True Patri-Art Love - My Wood Canadian Flag




About: Woodworking, sports, games, music, food. I love it all. Wishlist includes home with a bigger workshop, a laser cutter/engraver, and planer. I also wish I could wrap my head around electronics and computer ...

This is my instructable for a Wooden Canadian Flag. It was a labour of love and a ton of labour at that! I have made 2 of these, which I'll refer to as Version 1.0 and 2.0.

Step 1: The Process Begins

I went to the place to buy some wood to build my niece a growth chart. Not knowing what I wanted or needed, I asked and they suggested poplar and Red oak. I bought a 10'x6"x1" board of each, loaded them into my civic with about 1/8" clearance at the winsdhield and I was on my way. Had I know this was going to turn into a distinctly Canadian piece of art, I would have used Maple. Sorry, eh!

Upon learning that my niece already had a growth chart, I decided to make a Canadian flag instead.

This is the red oak board cut in half lengthwise. I had everything measured out so I knew if I ripped this board in half it would give me enough for both "red parts" of the flag.

if you're not familiar with the Canadian flag, we forgive you. google it.

Step 2: Red Sides Cut

From the single board, I got some good differences in colour and grain. I alternated the light boards with the dark and it worked out nicely.

Step 3: Red Oak and Poplar Laid Out. Unsanded

Everything is cut so size here. Time to get sanding. On version 2.0, I swapped out the poplar for maple. O' Canada!

Step 4: Sanded Vs. Unsanded

I hadn't invested in a router yet, so for version 1.0, I sanded everything with my palm sander. By the time I had started version 2.0, I had inherited my grandpa's upright belt sander and that sped up the process a lot! If I ever make another one, I'd like to invest in a jointer and planer so I can have perfectly square boards, then I'll use a router and roundover bit for all of the edges and they'll be much more uniform.

Step 5: Drilling Holes

I had originally intended to butt join them and use glue but I decided that wasn't going to cut it. I moved my operation to my grandpa's garage and used the drill press.

after an hour of wrestling with the drill press after one of the belts popped off, I was drilling.

my plan to join the boards now was to drill matching holes in all the boards and feed a threaded rod through and put a nut on either end. This would be done twice per "red area" of the flag.

not sure if you can see, but my holes were pretty bushleague. Because my edges were not square, when I used the drill press the holes drilled didn't finish up parallel to the front or back face of the board. luckily it doesn't matter as you can't see them anyways.

In the future, I'd square up the edges of the board with a jointer/planer as mentioned in the last step, then drill the holes, then roundover the edges.

Step 6: Maple Leaf Cut Out.

I was hoping to salvage the inside pieces of the leaf but that went out the window pretty quick in those tight corners.

But I laid out the 4 poplar boards, trying my best to showcase the grain. I had printed a 2' maple leaf at school on the big printers so I could trace it in one piece.

After tracing it out, I jigsawed out the Leaf. In the future, I'd use the router and not cut through the entire board. That way, I'll have something to glue the leaf pieces to(instructions later).

Step 7: A Little Lesson for Everyone.

so I went around the edges of everything and sanded them until they were rounded off. It looks pretty slick up close.

if you look at the "red parts" you can see the Acorn nuts on the top and bottom. Those are securing the threaded rods that hold all the boards together.

A short story about the rods.

I originally bought 4 rods and then proceeded to drill the holes in the boards. like an idiot, I left the rods at home when I went to drill the holes. I couldn't remember the size of the rod so I just went for it.

I had drilled all the holes the exact size of the rods.

"No Problem", I told myself "Just grab a hammer and pound the rod through!"


I mangled the threads and I had only gone through one board.

back to home Depot. I would just buy thinner rod. Than meant smaller nuts and smaller washers too. Fine. I'll pay it.

I get home and proceed to measure out how long the rod needs to be, as they come in 3' lengths.

I thread the rod through the boards, mark it, and cut it.

