Wooden Geometric Mountain Wall Art

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Introduction: Wooden Geometric Mountain Wall Art

Lately, my wife and I have been seeing A LOT of posts and pictures of wooden wall art on our social media feeds. Most have been either mountain ranges made out of reclaimed lumber, or just geometric wall art made out of various types of plywood.

We really liked the simple look of the geometric wall art, but also like the mountain range theme of the reclaimed lumber versions. However, it was hard to find one that combines the two aspects we liked at an affordable price. So I decided to roll up my sleeves, put my skills to the test, and try my hand at making my own geometric mountain art.

In this instructable, I’m going to share my process for making a wooden geometric mountain wall art, and point out areas that are customizable based on your needs.

Supplies

Supplies:

  • 4ft x 8ft x .5in sheet of plywood
  • Clear shellac
  • Titebond 2 wood glue
  • Blue tape
  • Elmers ProBond wood filler
  • 1” brad nails
  • 5/8” brad nails
  • Foam brushes
  • Screw eyelets
  • Hanging wire


Tools & uses:

  • Circular saw (alt = jigsaw) — This is used to cut plywood to size
  • Circular saw track (or straight edge) — help cut the plywood to size
  • Table saw (alt = circular saw or jigsaw) — for cutting frame & interior pieces
  • Miter saw (alt = table saw, jigsaw or Circular saw) — for cutting the miters on all the pieces
  • Dado stack (alt = single blade and rip fence) — cutting groves into the frame
  • Nail gun (alt = hammer) — nail pieces to frame
  • Orbital sander — Sanding the art
  • Various straight edges — marking and measuring
  • Handheld router — for finishing
  • Handheld saw — Flush cutting and cleaning up small areas
  • Ratcheting clamps — Clamping up the frame during glue

Step 1: Inspiration & Design

I started this project by gathering inspiration images and getting a sense of both what I liked and what I didn’t like. This first step of the project is highly personalized to an individual’s specific tastes and likes but is also one of the more crucial steps of any project. I typically start with a google search, followed by searching various social media sites for similar projects. As I’m doing this I save images of ones that I really like (even if it's a small aspect) to my computer. I’ll reference these pictures as I start to think about what I want. With inspiration in hand, I start by sketching ideas of what I want the piece to look like. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days.


I decided to do mine in 3 continuous panels with various levels of mountains in the foreground and background in order to create some visual interest. However, this will be different for each person depending on your inspiration and is more of a rough guide of what the final artwork will look like. 

Step 2: Cutting the Wood

Once I had decided on a design direction, It was time to break down the 4ft x 8ft sheet of plywood into the pieces needed to finish the project. The order of how I cut the wood was important to ensure I minimized any waste. 

First — I marked out my 3 panels on the piece of plywood which were two 1ft x 2ft panels and one 2ft x 2ft. I cut the panels down to rough size using a circular saw and my circular saw track. Then I took the rough sizes to my table saw and cut them down to the final size to ensure that I have clean, square pieces.

Second — With the panels done I then started cutting the outer frame which I determined would be a width of 1-1/2in based on the thickness of the plywood, the look I wanted, and the offset from the wall. Using the off-cut plywood (the piece that was leftover from cutting the panels) I ripped 12 pieces at 1-1/2in x 48in. I then swapped out the standard table saw blade with a Dado stack that was equal to the width of the plywood. I set the rip fence in order for the groove to be 1/4in offset from the edge of the outer frame strip and a height equal to half the thickness of the wood. I then proceeded to cut grooves in all the outer frames. 

Third — The last part to cut down was the stripes of wood that would make up the geometric mountain pattern. The width of this is equal to the thickness of the outer frame (1-1/2in) minus my offset (1/4in) minus the thickness of the wood (1/2in) which for my project would end up being 3/4in. In my mind, it’s always best to have more than less so I cut A LOT (around 50 pieces) of wooden strips at this size.

