From Red to DHV Project - Making my Kid's Xmas Present

IrishGypsyIrishGypsy UKSilver Member Posts: 407
I've decided to improve my rubbish DIY skills by creating a wooden height chart to mount on the wall of my kid's bedrooms.

But this won't be just any wall height chart. For each measurement, we'll add a photo of that day and attach it to the wall chart.

Not only that, but as I have extensive video editing experience, basic Photoshop experience, (and all the required tools), I'll also create an animated 4K video slideshow (one separate set for each year) and burn them onto printable blu-ray discs (along with proper blu-ray cases and custom-create case covets).

I'll then keep the blu-rays on a shelf that'll be attached to the top of the wall chart (one disc per year up to the age of 18).

I have some reclaimed pallets I can strip for practicing on and my wife has agreed to help with any art (numbers, drawings, etc.)

I'd like to use this topic as a place to garner feedback from woodwork pros like @nubby or anyone else and post up progress pics.

This'll be my first proper attempt at a 'big' woodworking project, so all help is genuinely appreciated.

I have access to:
* A Makita jigsaw
* Chisel set (+ honing guide and whetstone)
* Handsaws
* Clamps
* Drill
* Finishing Sander (with 120 paper)
* Other grades of sandpaper
* Woodglue 

2340 x 4160 - 2M


  • Adam_SAdam_S Queenslander!Silver Member Posts: 1,893

    Do you have an idea of the sort of thing you want to make?

    If you're after doing something like this...

    ...then the easiest way to do it that I can think of is to get some pre-cut pine board from the hardware store, sand it, put the marks on and then finish it with a nice stain.

    Here's a fairly decent how to page.

    "But it doesn't matter, because it's just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love." - Bill Hicks

  • frillyfunfrillyfun East PodunkGold Women Posts: 3,386
    For the numbering I think I'd print it off, and trace it onto the board with carbon paper (do they even make that anymore?)....the way they do tattoo stencils.  No help from wife needed.
  • nubbynubby Right HereSilver Member Posts: 1,964
    @IrishGypsy what species of wood are the pallets? @frillyfun suggestion of tracing paper would work quite well. Unless you think this would be a good project that you and your wife could have fun working together on it. 

    Another thing you can try is to trace the letters on and very lightly score the outline with a razor/exacto knife and use a stain pen of a contrasting colour to the main body stain. Scoring with a knife helps prevent the stain from bleeding over the lines. 

    It is however recomended to practice on scrap wood to get the "feel" of doing it.

    I literally had a ton of pallet wood  that I used to build side tables, head/foot boards, reproduction antique ice boxes (which made awesome change tables for our daughters). I still have one of them in the house. 

    I finally cut a lot of the wood up to be burnt as hidden nails wreaked havoc on my planer knives. 

    Enjoy your project!!
  • IrishGypsyIrishGypsy UKSilver Member Posts: 407
    I've no idea the type of wood the pallets are made out of. Any easy way to find out?

    My thoughts for the numbers and letters was to get my wife to hand draw them on and I'll chisel them out and then stain the numbers darker than the chart itself.

    I could get a router and some bits, but I want to keep the cost down for now.
  • LennyLenny AustraliaMember Posts: 123
    Look at using word art, type out the numbers. You can trace them, or cut them out to form a negative. It should give you a nice guide to work from. Even if you chisel take @nubby advice a score the outside of your shapes, letters, numbers... It will help give you a sharp edge to work from. Makes chiseling easier.
  • MrGrimmMrGrimm Silver Member Posts: 971
    I've never used one, but what about a cheap wood burning engraver pen?
  • nubbynubby Right HereSilver Member Posts: 1,964
    @IrishGypsy if your thinking of possibly going with a router (for small projects) you can pick up a laminate trimmer and use small (1/4") shank bits in it. 

    I have one for counter top work but I mostly use it for rounding edges over. The bit size is limited to the hole in the base (unless you enlarge it a little. Some trimmer bases are also designed to accept template guides. 

    I like the trimmer as it is small and quite easy to control in tight spots. 

    For larger jobs I have a 1/2" Bosch mounted in my table saw extension and an old porter cable with both 1/4" and 1/2" collets. 

    A good hand held rotary tool with a flexible extension is also good to have. They're great for pumpkin carving too. 
  • IrishGypsyIrishGypsy UKSilver Member Posts: 407
    edited October 3
    @nubby I can get a well-reviewed 1/4" & 1/2" full size router for about half the price of a laminate trimmer.

    @Lenny I have thought of using printed numbers and letters as templates, but my wife enjoys drawing so I was hoping we could enjoy doing it together.

    I've watched a few chisel videos for numbers and letters, so I'll practice it on some pallet wood tonight and post up my thoughts/results.
  • IrishGypsyIrishGypsy UKSilver Member Posts: 407
    edited October 3
    @WheelMan I'm only using the pallets as practice (but I'll look into lumberyards for sourcing other woods to work on). The finished article will be created on decent wood as it needs to last 18+ years.

