This is an awesome instructible on how to make a wooden name block (the perfect gift for basically anyone older than 6). I took pictures whenever I remembered to, so bear with me. A note of warning: I made one for my parents, then my mom paid me to make one for my grandma who then showed it to everybody in the family, and now I am making three more for my aunts and uncles, one of which is twelve names long. Note: in my example Wooden Name Block I put all of the first names horizontally and the family name vertically along the side.
Step 1: Don't Gather Supplies Yet! First Some Computer Work...
This here is the template in case you didn't figure out what that was on your own. This is what you will glue onto the piece of wood so you can cut most accurately. So you can do this part however you want to as long as it looks like the final product, but this is how I made it. I made it in Microsoft Publisher, and I started by making individual text boxes for each name, arranged them from smallest to biggest, butted the names up against a line and printed it out. Font size was 72, and the font itself was called Rockwell Extra Bold. I'll let you figure out some of the fine tuning of the template because it was different with all of my projects.
Step 2: Some "Hi Tech Editing"
Using a sharpie and a pair of scissors to roughly cut out the template, like in the picture, and use a sharpie to touch up your template. Now this part is IMPORTANT. If you’re skimming through the beginning of my instructible read this part carefully. Once you finish your "name block" it would be really bad if your project snapped in half right? So at this point carefully look over your template searching for any weak points. A weak point will be a gap down the middle of it where the letters don’t touch. See the second picture for a visual aid. To fix these weak points find a nondescript place to connect two letters across the gap. If you're like me go ask someone who knows about how to make something look nice.
Step 3: Collect Materials
Now and only now will you collect the materials needed for your project. Here they are:
- Your template that you made in the last two steps.
- Find a nice piece of hardwood that is bigger than your template. It MUST be hardwood. A good test to see if wood is a hardwood is to use your thumbnail and press it into the wood as hard as you can without breaking the nail. If your nail made an impression it is a softwood, if it didn't make an impression then it is a hardwood.
- A nice strong spray on glue, I used Super 77 Multipurpose Adhesive and it has worked great.
- A scroll saw. If you have WAY to much time on your hands theoretically you could use a coping saw, but you CANNOT use a band saw for reasons you will soon discover.
- A sander of some sort. Belt sander, orbital sander, sandpaper, whatever.
- Drill Press
- Assorted bit sizes for the drill press
- Safety goggles. I never wore these except for one time, and that was the one time in my woodworking experience that I got something in my eye. Anyways, I don't want to get sued by someone irresponsible. Safety Third.
- A lot of time
Step 4: Spray the Glue
Take your spray on glue and, well spray it onto the piece of wood. Follow the instructions on the can to properly apply the glue and place your template. I found out that there is such a thing as too much glue. The wood was all sticky and it messed me all up as I tried to cut it so I cleaned up the shop a bit and gathered a nice pile of fine sawdust. I poured it onto the stick parts of the wood and rubbed it in. Yay no more sticky!
Step 5: Start Cutting
So I used two types of blades on the scroll saw: normal flat blade and a flying duchman blade. The flying duchman blade can actually cut in any direction, opposed to the normal blade which can only cut in one direction. They can be bought here. I used the normal blade for the long straight lines and the duchman for everything else. You don't need flying duchman blades, but they do help a lot. Quickly cut out the name block (see picture 1) and then more carefully cut around the perimeter (see picture 2).
Step 6: Drill Holes
So first you need to find the smallest bit possible that you can stick your blade through. Then, everywhere there is still a white space on the template, drill a hole. If that is confusing look the pictures. Speaking of pictures, the first one is kind of blurry, sorry about that. :-)
Step 7: Keep Cutting
After drilling holes start cutting again. To do this, unscrew the clamp thing that is holding the top of the blade in place and insert the top of the blade up through the hole that you drilled earlier. Reclamp the blade and start cutting. Once you are done with the section you are doing unclamp the blade, pull the piece of wood out, and reinsert it into a new hole. This is the longest step of my instructible. I'd recommend listening to some good music (free and not pirated at the link), maybe a book on CD, or just sit quietly and cut wood. This step is also the reason in why you cannot use a band saw. NOTE: as you cut the project it will not look all that nice. I'm not too sure why it looks so bad as you cut it out, and it can be slightly depressing, but push through. It looks a LOT better after you sand it.
Step 8: Celebrate Your Accomplishments by Sanding
So after you have cut out the entire thing, get your sander and sand off all of the paper and glue until it is just wood and looks really cool. After you sand it, all these yucky paper shreds and gluey sawdust will fall down into the gaps between letters. I used to carefully pick out all of the clumps and then blow on it, but today I found out that the shop-vac (which any self-respecting woodworker needs) works much better, faster, and is a whole lot more fun to use than a toothpick. Once you are done clean up, take a few pictures, click the "I Made It" button at the bottom of the instructible, and like it. You can also show it off to friends, family, and your dog. Please like, comment, and charge people when they ask you to make one for them.