Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Another Fabulous ThunderBird Project

Those Air Force boys sure make life interesting! This week, someone brought another fighter jet control stick to my shop, and asked if I could make a display pedestal for it.

And... could I make it in just three days.

So after listening to what he wanted, I put together this small mock-up of what I had in mind, while he waited. It was such a rush order, I didn't have a lot of time to come up with a couple of sketches, like I normally do. So I grabbed some scrap MDF and cut the small cube that he had described.

The sample box was just a little too small for all the artwork that he wanted to include on this cube, so when I made the actual solid-wood piece, I made it just a bit taller. It's a good thing!

He came back later that day, and picked up the cube so he could have it engraved. The original plan was for me to stain this pedestal, so I started staining the top and bottom pieces, while I awaited the return of the piece he took.

When he came back with it, it had the artwork, which were cloth patches and some metal coins and plates, already glued down to the cube. Check out the very cool artwork of the plane, laser engraved onto the wood. You probably can't see it, but it letters about 1/16 of an inch tall, it says - United States Air Force.

Only problem - if I applied the stain as planned, the engraved artwork would have disappeared.

Uh... what's Plan B?

All four sides of the cube were covered with artwork.

The only alternative with just 24 hours to go was to apply a couple of coats of my new "go to" finish - a Minwax Wipe On Poly. It's easy to control, dries quickly, and makes the wood look great.

I'm not a big fan of two-toned projects, but I didn't have much choice, since the other pieces were already stained. Once I attached the base, I actually really liked the effect it gave this piece.

Mounting the flight stick was another one of those "design-on-the-fly" moments, as he wanted the piece secured with a nut from the bottom, in case it ever needed to be removed. (WTF?) Finding a nut to fit this controller proved to be the most challenging part of this whole piece, but - mission accomplished.

Here is the flight stick, attached to the top piece. They chromed it. Sweet.

And finally, the finished piece, completed with just hours to spare.

Like I said, those Air Force boys sure make life interesting!

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