helpful hint : I did not have any medium hue stain so I first stained the lighter colored snake with a really light stain and let it dry, then after it dried, I went back over it and lightly rubbed my dark stain into it, then before that dried I back stripped it with some thinner. If you do this you may want to test the process on a scrap of wood you removed when cutting out the void spaces to ensure predictable results, give you a idea of what the finished tone will look like!
General stain info :
The way you choose to finish is up to you have fun with it!
There is a lot of free range and exploration to be had with stains and finishing in general. If you opt to experiment I suggest using a scrap of the same wood you made your piece from to test you methods before applying those methods to your meticulously prepared piece! If the results of your experimental methods are desirable (you may not want to judge the results as final until everything dries, the dry appearance may differ slightly from the wet) you can then apply them to your actual piece with confidence knowing that the results will be far more predictable than just winging through it!
You can make homemade stains from organic materials, you can do different layers of different stains for different tones. Certain types of stain seem to grab on to different grains and layers of the wood so sometimes using multiple stains can produce some very interesting final effects! You can experiment with back stripping (using thinner to leach some of the stain back out) after you stain, or in between layers. You may also opt to seal it with mineral spirits or a clear coat spray or a spar urethane.
You may also want to experiment with aging/hue effects using a heat source like a heat gun or blowtorch from about 10-12 inches back to lightly burn/sear the wood before of after you stain, this can create different looks, bring out new details sometimes. There is a lot more possibilities with wood finishing then most people realize, once you start finishing, some of the details can really surprise you!
Once you get your stain or chosen finish on, let it dry then hang it up, sit back and admire your work :)
If you make one of these post a picture of it in the comments, I would love to see your work!