Jiajia makes a 10-sided willow planter pt. 1

In which I revisit middle school geometry, design and draw a full-scale model, and learn that milling rough lumber takes FIVE different machines. 

For my first project, Carey wanted to test run the new 10-sided willow planter course. When she told me I immediately thought: "10 sides is too many sides." How does one cut 10 pieces of wood so precisely that they fit together to form a perfect geometric plant home? I will tell you how, because spoiler alert - I did it and you can too! 

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The studio

Where all my woodworking adventures take place. It is bright. It is airy. Sometimes there are dogs. There is always the scent of sawdust in the air. I'm proud to say that by the end of the project, I reached an acceptable level of competency on nearly all machines in the photo above (and some that aren't!). 

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Step 1: I am reacquainted with the compass and introduced to the cast iron protractor head (essentially a protractor fitted with a ruler that lets you draw straight lines at precise angles). We start drawing the full-scale model on a piece of particle board after deciding on the circumference of our planter.

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Step 2: We do math (!) to figure out the angles for the 10 sides of the planter as well as the width of the pieces. Not pictured - my attempting to do math face while Carey actually does all the math.                                                                                                                                             

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Step 3: We turn this...

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Into this.

This alchemy is called milling, the process of creating smooth wooden planks from raw lumber, and it requires no fewer than 5 different machines. 

First the band saw and radial arm saw are used to do a rough rip (cut along the grain) and cross cut (across the grain) of the board.

First the band saw and radial arm saw are used to do a rough rip (cut along the grain) and cross cut (across the grain) of the board.

Then the jointer is used to flatten one face of the board and give one side a 90 degree angle to that face.

Then the jointer is used to flatten one face of the board and give one side a 90 degree angle to that face.

A planer is used to flatten the other side.

A planer is used to flatten the other side.

Finally, a thickness sander is used to get the board to the right thickness and to make it extra smoooooth. 

Finally, a thickness sander is used to get the board to the right thickness and to make it extra smoooooth. 

All that milling calls for a pup break. (Meet Loup and Dolly! Photo courtesy of Simon Ford.)

All that milling calls for a pup break. (Meet Loup and Dolly! Photo courtesy of Simon Ford.)

Stay tuned for pt. 2, where we cut the planks into actual planter pieces and start putting things together! The last part is very satisfying. You really won't want to miss it.

Sign up for the willow planter course here.