A Strange Evolution
This was an odd week. For a while, I’ve been trying to design a new advent calendar and wanted to build it this week so there would be time for viewers to complete it before December first. The concept was cool: Santa would descend a chimney each day until Christmas by removing a candy cane each day. Sort of like a Ker-plunk game.
After lots of struggling and SketchUpping, I scrapped the entire idea because the chimney would need to be nearly three feet tall in order to accommodate 25 candy canes. The whole thing looked weird. Maybe I’ll revisit it next year. If you would like to make an advent calendar, here’s a fun one from a couple years ago.
So this left me at square one for a project this week. After lots of thought and research (i.e Googling) I thought it might be fun to make a wooden wreath. I looked at many styles of wreaths, but didn’t see many wood versions, other than those made with sticks and twigs. Not very woodworky and bound to generate unhappy comments from viewers.
My next thought was to slice up a log and glue the discs together in a donut shape. Again, not much of a woodworking project. (But an idea I do still like.)
After some puttering around in my shop and my scrap wood reserves, I ran across some thin strips of wood I had left over from my trendy bendy photo stands. I began to play around with a few strips to see if I could somehow bend them into a wreath shape. Eventually, I looped the strips into “ribbons” and decided this might be a new take on wreath-making.
Making a Wooden Ribbon
It’s really easy to cut thin strips. Play around with your rip fence until you get them paper thin. It’s better (and safer) to keep the bulk of the board on the fence side and let the strips fall off, rather than trap them against the fence without support. I used a feather board to ensure each time I adjusted my fence it would slice off the same thickness. Also make sure your fence is accurately aligned with your saw blade: if it’s off a little, the strips will taper off thinner and thinner until you have nothing!
I have bent several types of wood, but I have had the best results with oak. It’s a very flexible wood and depending on how thin your cut your strips, it can be bent into very tight curves.
Not a Wreath
After assembling most of the bow, I was still calling it a wreath until I realized a wreath isn’t a wreath without a center hole! I still liked where the project was headed, but didn’t know what to call it or even what use it would have. “Decorative Wall Hanging” is unlikely to generate many views in a keyword search on YouTube!
After nearly completing the project and the video, it finally struck me that it looked like a bow for a Christmas gift. A big gift, I suppose. At the last minute of shooting the video I revisiting the wreath idea and hung it on my front door. I think it looks good, so it’s a dual-purpose project.
Sometimes you simply gotta forget about designing and planning and just experiment. The mere act of being in the shop – physically positioned near tools and lumber – can be inspiring.