Introduction: Mother's Day Handprints in a Solid Wooden Frame

About: I've built houses, decks, custom cabinets, furniture of all types. Ive done furniture repair and restoration, residential and commercial remodels, restaurant seating and tables and hotel furniture. Ive been a …

I'm sure most of you out there have heard of, seen or made the childrens hand-print molds with the pie tin and plaster of paris.
My fiance wanted to help her niece and nephew make some hand-prints for their mom for mothers day. That gave me an idea for the molds. Instead of using a pie tin, I had an idea to make round wood frames that surround and hold the hand-prints securely. as an added bonus, It is much easier to install a wall hanger on these and they look very nice when finished.

Each of these were made with some re-claimed wood. (2X8") The actual wood was once used as part of the frame-work for a stage that the childrens father and his band practiced on. So there is a added bit of sentiment there.

Step 1: Gather and Prep Your Blanks

I grabbed an old  2X8 and cut  7-1/2"X7-1/2" squares I cut around the knots in the square blanks. (there are two kids so times this by 2).

Step 2: Mount the Workpiece to Your Lathe.

I mounted these to the lathe with a worm screw. This requires me to mark the centers, drill a hold large enough to allow the worm screw to screw into. then cut the corners using your miter saw.
After you tighten the worm screw into the chuck you can bring the workpiece up and tighten it down to the face of the jaws by screwing it onto the worm screw.

Step 3: Rough Turn the Outside and Form a Chuck Recess.

Now you need to rough round the outside edges and form a chuck recess on the (current) face of the block (this will be flipped over and make the other side of the block the actual front of the frames.) the recess is about 2 1/2" inches and about 1/4"- 3/8" deep.

After you form the chuck recess, sand the current face (this is currently the back of the frame) to 220 grit, that should be fine...

Step 4: Flip the Workpiece, Rough the Inside.

Now that you have an almost finished bottom/back you can unscrew the block of wood from the chuck and then remove the worm screw. then flip the workpiece over and tighten the chuck into the recess you cut on the back.
After you get it securely mounted in the recess, you can finish smooth the outside edges and rough out the inside. as I was making this I figured it would be a good idea to give the inside rim a taper (the front of the mold opening is smaller than the back of the inside) I figured this would hold the plaster mold securely in place and not allow it fall out of the mold when dry.

Step 5: Finish Sand and Polish

Now we sand. Softwood like pine sands fast! a little too fast if you ask me. So go slow, and not too much pressure. If you have knots on the sanding area, you risk gumming up your sandpaper and you will not have a good time.
I sanded the outside and face (edge) to 320 grit. I didnt sand the inside of the mold, I left it rough. first reason was, no one will ever see it, and the second reason being the rough tear-out will possibly allow the plaster to harden and stick to the bottom better.

After sanding is finished you can now apply your choice of finish. I used a friction polish for the outside and face rim then I sprayed minwax polycrylic (2 coats light sanding in-between) on the bottom.

I was concerned with the moisture from the plaster of paris swelling the wood to the point that it may crack the mold. So I decided to make an extra one to do a trial run with the plaster of paris on bare wood and cured.
I didn't take pics during this process, instead I decided to try my hand at a video, (hopefully coming soon).
After I finished this last one with the friction polish I brought my fiance out to show her how to mix the plaster to the correct consistency. It should be like room temperature mayonnaise.

Mix the plaster in a junky old bowl. I didn't measure anything, I dumped in a pile of plaster then poured in water. Mix it up until it is clump free then when you are happy with the consistency, Pour it in the center of the mold, don't fill it to the top leave about 1/8".
It may pile up in the middle, if this happens simply pick up the mold and lightly slam it flatly on the table. This will settle the plaster flat inside the mold. If it looks too watery let it sit for about ten minutes at a time.
You can tell that it is ready for the hand-prints, when the plaster stops jiggling when you tap the side.

Step 6: Personalize It and Give It to a Great Mom!

Its a good Idea to wet the hand that is going to make the print before you press it in. Wet the little hand, shake off the water and flatly press the hand into the plaster just enough to give it some definition..  Then let it sit over-night to fully cure dark dry place is perfect. Make sure it is sitting level while it hardens and cures. after it hardens you can use a dremel to carve a name date or special message. You can also do this about 30 minutes after you put the hand-print in. You will notice that it carves like a clay. you could also add small stones, shells or river rocks to add even more detail. My fiance painted the hand-prints with their favorite colors.

My kids leave big hand-prints everywhere (the big ones aren't cute), so I thought maybe the dogs... I tried to grab the first dog and It's like they knew what I was doing and found various hiding spots in the house. So I grabbed Goliath, he's laid back enough and the fiance loves him very very much. So that is why you see a bearded dragon on this finished product. :)

Thanks for looking.

As promised here is a video of one of these being made...
Be gentle, but I welcome tips and any recomendations as I have no experience here. This was my first woodworking video.

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