Monday, October 31, 2016

Junk Wood Project: Wood-Burned Stools

It's time for a new junk wood project.  This time the junk wood I plan on using is from the plywood bench top and shelf from this work bench I recently disassembled.

In addition to not really needing that work bench, I actually really needed the half-inch plywood for a gift idea for my mother.

Steve Ramsey from Woodworking for Mere mortals has a youtube video in which he prints an image onto a sheet of labels, but without labels on it - just the waxy backer.  He then takes that waxy printout and applies it to wood.

You can see his video by clicking here.  It's a very awesome thing to be able to print onto wood.  My first few attempts at doing this failed miserably.  I finally was able to get a print onto wood, but by using an iron-on transfer sheet.

In preparation for failing a lot, I cut the plywood into many smaller pieces, so now I have plenty of plywood to play with.

So I decided to make yet another stool - but this time I'll be using two of my brand new toys - the first being my new band saw! 

Yes!  I finally got one!

I'll get to my other brand new toy a little later.

So I drew some curves into a piece of plywood and began cutting it out 2 legs for this stool.

I still have a lot of experience to gain when it comes to using the band saw.  Some of these curves did not come out so great.

But I was able to fix everything with my drum sander attached to my drill press.

Once all the curves were fixed, I sanded the edges with fine sandpaper on my mouse sander.

Next I used several different thicknesses of scrap wood and cut an angle on each side.  These will be the supports that connect the 2 legs and the top together.

The angle will make the stool's legs spread out a bit.  Next I glued and nailed the support to one of the legs...

...and I used a spacer to align a second support which was also glued and nailed to the leg.

Then I repeated the process with the other leg.

Then I flipped it over and attached the top with more glue and nails.

And this stool is done.

...done with construction, that is.  Next I plan on using my other brand new toy...

...a propane torch!  This is definitely not as pricey as a band saw, but it's a new toy!

I had originally bought this a short time ago to give myself an introduction to welding (Aluminum and copper - easy stuff first).  But I haven't gotten around to getting any materials to weld yet, so I thought it would be interesting to cook the stool a little and see how it looks.  Before using I thoroughly read all the safety instructions...

...and put on flame retardant gloves and cap.  Safety never looked so badass.

I turned it on and a pretty blue flame came out!

Then I slowly began scorching the wood stool.

The torch definitely brings out a lot of the wood grain - which looks very cool!

Both sides were made out of a rough, cheaper plywood...

...the top was a very smooth birch plywood, and as you can see the heat did not pull out a lot of the details as it did on the rougher plywood.

The supports were made out of pine, and they look awesome cooked.

So with that experiment done, I built 4 more stools out of the leftover material.

Then I repeated the process of burning each of the 4 new stools.  Can you tell which one has a leg made out of birch plywood?

Oh look - another side made out of birch plywood.

After a short while I had finish toasting the stools.

Now I want to see what they look like with various finishes.  The first I tried was my go-to wood stain of choice - Jacobean.

You can very easily see the wood grain, but Jacobean is a dark stain and its not so apparent that this was cooked with a torch.

So I went to the only other wood stain I had, which was a Red mahogany.

This stain is lighter than the Jacobean, and so the wood grain shows a little more prominently.

Next I decided to use another of my favorites - Danish oil.

I applied the Danish oil and it did exactly what I wanted... colored the wood but also visible left the burns.

For the fourth stool I decided to try a product that was totally new to me - Minwax Wood-sheen.

This stuff was....interesting to apply to the wood.  The consistency was that of runny toothpaste, and I had to use a lot of it to fully cover the stool.

But the burned wood clearly shows up nicely.  This stuff also dried very quickly (about 15-20 minutes on this 104-degree day).

For the fifth stool I'm not going to do any staining.

Since I had fun with the blow torch, I decided to touch-up my work tables while the stains on the stools dried.

I let all the stools fully dry overnight.

The next morning I prepped for polyurethane.  I plan on using this new oil-modified polyurethane I found recently.

I applied a first coat with a good quality brush, and I was not happy...

No matter how I applied the poly, it left air bubbled everywhere!  I'm no stranger to air bubbles when applying polyurethane, but I'm always able to get rid of them.  That was not the case here.

I attempted a second coat, this time using a foam brush and the bubbles persisted.  So I waited until the poly dried and began sanding off all the bubbles.

Once sanding was done and the stools were cleaned I resorted to use Polycrylic spray.

As always, the polycrylic worked wonderfully.

After a few coats I let the stools dry over night.

The next morning I sanded the stools and cleaned them up.

Another project using junk wood complete.

Despite the horrible Polyurethane I started off with, these stools look pretty good.

Believe it or not, my favorite stool is the one that had no stains added to it.

Aside from having fun making these stools, I enjoyed my first project with my new band saw and blow torch!

I need to burn more wood in the future!
Thanks for reading!


  1. Hi timbo, i was wondering if i could use one of you bowling photos for a logo contest for the USBC. If not that is perfectly okay.