Baba (Macedonian term for grandmother) has been aging; I wanted to make her something special. For the holidays this year, the whole family flew back to Michigan to spend 8 days reminiscing and enjoying each other's company. After all, we never how much longer we have. A few years ago, she got a pacemaker. In 2014, she lost her husband of 60 years. She's getting tired. She's getting old.
This year, however, she got a new heart.
All I have to do it glue the wood, design the model on the computer, and press print on the CNC machine.
With all the talk of what technology can do, and how it can make our lives easier, there are instances in which the sweat of a human being can be seen in the quality of a product. While it is true that my finished product would've been much closer to perfection, that's not what handmade gifts were meant to be. There are times for automation, but this wasn't one of them.
Here were the steps:
- Design a stencil of the heart design, and print it using a 3D printer
- Rout the bottom layer of purple heart to give some depth to the base
- Cut out the bottom layers of the heart with a jigsaw
- Cut out the other two layers of the heart with a jigsaw
- Glue and clamp the layers together
- Sand like crazy
- Sand some more
- Take a break
- Keep sanding
- In total, 8 hours of sanding, going from 60 up to 320 grit
- Plane the lid so that it isn't thick and heavy, but thin and light
- Using a Dremel, cut out an inlet for the lid to rest in the jewelry box top
- Apply four layers of poly-oil to the interior and exterior of the box and lid
- Using a flocking gun, dyed adhesive, and fabric, spray the interior of the box with the felt
- Let it dry overnight
- Shake out the excess
- Flip the box over
- Using a branding iron, put your mark on it
- Stand back and enjoy
What I learned
I learned that I'm capable of doing something pretty cool without the help of technology.
I learned that cutting wood out from a stencil doesn't mean that the cuts will be close to each other. Not even a little. Damn, that was a lot of sanding.
I learned that using a branding iron is no joke. Once it was ALL DONE, I stamped the bottom of the box. When I pull the iron back, only "EVENS" and "RAFTED" showed up. Imagine seeing a scar this bad on something you were finished with. It was rough. Re-sand, re-apply the poly-oil, and try the stamp again. It worked. Whew.
I learned that my boys are watching me. During the process, they were excited to help, excited to learn, and so happy to see the final product.
I learned that small mistakes are a good thing. Yeah, ok, so I know this already, but it was confirmed through the project. As a perfectionist, making a mistake on something as permanent as a wooden box is not an easy thing to fix. I had to be alright with not having it perfect. In fact, I had to want it to not be perfect. Big shift, indeed.
I learned that, no matter how technology evolves and finds ways to make our lives better, easier, more efficient, there's nothing quite like handing over an empty box filled with love and effort.
I learned that times have not changed.
I learned that hard work pays off.
I learned that the best gifts are hand made.
Happy "Hand Crafted" Fishing