I went back to England a couple of weeks ago for my cousin’s wedding. It was so beautiful, very English (including the weather, unfortunately). The love and care that had gone into planning everything from the service to the table decorations to the band that played us into the evening was so evident throughout. I don’t think we stopped smiling all night. It also involved the hasty creation, the week before, of a bow tie to match my Saltspring (which I braved the weather in) and the less hasty creation of a carved wooden trivet as a wedding gift.
I love personal wedding gifts, my parents have things around the house that they were given for their wedding, and I love the touch of fondness that enters the conversation when I hear “my friend (enter name here) gave us that for our wedding.” So I wanted to make something that would be a bit more personal than something off a wedding list (and I do have a tendency not to buy anything if I can possibly make it myself)
My original idea came from a trivet that my mother gave me for Christmas last year, which came from a Fairtrade catalogue, but which I find so pretty that actually it adorns the wall underneath my clock.
At first I combed Pinterest for carved trivet designs, but eventually decided that I’d cut the first-name initials of the couple onto it, carving out the wood in between like the tree above.
My original thought was to buy a chopping board (because then I could be sure that it hadn’t been treated with anything that wouldn’t be safe around food) that was already round, and just draw the design onto that, but 8-inch round boards don’t seem to be in this season, so I plumped for a larger board made of some darkish, probably African wood with a lovely reflection. It was probably better this way, because I had to use a compass to draw the original circle, and so marking out the inner circle and other centre-lines was more accurate.
I made a full-sized paper template, and marked around it onto the wood. (The giant “&” on the template didn’t make it onto the finished piece – I originally experimented with different “and”s, “AND”s and “&”s on the template, but the wood turned out to be too erratically-grained, and not dense enough for any of them to have really worked.)
After I’d cut out the main circle and marked the design on, I drilled out the spaces between the letters with drill-bits that were as big as I could manage to fit (the less cutting-back work, the better.)
There was one small panic-moment when I went a bit too far with the drilling (after this picture) and the tip of the middle of the E split off. I had to glue it back and then work very carefully, because the short grain going across it meant that it was liable to split off again.
Then I cut away the rough wood between the drill-holes, and made the outlines of the letters smooth. It sounds so quick and simple, but actually that was probably the most time-consuming part of the job.
When the main outlines were finished, I cut round the parts of outline that overlap the outer circle, and started to cut the top of the letters down to below the level of the original surface.
And carved the date of the wedding onto the outer circle.
I had already realised that the wood was much lighter than it appeared on the surface. I don’t know if the original board was waxed, or had some darkening oil applied to it, but even after a few coats of linseed oil (my preferred wood finish) it still wasn’t as dark as the original coating. I’d hoped that it would all end up the same colour, and so mask any small nicks I made with an errant knife or chisel in the making process. It didn’t. Luckily I was fairly careful, and so there weren’t too many glaringly obvious chips in the outer surface.
Here it is: finished (pretty much), and I’m pretty happy with the result.
Oh yes, one thing more to add: feet. Now I can begin to justify the two large jars of wine corks that are taking up room in my tiny little flat!
(You can also just about see where I reinforced the middle “strut” of the E, and the lower curl of the J with bits of offcuts glued with the grain running at 90 degrees to the original. Hey, it’s funny to write about woodwork on here. Despite the fact that it’s what I do all day, every day, this blog has remained a pretty woodwork-free area so far!)
Here’s to the happy couple!