Using this first rod as a measuring stick, I cut the remaining 3 rods.

as I'm feeding the newly cut rod through the holes, I knock the last board onto the ground. I pick it up and notice it says 9 on the back. "Hmm.. I must have laid them out in the wrong order, because there are 10 boards per side"


I had moved a board somewhere else for some reason and I had measured and cut all my rods to the 9 board length.


back to home depot. at least this time I didn't have to buy more washers and nuts.

TL;DR Measure thrice. cut once.

Step 8: The Most Labour Intensive, But Satisfying Part of the Build.

this picture is not in the right sequence on the timeline but it shows the next step.

In the middle of the picture is an 8' 1x2 of red oak. I wil be cutting this in approximately 1 1/2" pieces to fill up the maple leaf portion of the flag. For Version 1.0, I oriented them all in the same direction then chiseled out the edge pieces to fit. In version 2.0, I oriented the pieces to look more like a leaf with veins/spines/whatever they're called. This was my favourite change from 1.0 to 2.0.

In version 1.0, I used the good ol' chop saw to make about 180 pieces. They are all roughly the same height - Something I changed for version 2.0, making 3 different heights for more variation.

Word to the wise. If you take this on, prepare to have a sore neck. There was a lot of chiseling.

Step 9: Finally Laid Out, Ready for Stain.

I Glued in all of the leaf pieces and laid everything out. Just need to slap on some colour!

Remember how I said that in the future, I'd use a router and not cut the maple leaf all the way through the boards? The reason for that is because it's very difficult to secure all of the leaf pieces.

In version 1.0, there is gorilla tape all across the back so that the leaf pieces don't fall through. This was not ideal, but I had no other ideas.

In Version 2.0, I put a sheet of galvanized metal across the back, also not ideal.

If I could rout out the leaf then sort of inlay the leaf pieces, that would work much better.

Step 10: BAM!

I stained the "red" parts of the flag with minwax Red Oak stain and wiped it off after about a minute.

The maple leaf, being end grain, sucked up all of the stain and came out a lot darker than the outsides.

I would eventually give the outsides a second coat and the colours match up a bit better now.

Step 11: Gaaaaaaa I Ruined It!

I stained the poplar with Minwax Puritan Pine wood stain and I really hated how it came out. All that hard work to create this thing and I got the red parts looking mint.. and then this disaster.

I hated it. I was a bit discouraged. But that's what sandpaper is for.

Step 12: Finished!

I was able to get most of the stain off and it now has a bit of a weathered look. I love it now!

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    15 Discussions


    6 months ago

    Turned out real nice. Where did you eventually display your masterpiece?

    1 reply

    Reply 6 months ago

    Thanks! I gave it to my parents and it hung in their house for a few years. They recently moved and I'm not sure whether it made it back onto the wall or not.


    7 months ago

    think i might give this a try this weekend looks great

    thanks Daniel

    Wood Chuck

    3 years ago

    Well done kdac. Another proud Canadian which is great to see.

    1 reply

    3 years ago

    I really admire your patience with cutting all the blocks out. Great job!

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks! I thought version 1.0 took long with the edge chiseling... then when I did 2.0 and it was probably 3 times longer because of all the interior pieces that needed chiseling.


    3 years ago

    Nice job. You build like I do, at least 3 trips to the store.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    More like 13 trips.. haha. I'm less of a planner and more of a do-er!


    Reply 3 years ago

    Well.. on version 1.0, I have hinges on the back which hold the reds to the white. I was in a time crunch and had to use whatever I could find. I oriented the hinges diagonally across the seam between the red and white so that they wouldn't operate like hinges. Later I would add some 1x1 (or smaller) strips of wood across the whole back of the piece.

    For Version 2.0, I thought that piece of galvanized metal across the back would do the trick but it turned out to be too flimsy. I acquired a length of Aluminum U-Channel from work and screwed that to the back. That worked well to keep everything together and rigid.