The Patriot Tigers High School Club for Veterans, asked us to help out, and we are!
My name is John Morris, and I am the founder of The Patriot Woodworker. Our community was founded on the principles of sharing, mentoring, and learning from fellow woodworkers, and above all, we have one thing in common, we all support the men and women who serve our nation. And we pretty much take on any task or challenge for our veterans that is asked of us, with the help of our sponsors.
Recently I was asked by my own daughters (Patriot Tigers) if The Patriot Woodworker's could support their high school club efforts to host a dinner for the faculty of their school disctrict, of whom are also veterans. I asked them what can we do for them, contribute funds to help offset the costs of food? Or possibly myself and some fellow local Patriot Woodworker's could stand at the entry way and welcome the veterans to the event? How about a valet? None of the above! DUH! Dad, build us some plaques, your a woodworker! "That's right!" I stated, I almost forgot!
Thus the project began. We are building 32 each, 7" x 9" x 3/4" solid hardwood plaques. Sounds easy right? Well it is, but there is a good amount of time it takes to construct simple squares of wood that feel perfect to the touch, and are flawless to the eye.
To start off, one of my daughters and myself took a drive into town to pick up some lumber for the project, we ended up at Reel Lumber of Riverside CA. I like the store, it's a small mom and pop outfit in appearance, but it has a pretty big backing in the actual company. We go there frequently for our hardwood and exotic purchases, and the staff is tops.
With a very keen eye on the part of my daughter, we spent about an hour at the store looking for the boards that were "just right" for her. And we came away with some nice 4/4 walnut, figured maple, and birch. We had the gentleman cut the boards in half so we could fit them in our small Toyota Corolla with the rear seats folded down. (Note: Last year our neighbor totaled my pickup truck, and we have not been able to replace it, as luck would have it, the driver was uninsured!)
We came home and stacked the boards on my workbench and let them set for a week before I commenced the project.
To the right is Walnut, center is the Curly Maple, and left is Birch.
I was able to get out to the shop and get the boards cut and sized, edges chamfered, and all the plaques sanded to 150 for now. Later I'll work through the grits up to 600 in preparation for wipe on varnish.
I used a 45 degree 1/2" shank chamfer bit chucked up into my router table. My table is made by an outfit in Canada who sell the RT 1000 series router table, you can't beat the price, and the table is built very well, I have had mine for about 10 years now. The following image is the stock photo of the exact table I have.
When I route any edges on any project that involves routing all four edges of a board, the long grain, and the end grain, I always start by routing the end grain first, the reason is it is possible that you may have some kick out at the tail end of the pass as you rout the end grain, and if that happens, you can always clean it up when you shape the long grain edges. It's just a simple process that gives you a second chance instead of destroying a perfectly good board by not planning ahead for mistakes. The image below does not show the board in the proper position for end grain routing, I took the image as is, but when I fired up the router table I rotated the board 90 degrees to hit the end grain edges first.
After a few passes with the 32 boards (plaques) I now have something resembling a stack of plaques, ready for sanding.
Whenever possible I gang sand boards, just as I gang plane boards, the more the merrier, and it cuts down on the work considerably, not too mention it's just better on your sanding pad as well, it's always better on the sander pad when you can sand a flat area instead of sanding on edge, it's less stress on your sander and keeps your sander pad from wearing on the edges.
After a couple hours of sanding to 150 grit, I finally have some fine looking plaques that are shaping up to be something special, for some very special people. Later I'll take the boards to 600 before I use my wipe on finish.
A word about our supporters:
I'd like to thank our sponsors for helping us offset the costs of the lumber, our sponsors as shown on our home page, they pay money to have their advertising displayed in our community, and we in turn use those funds for projects like this, and much more, such as helping disabled veterans acquire machinery, tools and supplies for their own workshops, but this time we are leveraging sponsor's funding to fabricate some wonderful awards of appreciation for some men and women of a Southern CA school district, who served their nation.
For this project we also have a new helper, Anady's Trophies and Engravings. They are a top notch outfit, and they adore our military and veterans as do we, so we are a perfect match. Anady's has come waaaay down on their costs to help us procure some wonderful engraved brass plates to mount on the plaques, the plates will have a thank you message, and the name of the veteran. Anady's is instrumental in making this project a success, and we'd love to thank them for their support. I'd also like to ask anybody who needs trophies, engravings, or supplies, to look up Anady's, they'll ship to you. Their name has a lot of history in our valley, and they are a top notch outfit to work with. And the staff is so polite and professional.
The Club who asked us for help has their own website, please see them at Patriot Tigers Club.
The school district that employs our veterans, and who the event is being held for is San Jacinto Unified School District.