Introduction: Power Carved Giant "Boot Print" Wood Wall Art Panel

About: I have an unhealthy relationship with pallet wood. I make fast paced and entertaining build videos on my YouTube channel that are made for everyone, but with the ultimate goal to get the younger generations ex…

Before being separated, the panel that this piece came from was laminated from 57 boards of white/red oak that were reclaimed from horse fencing from a farm in Pennsylvania. The concept for the final piece is that, through power carving with the use of Arbortech Tools, the panel will look like windswept sand with a giant Carolina boot print in the center.

Carved at Maker Faire, the overarching idea behind the design is an interpretation of how the maker movement brings so many different people together who likely wouldn’t interact otherwise. Everyone at Maker Faire is a piece to the bigger puzzle and feeds into that by freely sharing their ideas. It’s about teaming up and working together to create something that is unachievable individually.

Step 1: Materials & Tools


- Reclaimed oak horse fencing

- Wood glue

- Carbon paper

- Waterlox tung oil finish


- Hearing protection

- Dust mask

- Thickness planer

- Table saw

- Crosscut sled

- Pipe clamps

- Glue roller bottle

- Screw clamps

- Circular saw

- Jawhorse sawhorse

- Angle grinder

- Arbortech Industrial Woodcarver

- Arbortech Mini Grinder

- Arbortech Mini TURBO

- Arbortech Contour Sander

- Palm router

- Random orbit sander

- Dremel

- Soldering iron with pattern bit

Step 2: Cleaning Up the Materials

I start it all by taking a bunch of pieces of old horse fencing and sending them through the planer. This is all oak, mostly white oak but there are a couple of pieces of red oak that snuck their way in there. The pieces are just short of 6" wide, 1" thick, and about 40" long.

The thickness of the pieces doesn't matter for my application, because the world is on fire, so I just sent them through until the surface of each face is clean and put the piece aside so that I can save as much material as possible. This is a before/after cleaning up the pieces, it's hard to beat reclaimed oak, the weather lines run deep and creates a really cool look!

Step 3: Cutting the Material to Size

Each of these pieces is then sent through the table saw to cut it roughly in half. For now I'm cutting them to 2.5" since I want the final thickness to be around 2", so this will give me some room to play with.

I then sort out the pieces and figure out which is the worst side and face so that I can square each of these up and clean up the pieces further. Are the pieces are ripped again down to a consistent 2.25" to make them all the same since the original boards were random width. I also square up the ends, removing the worst looking end from the pieces.

Step 4: First Glue-up

A dry layout is done in the pipe clamps mostly to determine how big the panel will be (aka what size my clamps are physically just barely able to contain). I can also take this moment to sort the pieces again leaving the worst side up and the worst end facing out, this way when I clean them up later I can remove that part of the panels.

Glue application was a tricky one for this project, I ended up with a total of 57 boards making up this panel. I started by squirting the glue on in various unorthodox ways and then spread it on the boards, hey if you don't try it you'll never know... that's what I tell my wife at least.

But probably as expected I go back to the trusty glue spreader bottle and spread glue on the face of each of the pieces. I'm careful to mark out the panel before hand, dividing it into 4 smaller panels. I leave glue out between these smaller panels so that I can separate them after this glue up and they will still fit through my planer while I bring the surface down smooth following the glue-up.

Step 5: Second Glue-up

The panel is left to dry for the night and then, I can't emphasize this enough, carefully remove the clamps from my lamination. I still need to do one more glue-up so I don't want to take any chances and screw it up at this point.

Each of these smaller panels is sent through the planer to bring all of the slightly uneven edges down flush with one another and to clean up any of the few rough edges that are still left behind. I send these through with the worst face up until all of the panels look satisfactory. Unlike last time, the thickness that I plane the pieces down to does matter.

The panels are then glued together to one another. Pipe clamps are used again to span across the panel but this time I use some screw clamps at each end of each of the joints to make sure that the small panels remain even with one another while the glue dries. And don't forget the classic old woodworkers trick of dropping a clamp on your lamination for good luck, at least that's what my mama told me, and mama doesn't lie.

Step 6: Cleaning Up the Panel and Preparing for Carving

And last step is just to simply square off the ends of the giant panel with my circular saw. I measure it out so that it is square and use a straight edge to cut along to make sure my cut is perfect just like me.

And then, as is expected, I carry my 109lbs (yes I weighed it) of purebred, grass fed, organic, reclaimed, solid white oak panel all the way to NYC to have people glare at me through glass like some sort of common zoo animal. For real though, it was an awesome event, Maker Faire, no really, I genuinely enjoyed it, I'm not Joshing you, my name isn't Josh.

Before I left my humble shop in DC for the open air shop for the weekend, I printed out a giant template and taped it together and used that to trace on my "canvas". Once I was set up and ready for carving, I just went over those lines with a couple of different color Sharpies to bring out the lines a little better. Black is the lines that represent the waves in the sand and red is the tread of the boot that is the giant boot print.

Step 7: Power Carving at Maker Faire

I start off with Arbortech's Industrial Woodcarver. This is what I use to carve all of the sand swept wave pattern in the piece, it's a round 4" disk that has 3 super sharp carbide teeth and fits in an angle grinder. When planning out this project I was careful to orient the grain in a direction so that I would be doing this shaping while cutting in the direction of the grain and it paid off, cut like a hot knife through butter or cold carbide through oak.

I kept from cutting the sand texture where the treads showed up because I wanted to cut those first in case I wanted to use the flat surface as a reference surface so that I could give these cuts a consistent depth. That was a good idea because I cut most of the material out with the Mini Grinder and used the surface as a depth stop. Later I'll clean this up with a router, but this grinder makes super quick work at removing a lot of material.

