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Project Information

Built this for a guy I worked with for his going away present. The 3 channels cut in the base are to display challenge coins (which are a traditional gift exchanged between military folks, usually with a unit's logo on one side of the coin).

Used a Milescraft router pantograph to do the engraving. Even with that helping me the engraving was much more challenging and slower going then I expected. Next time I think I'll go with a less intricate font.

The wood is 4/4 walnut with the exception of the back, which has a 1/4 piece of red oak with signatures. I made 2 signature pieces, one in which everyone singed in pen, and one in pencil. I wasn't sure which one would turn out better under the finish. It turns out that water based finished smears pen ink pretty badly.

I had a blast using my new Veritas Bevel Up jointer on this. It was the only plane I used to convert the rough sawn walnut into very smooth boards. I had to sand the end grain, so I'm thinking about getting a block plane to go with it. I have to say that I was anti-planning until this project. Planed woods definitely look much better than even 320 sanded woods. Whereas sanded woods look very matte, planed wood has this almost "3d" look to is as the light bounces around on the surface. My guess is that certain parts of the grain are less opaque than others, giving it a subsurface scattering effect.

The finish worked out pretty well on this (my first time using walnut). After 3 coats of minwax polycrylic that I lightly sanded with a 3M 320 pad I could almost read the lettering in my Stanley screw driver in the reflection. I love the water based poly because it dries in 2 hours, enabling me to complete finishing in one night. That it doesn't smell and cleans up by dunking the brush in a cup of water doesn't hurt, either.

My only issue in this project was the Milescraft pantograph. It is a bargain (only $50 or so), but it is very flimsy and has a lot of play. The very first thing I did with it when I opened it was to have the stylus roll off my worktable and snap the writing end off. I was amazed at how fragile it was (think dropping a ballpoint pen off a desk and breaking it). I had to get a round map-pin and carefully tap it on the end of the stylus to use as a replacement for the broken plastic tip.



11,362 Posts
Cool build! The walnut is gorgeous, great design and the fonts are beautifully made.