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Blog entry by dlcarver posted 05-17-2008 06:02 PM 6417 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have been carving Wedding Crosses, or Marriage Crosses for probably about 35 years now. Of course they must be custom made, and I need about 2 weeks to do one. They are usually made from white pine wood, and are 15” long x 10” across x 3/4” thick stock. It is self explanitory actually with the interlocking rings of marriage and the man’s first name on the left cross bar, and the girl’s first name on the right cross bar. Then under the rings down the vertical cross beam goes the month, the day of the month, and the year of marriage. These are also used for Anniversaries. I have also made them for special ocassions with out the interlocked rings with other printing marking the ocassion. I have also painted the lettering and rings Gold before, marking Golden Anniversaries.

I urge everyone to respect my right of design…. I have never seen another design like this with the names and dates. Thank You! ......... If you wish to order one please contact me… with shipping I would like to have 3 weeks notice.

Here is the layout in pencil

Here I have the top routed about 1/8” deep with a 1/4” bit. I usually start from the outside edges and route towards the center of the cross.

After routing pine the project has the fuzzies all over where routed. My next step is to remove these furry edges so the router can cut the proper depth with the 1/8” bit.
The next 2 photos show the fuzzies.

This picture shows the 1/4” to 1/8” adapter I made to hold my 1/8” bit in my 1/4” router chuck. I use to do this part with a Dremel tool routing attachment, but I couldn’t keep one from blowing up … I use to keep 3 of them on hand, just for that purpose. I used a piece of thick wall brass tubing that just fit both the router and the bit. Then cut a slot the length of the brass tubing…. the tightening of the router locking nut puts pressure enough on the brass tube to hold the bit firm. The next picture just shows the assembly mounted in the router.

This next step with photo #7 shows me stop cutting the rings, then rounding the rings with the same gouge tool(I use 2 or 3 different size gouges), but leaving the tool marks which show the hand work being done. Each corner within the rings are more deeply relieved to show more seperation from each other. They must look like they overlap each other.

Step 8 and 9 shows me doing the background of the lettering with a small round grinder in my flexible shaft Foredom. The round bit keeps the gouge handcarved look. As I get older and weaker, I must devise easier ways of doing some things. I also need to make a profit…. but I still do some larger (and smaller) projects entirely by hand. That’s the real fun part!

Step 10 I am tracing around all of the lines of the rings with a small V tool ( which does exactly as it indicates). It gives the lines a nice crisp look. ( This is a real trick, to carve with one hand and take a picture with the other). Something I have never done before.

This pic simply shows the type of bits used for this operation. I go over the whole background area removing the marks made by the router bit…. (giving the cross more of a handcarved effect, which it really is)

The next step I mark the center of the back by extending the cross sections all the way through, then tracing diagonal lines through the square and I have the exact center for a keyhole for hanging…. (so it will not hang whap-sided).

Here, I show the next part I will be routing, and the depth….from the back side… (the dark penciled in area), I leave about 1/8th inch for the rings to stay attached to the cross beams.

This pic shows my unique 1/4” bit (the best you will ever encounter)

This one shows the depth of my first cut… about 3/8” deep. .....I do this operation in 2 cuts to get to the rings.

Here, I use a 1/2” V tool to clear the corners behind the rings on the back side.

The corners are clear

After the corners are cleared, it will leave a webbing in the corners of the rings… I hold the cross up to the light over head, and use my pen knife to remove the webbing, which will free the rings from their “locked in wood mode ”, and look free standing. Shown in this pic from the front side.

I am setting the depth of my keyhole bit for hanging….. leave about a 1/8” lip for screw to grip.
  1. 22 shows the keyhole finished. The large part of the hole is the actual size of bit…. the part of the shank above the bit is also a cutter, allowing you to push the bit under the surface of the wood however far you care to, (to allow enough under surface to hold project) going no less than slightly more than the screw head diameter…..... which will probably be the diameter of the large hole.

    Then I take a pen knife and remove all sharp edges around the perimeters and sharpen the deep corners of my “N’s” and “M’s” and anywhere else that needs to be cleared.

    Before finishing, I run the whole cross (ever so slightly) over the contour sander (or flapper) to remove any (straggler fuzzies), or properly called deburring. I also mix up a mixture of about 1 to 1 elmers white glue and water….. ( a little bit thicker is fine if you want the color of the wood to show through) In this case I wanted to just lighten the surface of the letters somewhat. I paint this mixture on the face of the letters and the rings….. so they stand out and are more readable.

    Another view.

    I was urged by a couple of L J people to do a video, so not having the equipment nor the personel to do this I decided to do it in still life….. It also gives you a chance to look at some back ground and etceteras.
    I HOPE YOU ALL ENJOYED THIS SERIES!!! Thanks for your time!!! Dave
    PS. For some odd ball reason the first layout picture would not come out the size of the others….(I tried about 25 times) the pics are not like the originals….. I have not perfected that yet. Resizing does not seem to make the difference. Perhaps someone knows????
    Please notice that I use my no slip sandpaper trick for this whole project…. That I speak of in another blog.

-- Dave Leitem,Butler,Pa.,

6 comments so far

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4575 days

#1 posted 05-17-2008 06:05 PM

wow that is great. I’m sure that they will love it. i think its amazing how you do all this and its nice to see how you do some of these things. thanks for the post.

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4795 days

#2 posted 05-17-2008 07:01 PM

Great blog!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View ShannonRogers's profile


540 posts in 4595 days

#3 posted 05-17-2008 07:32 PM

Thanks for the blog and sharing your design. Great work. What I am most impressed with is that the wedding date is 6/8 and you already have it done. Most of my work is still has a tacky finish on it when I present it to the final owner!!

-- The Hand Tool School is Open for Business! Check out my blog and podcast "The Renaissance Woodworker" at

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4629 days

#4 posted 05-18-2008 12:23 PM


Thanks for the post. I enjoyed seeing the process of carving this piece.

Pine is a pretty wood, and I can understand using it for carving, but I was wondering if you ever tried something like this in hardwoods?

Well done.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View dlcarver's profile


270 posts in 4537 days

#5 posted 05-18-2008 01:32 PM

Hi Scott!
Yes I have done them in cherry, and I think one in walnut one time…. but I charge a little bit more in hardwoods…. it also takes a little more time. Thanks for asking !


-- Dave Leitem,Butler,Pa.,

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6869 posts in 4786 days

#6 posted 05-18-2008 06:21 PM

Hi Dave;

That’s a pretty neat photo journey you’ve provided us!

You have amazing control with a router.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

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