I recently had the opportunity to play a part in a very special occasion, the celebration of fifty years of marriage. The family had decided to honor the occasion with a lovely painting of the family tree by one of the couple’s talented grandchildren. She creatively features each family member as a bird in the tree. A son had made the frame — beautifully and solidly built from figured quartersawn cherry, 25″ x 21″. I was asked to design and carve lettering into the frame and also to incorporate elements related to the tree theme.
After I had played around sketching some ideas, we agreed on a design that focuses on the lettering, but is complemented by a message told by delicate flowing lines of roots and branches — and a couple love birds. Below is a slideshow of photos. These are pre-oil, which is why the cherry appears so light.
I thought I’d also share a really simple project idea that some might find useful. Projects like this frame call for some full-size drawing on paper, which allows for lots of risk-free sketching and erasing. An angled drawing board at an appropriate height would be nice, but I don’t have any space at all for one, and it would only be used occasionally anyway.
So I came up with an idea for a drawing board that sets up on my workbench top and can be broken down into a flat panel for easy storage. I just slide it between a cabinet and the wall when not in use. It can be built with nothing more than a hand saw and a screwdriver, and with a total of $20 of materials. It only takes about an hour to build, which is a nice change of pace.
When I need it, it sets up in less than a minute. I can stand and draw comfortably, or I can sit at my shop stool and extend the drawing board out over the edge of the benchtop.
At most lumberyards and home centers they have sheets of plywood pre-cut into smaller sizes. I bought a two foot by four foot piece of 1/2 inch birch plywood for $15. And a pine 1×4 (actual dimensions 3/4″ x 3 1/2″) eight feet long was under $5. Finishing washers keep the 1 1/4″ screws from poking through the face of the drawing board.
In the photo below, the legs are fitted for storage, held in place by a couple small opposing wedges. At only an inch and a quarter thick, easy to store.
The legs just friction-fit into place…
…and it’s ready for action. The edges of the plywood are straight and square to each other, making it convenient for use with a T-square. The pine boards also act as battens to help keep the top flat.
A couple notches in the back make it easy to secure the assembly to the benchtop with holdfasts if you wish, or hold it cantilevered out over the front of the bench.
Here are a couple sketches that may help if you want to build one.