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David
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This will be a long post as far as number of photos but short relative to the actual time involved for the build. And since I like to tell the story that goes along with a build you’ll get to skip your favorite TV shows and just read about this build (ok, I know some of you will just look at the pictures and not read a single word :surprise: ).

Much of what I’ll show you was brand new to me – I had a good idea of what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it but some facets of the process were new to me. I think I used every tool in my shop except the scroll saw.

This project started last July, 2016, when our new Pastor was looking at my iPad stand on stage and said he liked it. I told him the woods are Curly Maple and unsteamed Black Walnut. He commented that we didn’t have a cross in the auditorium (sanctuary for you formal guys) and asked if I could build one. I consider it an honor to be asked to build something for our church and certainly said ‘yes’ right away.

I asked what woods he wanted; did he want it crude and realistic, did he want a piece of furniture, something in between, how big, etc. He said, “Just like your iPad stand, a piece of furniture.” “How big?” I asked, thinking at the price of those woods it would be something small – a couple of feet tall to set on the Lord’s Supper table or as an accent piece somewhere on the platform.

“Nine feet tall” was his answer. I actually laughed out loud and asked if he was serious. Turns out he was serious and he wanted some Walnut, as well. So I started looking for Curly Maple long enough to do this right and for some unsteamed Black Walnut. I knew I would resaw whatever I got because it was simply going to be too heavy to do the entire cross in 4/4 lumber.

It was time to start drawing some samples for his approval and to start a discussion on the style and look. I gave him about five options with different ways to use the two woods and ultimately he said the one I showed him first is the one he liked – Walnut sides and back with Curly Maple front. On back the Walnut cross beam is one piece but the front Curly Maple is mitered where the four pieces meet.

The wood arrived and we resawed it so the cross would be lighter. Some of the boards were almost 9” wide and over 80” long – that’s a resaw that will keep your attention!! We planed the Walnut and every so lightly planed the Curly Maple but we have an old DeWalt 733, no fancy planer with helical cutterhead, so we had to be very careful to keep from tearing the wood fibers. I decided it was best to put some 80 grit on the drum sander and run the Curly Maple through that for dimensioning.

But then our CNC frame showed up; guess which project now had my attention!? Yep, for the next many months I built the CNC and didn’t touch anything on the cross build. Nobody at church asked about it and I didn’t bring it up because I wanted to work on the CNC. I thought about it often, though, and knew I needed to get back on it so in late January I got all of the materials out, my sketches, dimension notes, etc. and set everything out on the table saw to see what I had and to get back in the mode of building the cross.

Interesting how all of this works sometimes but a couple of hours after I got all of this out I got a text from our Pastor asking about the cross. I told him my goal was to have it for Easter which was what he had hoped I would say.

So that brings us to today, Thursday before Good Friday, and the cross isn’t finished. But it is oh so close! The only reason I’m posting this now is because I’ve glued up all I can for the evening and will get back on it in the morning, so this may not get updated right away. I also plan to do a video but that will be next week at the earliest. I’ve taken a lot of photos but not a lot of video because I have been so focused on finishing this that I didn’t want to spend a lot of time setting up for good video although I have some decent video of the build.

So now that the back story is finished here are a few pictures:

Rendering of the approved design -


Curly Maple on the left is for the cross. The Spalted Maple and Tiger Cherry are for other projects.


My wonderful shop foreman is a great board catcher!


All the boards resawn, planed, and lightly drum sanded -


Beautiful figure in the Curly Maple!


Milling the wood took place in November 2016 and everything sat until February this year. At that point I began work on the rock. Ever built a rock? Neither had I but I started with a couple of 2x12 boards and just let my imagination take over from there.

Here's the back profile I started with; it would change -


This is the internal support for the cross -


This is assembled with construction adhesive and screws for the most part, some areas have Titebond and 18 gauge nails. I kerfed the 2x4's to bend them to shape but this shape changed also. I felt it was too symmetrical on the base so I changed one side.


