Sunday, October 17, 2010

Monogrammed Tree Swing Seat

My sister Jenniffer sent me an email with a picture of a monogrammed wooden swing seat she found on Etsy that  she liked, and since it was getting close to her 29th (NOT) birthday, I took it as a hint and did some investigation.  Although the one she showed me was nice, the $300 price tag was not.  So off to the shop I go!
This is an  example of what she had

Earlier this year we had to have a tree cut down at my mothers, and it turned out to be a treasure!  The tree was a very old and dying box elder, and through a fortunate set of circumstances, the local power board cut it down for free.  Well, being the pack rat for wood that I am, I volunteered to haul the wood off for future projects.  As it turned out, I was a little too ambitious because it was a TON of wood.  The real surprise came when it was actually being cut up.  The wood had these MAGNIFICENT sunburst patterns of blood red streaking across the grain.  I had never seen anything like it and started doing some research on it.  It turns out that it is a Flame Box Elder.  Evidently the discoloration is caused by either a fungus or a beetle, and I would lean toward the beetle since they were found all over it.
You can see the patterns where all the branches were cut off

Closer view off the branches.  The picture doesn't even come close to the true beauty of the colorful patterns
As I said before, I was a little too eager with my plans to keep all the wood.  The base of the tree was about 6 feet across and a little over 16 feet tall after all the branches were trimmed off, and there was NO way I was going to be able to move or cut it into manageable pieces.  I investigated the option of having someone with a portable saw mill come out and cut it up for me, but no one had equipment to handle it.  I then had the thought "Why don't I share it?"  I contacted my local Woodcraft store, and soon had Rodney and Scott there to look at it.  They were just as excited as I was with the discovery, and we made a deal to take the largest sections off my hands.  They showed up a few days later with some helpers and we loaded it on a flatbed trailer with a bobcat that just happened to be next door (best $50 ever spent).  The rest was hauled to my shop with the help of my boys.  I have heard that it was a huge success at the store, and they still have some left.

Back to the swing.  I wanted to make the swing 30 inches long, 10 inches wide, and 2 inches thick, so I selected a log and started cutting.  I took my chainsaw and trimmed it to a size that I could run through my planer and soon had it to the correct thickness.  After cutting it to length and width, I moved on to the monogram.  I wanted to try my hand at wood carving for the first time, but that didn't go so well, so I turned to my trusty Dremel.  I designed the monogram on the computer and printed it out full size, then traced the pattern on the wood using carbon paper.  Using the Dremel, with this bit, I did all the cutting approximately 1/8" deep.  I made sure the bottoms of the engraving were pretty flat, and then used a small squeeze bottle to apply the pink paint into the recesses.  After the paint dried I ran it through my drum sander.  You could do it with a regular sander, I just HATE sanding, and anything that makes my life easier I'm all for it.  Since the monogram was recessed, running it through the sander did not damage the paint I applied and also sharpened up the edges.  Once it was sanded, I drilled the holes for the U bolts I picked up at Lowes, and finished it with several coats of polyurethane, wet sanding with 800 grit paper between coats.  Here is the end result.

This was my first attempt at engraving and I learned many valuable things.  1) It really wasn't that difficult, 2) Lay off the caffeine! You need a steady hand, and 3) I want to incorporate this in other projects ie. the house number plaque for my mailbox.  Jen was too funny.  We had to temporarily hang it up to get photos with the old rope because she insists "We can"t hang it permanently until we find some "pretty" rope!", and "Nobody can sit on it! "  Gotta love her.


  1. What is your price? I'm interested in purchasing several of your items but I can't find a price or where to order them.

  2. Wow! That is beautiful! I have always wanted to learn how to work with wood, I am a crafter of all sorts. You are very talented! :)

  3. Wonderful piece. You've got skills! Thanks for visiting my blog. I'm now following both of yours. Looking forward to checking out your projects. :)

  4. BEAUTIFUL!! And what a great gift - I'd take a handmade gift over storebought any day of the week. :)

    My dad had a wood shop when I was a kid and I loved the way it smelled.