Part of a family tree from part of a family tree

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Project by jfk4032 posted 10-22-2011 10:42 PM 2736 views 3 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My father who is now 82 grew up in a military family right behind Walter Reed Hospital in Washington DC. I remember their family house as a little kid and the magnificent cherry tree that was in their small backyard. It took up most of their backyard it was so big and I remember climbing up in it and playing around as a kid. After a storm at some point, a large 7 foot limb about 6 inches around had fallen and I’m not sure of any of those details. My father kept this cherry tree limb for at least 40-50 years moving it from one garage to another as we switched houses growing up until today.

Having just gotten into woodworking recently I noticed the tree limb this past Summer in his garage and was filled in on the story. I never really paid much attention to it growing up, although I must have walked past it hundreds of times. I’m not sure why my Dad kept it all of these years or if he ever had any idea of what to do with it. So, I thought about it for a while and decided I would take it and make a gift for my both my parents since he really isn’t doing much with his woodworking tools today.

I have three children as does my sister and my parents adore their 6 grandchildren so getting some inspiration from some other postings I’ve seen I was going to make portraits of them. I cut part of the tree limb into rounds for the 6 portraits and another section into boards to be used for the frame. I converted the kid’s photographs into scroll pattern portraits within Photoshop using the kid’s high school graduation pictures so the they would look similar in age and dress.

After cutting the limb into reasonable sized logs with a chainsaw, I cut the rounds and planks on a bandsaw. I sanded the rounds and planks very fIat on my new Jet 16-32 drum sander and scroll cut the portraits using FD UR #1 blades on a Hegner scroll saw. I cut these at a very slow speed and with switching out the blades frequently so I had no burning at all on the end grain cherry.

I mounted the finished portrait rounds with a combination of wood glue and CA glue onto a nice piece of wenge that I resawed into a book match for both and also cut some thin wenge strips to glue in between two pieces of the cherry for a two toned look frame. I then milled the sandwiched planks for the frames on my router table with a couple of decorative accents and cut them on a sliding miter table attachment on my table saw for a nice tight fit.

I finished the rounds with 4 coats of Deft satin spray combined with 400 grit sanding with a soft flexible sanding pad attachment mounted in a 90 degree drill. I used wipe-on satin poly for the wenge background and the frame pieces.

I’m pleased with how the finished pieces came out and look forward to presenting both family sets to my parents. They’ll be family heirlooms for generations to come.

-- ---Joel; Central MD...rookie empter nester and getting back into woodworking!

6 comments so far

View KnotCurser's profile


2040 posts in 4406 days

#1 posted 10-23-2011 01:03 AM

I am very impressed with this work! Cutting end-grain wood is VERY difficult. Cutting cherry end-grain is next to impossible. You have managed this task repeated times!

These portraits are fantastic, simply fantastic.

You need to seal these behind glass as they are a true work of art.


-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: [email protected] /

View muleskinner's profile


941 posts in 3774 days

#2 posted 10-23-2011 03:53 AM

I’d say what we have here is an instant family heirloom. The history of the wood along with the context of the subject and the artist make it priceless. A great story.

-- Visualize whirled peas

View Woodenwizard's profile


1369 posts in 4380 days

#3 posted 10-23-2011 05:16 AM

This is what I call a full package. Great story, outstanding use of the wood, and professional workmanship. Well done.

-- John, Colorado's (Wooden Wizard)

View Time2beupinAZ's profile


453 posts in 4299 days

#4 posted 10-23-2011 06:42 PM

Wow what a great story and a wonderful project as well. I cant imagine the look on there face when they see this wonderful project. I agree this is PRICELESS!!!!!

-- Tim - I usally measure twice after I cut......then I know for sure that I cut it short.....

View ttleigh's profile


28 posts in 3793 days

#5 posted 10-23-2011 10:51 PM

What a great idea! Looks wonderful!

-- tt in Delaware

View Tim's profile


273 posts in 3195 days

#6 posted 11-04-2013 12:42 PM


-- No tree was harmed in the making of this project...... wait a minute, yes there was, uh oh

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