Step 3: Building the Frames

Once all of the wood was cut down to the size I needed to have a container for the geometric mountain range to be placed in. This is also where I ran into a small hiccup because of how I initially cut the wood to size.


I started this step by cutting an initial 45-degree miter at my miter saw on one of the outer frame pieces that I ripped down during step two. I then place the mitered out frame piece onto one of the panels ensuring to line the mitered side up with the corner of the panel. From there I marked the opposite side for the length I needed and proceeded to cut the miter at the miter saw. From there I worked my way around the panel cutting a miter in an outer piece lining it up with the previous piece, marking the length, and cutting the miters. Due to this method, I had to trim down some of the pieces to ensure I had a good fit. I just repeated this process for all 3 panels until I had a frame that would fit around each of the panels. 


Once I had the frames for each panel cut I proceeded to glue the frames in place using titebond 2 wood glue in the grove and miter corners of the panels. In order to ensure I had as tight of a corner as possible, I used blue tape as a way to clamp each corner as I worked my way around each panel. Once all four outer frame pieces were in place I also ran tape all around the entire panel with frames as well as used a ratcheting tie-down to make sure the frames didn’t come off the panels.


Once the glue had dried this is where I realized I had an issue. When I glued the panels up a few of my mitered corners wouldn’t meet and had gaps between them. I would fix this mistake in a later step by removing the clean mitered corners. However, what I would have done differently to get clean mitered corners is

  • 1st cut the outer frame pieces to the overall size I wanted the piece to be.
  • 2nd Then cut the panels down to size in order to fit the frames and overall size.
  • 3rd Glue everything together, in the same manner, I originally did. This should ensure clean mitered corners

Step 4: Laying Out the Pattern

After the frames were all glued up it was time to really start bringing the whole project together by working on the geometric mountain pattern. This is where the original sketched concept starts to come to life. 


I started this step by transferring my original sketched concept onto the completed frames from step 3. I did this by leveraging various L square rules, straight edges, and a few of the 3/4 inch strips to draw out the pattern onto the 3 frames. This took some time so I put on a good podcast and just started sketching. I wasn’t afraid to make any mistakes at this point as I could always erase the lines and start again. 


After the design was transferred to the frames and I was happy with the overall appearance I started to attach the strips that would make up geometric mountains. This step was started by using my miter saw to cut 45-degree miters on top two strips and then laying the mitered strips on their sides down onto the frames using the drawn pattern as a guide. I would then double-check the fit of the miters ensuring where the two strips meet were clean miters. If one strip was too long I would go back and trim it up a bit. Once I was happy with the overall fit I would use my nail gun and 1” brad nails to attach the pieces to the frames. From there it was a simple rinse and repeat until all of the mountain range was nailed to the frame.


Finally, I repeated the same process as the mountain range for the sky region. However, to add a bit of visual interest these strips were laid flat rather than on their side to give the feeling of depth.

Step 5: Filling & Sanding

Now that all the 3/4in strips were nailed into place the project was really starting to take shape and was close to being finished. Although this is the simplest of all the steps it is also the most time-consuming. 


First — I started by filling all the visible voids that were in the plywood with Elmer’s Probond wood filler. This will give the overall piece a cleaner look. Once all the voids were filled I used the same wood filler to cover up all the nail marks. Then I just had to wait a day for all the wood filler to dry so I can begin the funniest part (and yes there is a hint of sarcasm there). SANDING!!!


Second — I started sanding by using my orbital sander with an 80 grit sandpaper on all the surface-level areas where the edge of the plywood was exposed. I then worked my way through the various grits, 100, 110, and 220 making sure that all the seams and connections were as flush as possible. Once the edge of the plywood was sanded I used a 220 grit sheet of sandpaper to clean up the interior surfaces as best as I could, with the main goal of removing any pencil lines that were still visible. 