    I'll get everyone's thoughts on what wood to buy in November when I start working on the final version. :)

    If chiseling is too hard, then I may simply go with @MrGrimm and burn them in. I'm a very fast learner on many things, which will hopefully serve me well here. Or it might not and I'll adapt as appropriate.
  • John3John3 SeattleSilver Member Posts: 1,396
    Using a router to put numbers etc., onto a piece of wood is not an easy task...nor is using a chisel set to cut them into the wood.  It looks easy when someone else is doing it.  Go for it if you have an interest, but don't expect it to go easily or fast.

    I like the idea of having your wife paint them in...makes it a joint project, which is pretty cool.  I grew up with the wood-burn thing...I personally don't like the look that much, but that is probably from one too many cub-scout project growing up.

    I would go for a belt sander before a can hold it in a vise and move the wood over it to round edges, smooth flat surfaces, etc..  It makes quick work and is easier to learn to use than a router, and more versatile.

    And use a good quality wood with no knots. Knots are hard to work around unless you know what you are doing, and a few dollars more spent on good quality wood is well worth it.
    The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep.
  • nubbynubby Right HereSilver Member Posts: 1,964
    @IrishGypsy if you plan on doing a lot of chisel work, start off with softer woods like pine or basswood. Always pay attention to the grain direction as well. Check the edge of the board and see if the grain is running up and chisel in that direction. Less chance of tearing out the wood. Same goes with using hand planes. Power tools i.e; jointers, planers and routers also should be cut with the grain to prevent tearout. 

    If in the future you plan on using plywood sheets and decide to keep woodworking as a hobby, I would recommend looking for a used panel saw like they have in the big box stores for cutting sheets for customers. 

    I picked one up locally for $200 did a little work to it but it sure makes cutting sheets down easy. The one I got is an old DeWalt 3480 made with a wooden frame.


    Once I adjusted it, it's accurate to 1/32" across a 4' cut. You can also find plans online if you want to build one. I like the fact I don't have to wrestle with the cumbersome sheets once they are in the saw and since I build cabinets, I go through plenty of them. It doesn't take up much space which is the main reason I bought it. 

    What at will you be using for a finish on your project? Will you be spraying or brushing the finish on?

    640 x 1136 - 702K
  • IrishGypsyIrishGypsy UKSilver Member Posts: 407
    edited October 5
    @nubby I plan on trying them out. They only cost £7 for 7 chisels and the dual-sided whetstone. So if I don't like using them, no biggie.

    What's your thoughts on the following router?

    1/3 the price of the handheld laminate cutters, but takes same 1/4 cutting bits. Has quite a lot of decent reviews and and I can justify £37 (versus £90+).

    I'll be heading to Wickes on my lunch break to look at their wood stock, so I'll take pics of stock and prices to get everyone's feedback before I buy any.

    I'd like to try woodworking so I can build things my family can use for years to come (and it's a life skill I can - hopefully - pass down to my son in years to come).

    I was thinking I may paint them, but perhaps staining or varnishing them is better? Any preferences? I'm all ears and willing to listen to all feedback from the pros :)
  • nubbynubby Right HereSilver Member Posts: 1,964
    @IrishGypsy that router looks like it would be fine. I'm not too familiar with European tools other than Bosch, Festool, and Fein.

    I've had good luck finding quality hand tools at yard/garage sales and local classified ads and the prices have been pennies on the dollar. I have also bought old furniture for next to nothing and taken it apart and recycled the wood into other projects. 

    Painting or stain and varnish are a personal preference. Consider using the same wood and finish as the trim in the house. You said the project would be around for many years. Just a thought. 
  • frillyfunfrillyfun East PodunkGold Women Posts: 3,386
    I think stain holds up better for heirloom type projects.   Paint can look beat up after a while, but if you stain, and finish it right it's something your kids will be able to pass along to your grandkids.

  • LennyLenny AustraliaMember Posts: 123
    I find paint a bit easier on the first few projects as you can fill in nail holes etc, sand and paint. Oil and stain requires the wood to be finished to a higher standard. Definitely try out whatever you think on the trial boards you intend to practise the chisels on. I would also use the the same wood to practice the joints.
  • Adam_SAdam_S Queenslander!Silver Member Posts: 1,893
    edited October 9

    Edit. Wrong thread. Oops.

    "But it doesn't matter, because it's just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love." - Bill Hicks

  • IrishGypsyIrishGypsy UKSilver Member Posts: 407
    After doing lots of looking around locally for suitable wood in places like Wickes, B&Q, Home base, etc, as well as trying that limber yard, I decided to order two pre-made solid oak height charts with a moving measurement bar I'm the middle. They should be arriving any day now.

    My wife pissy at me spending my money on them without "asking her first". I just raised an eyebrow and asked her if she still wanted to decorate them or not and left it at that.

    My wife has agreed to decorate each one for the kids and I won't have room for the Blu-Ray discs. But, I can hang off a metal USB drive on each year and this will contain both the animated photo slideshow of their best pics, but also a folder of ALL pics we have of them for that year.

    My tools won't go to waste, as I need to modify my son's cot to enable my MIL to take him out and put him in the cot without bending over and I'll also male my son his bed when he grows out of his cot.
  • IrishGypsyIrishGypsy UKSilver Member Posts: 407
     @nubby @WheelMan Can anyone recommend best way to decorate/paint onto pre-varnished wood? My wife would like to customise the wall charts, but we're not sure the best ways to do this and ensure it looks good and stays on.
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