Hand holes cut in back, profile changed on base, levelers ready to attach -


Levelers installed; these would get changed, as well. I didn't like the look because rocks don't usually sit up on three legs, they sit on the ground. So I moved them later -


Internal structure and bracing -


This was NOT fine woodworking! It was crude, free hand, grab the jig saw and get after it - kind of fun, actually -


The next few stages get ugly, crude, and sort of comical on building the rock but it's late so I'll post more tomorrow if I can work it in.

Enjoy!
David
 

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David - I actually like your background story - cures my insomnia.

Just kidding - I like the fact that you set the background for the build. Waiting for the next chapter to this story.
 

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The rock is almost the way we used to build 3 dimensional set pieces for theater productions, but heavier. Looking forward to seeing more.
 

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A good background story when combined with a good project how-to always makes for a enjoyable read. Looking forward to seeing where this one goes :)
 

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Great undertaking!

For the rock all you had to do was make a rough frame, wrap chicken wire around it, and finish it with materials from Van Dykes, or another place where taxidermists get their fake rock stuff from.

Or, you could really blow Rick's mind, and get a real rock and cut the hole for the cross with your CNC. lol

Gonna be cool to see the finished piece.

Where did you gert the wood from, and how much did it take?
 
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Love the story, looking forward to the rest of the build.
 

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Did the read before the pictures. Yep - nothing happens by accident. Looking forward for the finished project.
 

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David
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Discussion Starter #13
I'm waiting on glue to dry on the cross so I figured it was a good time to post a little on this build. I told you the next steps were a bit comical so when you see the first photo you'll understand; it looks like a 5-year old trying to build a fort! This is one mess of thin resawn 2x4's just sort of slapped onto the frame. While there doesn't appear to be any rhyme or reason as you look at the photos I had a clear vision of what I wanted the entire time. It was just a matter of getting there...

So this is how it look after an hour or so of resawing and slapping boards on - pretty crude looking!


And after a bit more time -


I used sheetrock joint self adhesive mesh tape to bridge the gaps and then used joint compound to smooth the transition areas. I didn't take any photos but I used a razor knife to trim the thin pieces to a better shape before this process. Sandy didn't mind spreading a little of the joint compound and since she's easier on the eyes than me I took her picture instead of the other way around.


This is after the first round of joint compound -


Messy and dusty when sanded so we carried it outside -


Giving the rock some character -


I took some artistic liberties and drew this quickly in Fusion 360, then cut it on the CNC - three crosses to the empty tomb. This is on the side and won't really be visible unless you know it's there and you're looking for it.


Texturing the rock using Kilz with Walnut dust mixed in -


Getting closer to looking like a rock -


My target rock, a piece of granite from the base of El Capitan (I wasn't really trying to take it from the Park but it got caught up in a ground tarp and followed me home). I didn't want the rock to be this dark but this is sort of the look I wanted -


Now it's a rock! I used acrylic black mixed with Kilz to get a dark gray and then used a stiff brush to spatter the rock. After a round of that I used the pure black acrylic for the black. Then I used a cheap 3" brush and some more of the Kilz with Walnut dust and black mixed in to lightly pat a few areas.


Close up photo -


As I said earlier I didn't like the way the levelers showed - it looked like a rock on three legs (which is what it was, come to think of it...). So I moved them inward and now they're almost completely hidden. They'll unscrew about 2" but there shouldn't be a need for them to be turned more than once to level this on stage. I also profiled the bottom rim so it wasn't just a smooth 2x4.


Sandy painted the back with Kilz and I painted it black with the acrylic. I may come back and put some flat black on top of it - too glossy. Looks sort of like the Space Shuttle to me - LOL!


For now this is the final look. I'm thinking of spattering some more black on it but we'll see. The weight of the rock is about 70 pounds.


Ok, glue's probably dry so I'm heading back out to the shop and I can smell supper - even better!

Thank for following along!
David
 

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David
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Thank goodness you fixed that rock. For a while I thought you were making a Darth Vader helmet!!
I had commented to my daughter that it looked like a Storm Trooper helmet so I guess we're on the same path - LOL!
 