Back and forth I go, working on carving out the sand and the treads until the world decides it's time and that it's had enough of me and it hides me back in my shop to continue to slave away without fresh air. I know that was only a few photos, but I swear it was an entire weekend. I tried to spend as much time as possible meeting people at the booth to boost up my fragile ego. I'm a millennial so I gain sustenance from nothing but praise and this is the best way I have found to be able to survive.

Step 8: Cleaning Up Boot Treads and Completing the Ripples

Anyway, back a the shop, I carve out any of the sand pattern that I can that is left outside of the treads and I also carve out any of the tread material that I can so that it is less to remove later.

Getting as far as I can, I lay the panel down flat an fine-tune the treads. I use a 1/4" in my palm router and drive that around freehand to bring my cuts up to the lines that I established earlier. This also lets me get a very exact depth of cut with a flat bottom to the cut. For the heel of the boot, I actually cut a little bit deeper because the rubber in the heel is thicker and that's also where you put most of your weight, that was my theory at least.

Once the treads are all complete, I can then carve out the sand texture in the middle of the panel where the boot is. I'm not sure how much of this I will keep in the boot print, but I want to establish it now and fine tune the shape later until it looks like a boot print. I'm figuring this will look like the boot print part of the sand has been flattened down, but I want this shape for now to start it off.

Step 9: Refining the Shape

As expected, the peaks of the sand inside of the boot are definitely too much. I switch tools over to the Mini Turbo in my grinder so that I can flatten out the peaks to tame them down just a little bit.

I go at the heal of the boot first and hack at it like it owes me money. The heal is going to be almost perfectly flat because it would have bottomed out in the sand, and this is a 4 foot tall boot, so we're obviously going for realism here. I also flatten down some of the peaks within the front of the boot tread but just with a light touch so the general texture still remains.

Step 10: Sanding... and Sanding... and Sanding...

With the shaping complete, rough sanding can commence. I use the sanding attachment for my Mini Grinder to clean up the ridges. Really the surface that I'm starting with is really smooth, but I want this to be a perfect surface, so I take out what little lumps there are with this guy. It has a rough disk on it so I can also use it for a little bit of fine-tuned shaping where needed around the boot print.

And then for a final sanding I start with my random orbit sander. The ripples within the boot print are pretty broad, so I can work over them with this sander. You can see here the slight texture that I left in the surface at the front of the boot compared to the heel. I sand this all up to 220 grit.

The sand ripples have much steeper curves, so I have to pull out the contour sander for my grinder and use that. It has sanding disk on it, but it's backed with a rubber head, so it contours to the curved surface, appropriately enough. I also sand all of this surface up to 200 grit.

Step 11: Adding the Carolina Logo

It's a good thing that I save literally everything, because I dig out the pattern from my stash and cut out the Carolina logo from the center of my boot to use to trace out the logo.

The process goes like this, I place the paper with Carolina side up on top of carbon paper with carbon side up. I trace out all of the letters and this then transfers the letters onto the back of the piece of paper. I can then flip that over and give myself a mirror image of the text (like it would be for a boot print) and then I trace out that mirror image using carbon paper to transfer it to the wood. That's a lot of words just to say I trace out "ANILORAC" onto the wood, although, it's a good thing they're not called Carolana Boots...

Carving out the letters is done with a ball nosed bit in the Dremel tool. I actually push this into the material pretty forcefully while cutting it to burn the material too. This leaves behind a slightly darker surface finish then the rest of the piece, so it helps it stick out a little more.

Step 12: Applying Finish

Then I give the whole piece a blast of compressed air to clean off any dust and turn on the mood lighting to prepare myself to rub finish on this beast...

I use tung oil since it will create a nice protective layer, but really pulls out the color in this oak too. Reclaimed oak is something special because it always has this unique color to it, and this stuff is even cooler because of how weathered it is and you can still see evidence of that.

After the first coat dries, I sanding it down lighting with some really fine 600 grit sandpaper just to remove any dust. I then apply a couple more coats of finish. The treads of the boot only get a single coat of finish though just to give the piece some extra contrast. The more coats you apply, the more shine the surface will have, so the treads have a nice flat look, while the rest is slightly glossy.

Step 13: Dividing Up the Panel

And now gets to the hardest part of the project. After getting that piece all done and taking a bunch of sexy photos, I then take this slab and divide it up into 9 even pieces using my table saw. These 9 pieces will be distributed to 9 random people who stopped by to visit a Maker Faire. It's a way for multiple people to share a single piece of art work and also to be part of a larger thing just like "Making" is.

The edges and backs of all of the pieces are sanded down smooth and the edges are all softened by sanding them down. I then print up a story behind the piece to stamp on the back and also to label them "X of 9". I do this by printing out a mirrored image of the text on my laser printer and using a pattern bit in my soldering iron to transfer the toner onto the wood.

Each of these pieces gets this unique stamp on the back of the panel and then I can apply finish to the back and edges and call this one a wrap. Soon 9 different people across the US will share a piece of my artwork with each other, it's pretty cool in my head at least, although my head is probably not something you want to use to create a baseline.

Step 14: Glamour Shots

I don't have glamour shots of the individual pieces, but this is the full 46"x39" panel before I divided it up to share it. My ultimate goal is that each of the people who receives one of the pieces will take a photo of it for me while the hold it, that way I can piece this picture back together as an awesome little patchwork quilt.

Final panel, Paul for scale.

Thanks so much for checking out this build all the way to the end. This project was an event in many meanings of the word. I always have a great time sharing it here and I'm super excited to be able to share this one physically with some people as well. Be sure to click the link over to the full build video to get the full Jackman experience, as always, it won't disappoint.


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