Step 6: Fixing Issues

As I had mentioned in step 3 “Building the Frames” my mitered corners were less than desirable. Which meant I needed to find a way to either fill the gaps that were in the mitered corners or change the miter corners altogether. After looking at the 3 panels together I felt that they could use a bit more visual interest and decided to remove the mitered corners altogether.


I started this process by marking 1-1/2inches from the corners on the backside of the panels and connecting the two sides at a 45-degree angle. This would be what I would the cut-off portion of each corner from all 3 panels essentially creating an odd-shaped octagon. 


When I was happy with the amount I was going to cut off I used my table saw bade along with a miter gauge set to 45 degrees to cut off all the corners. This was accomplished by aligning the drawn mark with the blade and slowly pushing each panel through to get as clean of a cut as possible. 


After the corners of all 3 panels were removed I used some cut-offs from the outer frame pieces I had to glue across the newly cut sections. For each corner, I would put a bit of glue on the panel, place the cut-off while making sure the tops were flush, then use blue tape as clamps. Once all four corners had been glued in place I put ratcheting clamps around the entire panel to ensure a tight strong fit. Once the glue had dried on all 3 panels I took a Japanese pull saw and cut any overhang flush with the original frame. 


Finally, to soften the frame I used a 1/4in chamfer bit in my handled router to knock down the sharp edges around the outer frame. This was then followed by another round of sanding on the frame using the orbital sander and 220 grit sandpaper to make sure there were no rough edges. With that, the wooden geometric wall art was almost complete.

Step 7: Finishing

With all the panels finished and sanded properly it was time for putting on all the finishing touches. There are a million different ways someone could decide to go with this. Paint the mountains brown and the sky blue, or Stain the mountains a darker color and leave the sky natural. Paint the frame while staining the geometric mountain pattern. The possibilities here are endless, but my wife and I both like the look of natural wood so we opted to just use shellac. 


In order to apply the shellac to each of the panels, I used various sizes of sponge brushes. With the various sizes of brushes, I was able to get into all the corners, making sure I hit all the interior and exterior sides. Once all three panels had been completely covered I let them dry overnight and touched up any areas that I had missed with the first coat.


Finally, I prepped the panels for hanging by adding eyelets and wire to the back of each panel. I started this by marking down the sides of each panel about 5-1/2in. Then using a straight edge I drew a line going across each side of the panel. Then using a hole punch I created a mark where each eyelet would be screwed into the frame. Once all the eyelets were screwed in I ran the wire through one side of the eyelet twisting tightly to itself. Then run the other side of the wire through the eyelet on the opposite side of the frame. Pulling it tight and looping it back on itself then twisting it together as well.


Once I had completed this process for all three panels the project was done, and ready to be hung up on the wall.

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    4 Comments

    0
    MIlo876
    MIlo876

    Question 2 months ago

    What is the length of the pieces that make the pattern?

    0
    Drowbe
    Drowbe

    9 months ago

    Looks great! Do you take custom orders‽

    0
    charlessenf-gm
    charlessenf-gm

    9 months ago

    As the JoyOfPainting guy says, we have "happy accidents" (paraphrasing).
    One lesson learned is to put all the pieces together in DRY FITTING before opening getting the glue off the shelf. It helps to see where clamping is will be needed, if cauls are indicated or even a jig on a tricky glue up.
    The result you came up with is IMHO, actually an improvement over the initial rathe mundane mitered corners approach planned "a craftsman like appearance."
    And for those interested in making a copy, they might think about cutting those corners at a 45 to begin with and putting the 'patch' on first so the end 'grain' of the patches can only be seen from above or below - just a touch les obvious.
    That framing need not be constructed of plywood, of course. Contrasting wood can be found in the large box stores - cedar strips, even 'green' PT, as well as Oak and Pine are usually available and 6 - 1 x 2 x 8 pieces would do the trick - esp. if you are willing to reduce the dimensions of the by, what, an inch off the height and width?

    Oh, yes, did I tell you how impressive the result is?

    0
    seamster
    seamster

    9 months ago

    Great looking results, I like it!