With the first concept mocked up digitally, it was time to make the leap from concept to reality.
So here’s a quick recap of my first post on the subject: my mom has wanted a backyard sign for our dog for years. Since I was finally in a position to make things, I suggested that I should try my hand at it. My mom and I discussed what we wanted the sign to be like, and here’s the digital concept I made:
The first step was to find some wood I could use for this project. I have a sister who lives in the same street as my mom and I, who in healthier times liked to make wood things out of discarded pallets. She was looking for somebody to take the old pallets away, and I was looking for free wood, so that worked out nicely for both of us. I managed to arrange help to transport them to my dad’s place (where I do my crafting) and stored them in his mini-shed:
Unfortunately, these pallets had been outside in my sister’s backyard for years at this point, unprotected and exposed to the elements. I wasn’t going to be able to use that wood in the state it was. I dug through our shed at home and found our old Black & Decker sander. I took it with me to my dad’s, and my dad and I went on an adventure to find some sanding paper for it. We didn’t find any exact matches (that I could afford) but I found something close enough for a reasonable price. With my dad’s help I broke off three planks from one of the pallets, and cut them to size with a jig saw.
And then the sanding began.
Lots and lots of sanding.
You can really see the difference between the weather-beaten unsanded planks (up top) and the one I’d partially sanded (on the bottom). Thanks to my disabilities it ended up taking me three full hours to sand just these three planks on one side (I had to take a lot of breaks – the sanding vibration does not agree with my joints). But the result was worth it. Compare this to how the pallet wood looked originally:
The next step would be to cut out the doggy-biscuit shape, but I didn’t trust myself to freehand that. What I did instead was to go back to my concept art, shown at the top of this post. I measured the size of the wood planks I had outside and and resized the image to my best approximation of what its size should be using physical dimensions. I then created a new image with just the basic doggy-biscuit shape outlined in black and printed that over several A4-sized pages, which I taped together into something that mostly fit the planks I had outside:
I knew I was on the right track, so I went back inside and cut out my taped-together template along the black outline:
I was then able to transfer the shape to the wood by following the edge of the paper template and drawing a simple pencil line, and then cutting each of the three planks along that line. The project was really starting to come together at this point:
What I didn’t like, however, was that sharp edge. Doggy biscuits generally have a soft edge, and I wanted that for my sign as well. The first thing I did was… more sanding. But since I now had to deal with all of these curves, I wasn’t able to use the large sander anymore. Luckily, I had my rotary tool, which I was able to use to create a sharp bevel:
Before I continued, I decided this was a good opportunity to add the two vertical supports in the back to keep the three front-facing planks together.
From there, I had a good starting point to be able to create a soft edge using regular sanding paper and doing the remaining sanding by hand. I started with 120 grit sandpaper for several passes, then went over all of it with 180 grit sandpaper for another few passes, and then finished off with 400 grit sandpaper to get a super-smooth, super-soft edge:
Just for good measure, I also took another bit of 400 grit sandpaper and sanded the entire front of the sign until it felt silky-smooth. It did create a bit of a mess, though. This is why you wear masks when sanding…
At this point, I had the entire doggy-biscuit shape of sign ready and fully sanded, and it would only need one more step before we got to the lettering phase: a whitewash that would give the sign a bit of a bleached, white look, without sacrificing the natural wood grain details that make wood so wonderful and smoothing. Here’s what it looked like when I was done:
Isn’t that great? That’s most of the sign finished, right there. From old weather-worn pallets to a doggy-biscuit shaped sign. I just had to let the whitewash settle and dry, and then I could come back to it later for all of the detail work, including lettering…
… or so I thought, at the time. I didn’t know it then, but it would be a while yet before I finished the project. I tried to be too fancy, and I tried things with bad tools were going to ruin a lot of work. But we’ll get into the detail detail another time.
I hope you liked seeing how the main shape of the diggy sign biscuit came together. Please leave a like or comment, or share these posts with your friends. Maybe consider donating a few bucks so I can keep doing these projects — most tools and materials aren’t free! Thank you for your support! 🙂