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Project Information

We all end up having multiple pieces of scrap wood left over after projects. What to do with them? Well, I have taken to making three-dimensional collages. The work can be tedious, but the good thing is that even those with pretty basic (and cheap) tools can make such items. (Saw blades need to be sharp, though.) My first one was fairly large and went into our den. However, later, smaller versions have been put up for sale. Here are some samples.

1. A basic version that may be getting sold to a friend (as a gift for his sister). If he changes his mind, it goes to my consignment outlet. About 12×22 inches, with pieces mounted on 1/2-inch mdf.

2. One done on a religious theme, as ordered by a religious person for his wife. Also about 12×22. (I leave it to the reader to guess which religion.)

3. The original large version in our den which before had a straight redwood frame, unfinished, and which I had previously posted as a project on this site. The updated version has a black-painted frame, which my wife ordered after my later, smaller versions were done with black. (The new ones have pine frames.) With the pieces mounted on 1/2-inch mdf, it weighs about 20 pounds, so strong wall hooks are advised. About 31×25 in size.

4. The back of one of the smaller ones, showing the board and hanger.

A variety of woods have been used, with all but the mdf backing board being scraps left over from furniture work. Woods include redwood, cedar, maple, dogwood, Brazilian cherry, walnut, oak, douglas fir, and pine. Actually, I think that with a bit of proper selective skill and various stains and colors one could get away with using just pine. Even chips with small knots can be used for effect. Chips are cut and power sanded down individually to get each to the desired thickness. Once cut to proper size the pieces are glued in place (using PL Construction Adhesive, which does not need tight clamping), the dried workpiece is given smooth cuts on all four sides, and the black-painted frame is screwed to the perimeter in four sections. (The frame can be made removable if a color or style change is wanted down the line.)

While the wood-looking pieces are stained with various Minwax brand stains, the bright colored stuff was done with food coloring! Food coloring, which can be water diluted for a more pastel effect, allows the wood grain to show through. Each collage gets 4 to 6 coats of Minwax satin varnish, with the first two brushed on to individual pieces and the last two to four sprayed onto the finished product prior to mounting the frame.

Incidentally, food coloring is really very durable. Just try washing it off of your fingers after doing a project. Alcohol, mineral spirits, lacquer thinner, and acetone will not do it, nor will brush-on varnish cause the stuff on the workpieces to smear. Brush scrubbing with automotive hand cleaner, followed by scrubbing with soap and water, will remove it from hands and fingers, however.

The tag options on this site do not include "art," by the way, nor do the wood options include dogwood (which I got from a tree cut down in my yard and dried out for a year), douglas fir, and redwood. (Note that all of the redwood I use is recycled stuff.) Also, I have rounded up a few pieces of bamboo flooring to experiment with in a collage, and that is not listed in the wood options, either.

Howard Ferstler



1,216 Posts
Bad thing is that I have a hard time throwing out scraps or any size and having seen this it will be harder.

Really enjoy these!


3,385 Posts
I really like to see works of art like this making a come back