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David
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Ok, on to the cross itself! The design I'm using for this is monocoque with bulkheads, similar to an airplane fuselage or wing, even some race cars. This construction is very light weight but also very strong, especially with the skin attached. In this case the skin is Walnut rather than aluminum.

To make the frame rails we cut some 2x4's down but you talk about some wood moving when it was cut - wow! How can a 2x4 be so straight to start with but when you rip it into smaller pieces be sooooo bent and twisted??!!

Here's what most of it looked like after cutting (these were two of the best in the group) -


Anyway, we cut the 2x4's into about 6 strips each and set them aside. I figured they'd be better off in a couple of days and then I'd trim them down even more. In order to build the monocoque frame I needed bulkheads so about 15 minutes with Fusion 360 and I had G-code for the CNC to cut 9 identical pieces out of 1/2" MDF.


The Walnut and Curly Maple pieces were very nice and long but not long enough to go all the way to the bottom of the support inside the rock. That meant I needed a support so I grabbed some scrap pieces and two of the bulkheads to make this support. It comes to about 2" below the top of the rock where the better woods will attach. There wasn't any sense in wasting the good wood to go all the way down to the support anyway.


It was time to dry fit and test the layout with the frame rails and bulkheads along with the Walnut side panels. I'm grateful to have a nice flat surface with the table saw and extension but nearly every time I use it for that I end up taking stuff down and setting it up dozens of times so I can use the table saw. But, as I said, I'm grateful for what I have!


In order to test the stand and beginnings of the cross structure we have to use the kitchen where the ceilings are 10' high. The cross stands 9' high and the ceiling in our shop (two car garage) is only 8' high.


One thing I made sure to do is mark every piece as to cutting instructions. This wood was expensive and I don't really have backup pieces in the event of a mental error or other mishap. So every piece is marked 'cut side', groove width and location, 'don't cut this side', etc. And the pieces that are to be continuous up the sides, back, front are all marked so that as we worked them the orientation would remain correct. The Walnut is unsteamed and I wanted to take advantage of the sapwood along with some of the blemishes, knots, etc. so I had to be careful to always be working the correct side.


At this point I needed the ripped 2x4 pieces cut into smaller strips and as I expected they were much easier to keep straight now that they're smaller.


As I looked at the strips and saw that each had some small degree of bow I picked some that I could flip and mount opposing each other to pre-tension the frame and bulkheads. So these that look so bowed here will oppose each other on the bulkheads and should increase the strength. Each piece is glued to the bulkhead with Titebond and then I used 23 gauge pin nails to secure each contact spot.


Making certain the bulkheads are square to the frame rails -


Side panels cut and fitted -


Back panel test fit (the Curly Maple side will be the show side most of the time so I've just grown accustomed to calling that the front and the Walnut side is the back) -


I didn't take any photos of the setup for cutting the grooves but that was on a router table with 1/4" Freud two flute bit and a fence. Here's a close up of the Walnut back panel and a side -


Here's a close up of the intersection joints (this bulkhead isn't glued at this point) -


Testing the layout of the cross beam pieces -


Building the cross bar frame -


And that's all for tonight; I've been at this since about 8 this morning and it's after 11 pm. I'll hit it hard tomorrow and hopefully get it completed to take up to the church. I may end up taking it without a finish and then bring it back home to shoot this coming week - we'll see.

Nite, folks!
David

PS - thanks for following along!
 

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Nice job. I had my doubts about the base for awhile, but it turned out well. I think you're right to leave it unfinished. I do like the light weight construction, making the very most of the special wood.
 

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Oliver (Prof. Henry)
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This has been an excellent project report, David. The rock turned out great and I really admire the engineering you've put into the cross. Truly a wonderful combination of creativity and skill. Well done on many levels. Looking forward to the continuing report.
 

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I may come back and put some flat black on top of it - too glossy. Looks sort of like the Space Shuttle to me - LOL!
Best of both worlds Star Wars and NASA. Praying for you so it will be done tonight and that you get some shuteye. Son Rise Service comes early.
 
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