Sunday, December 04, 2011

The most romantic holiday gift ever

This might be the most romantic holiday gift ever!

About ten months ago, a very nice gentleman stopped by my shop with some ideas about things he wanted me to build. His only request - the pieces had to be done by the time the holidays rolled around. The first piece was a small carving, and even though I don't consider myself that skilled with a carving chisel, I have to say - that piece was amazing!

Well here it is, the holidays are creeping up, and a few weeks ago, I started on the second one of his pieces - a Wheel of Fortune game.

Only there is a little twist. Instead of dollar amounts in each segment, he will be putting the names of various destinations on the segments. When his wife spins the wheel, she will be spinning for a trip to someplace like Paris, or Hawaii, or London, or ... well, you get the idea.

Luckily, I've had months to work out all the details in my head. That is usually how I build something - by building it in my mind first.

I started with the individual wheel segments; I figured that everything else could be scaled around those dimensions. Since we'd agreed on twelve different segments, a little geometry was in order.

I needed to cut twelve identical pie shaped pieces, so I made a simple tapering jig for cutting each piece.

My angle was off just a bit, so I "corrected" it by adding a small shim to the jig, to get the angle perfect.

And I cut a few scrap pieces to see if my angles were correct. They were.

Here is the selection of wood I used - walnut, ash, mahogany and maple. I planed them all to a uniform thickness,

and then used the jig to cut them into segments.

The ends had to be tweaked slightly, so I headed to the chop saw for that.

Once I reassembled this - all I could hear was...




If you live in Vegas, you know that chant well. It blasts inside nearly every casino.

The base and upright support for the wheel were next. With the help of a large lazy susan mechanism, building it went well. I have to say - I enjoy building by the seat of my pants. No plans, no constraints, just a clear vision of what I need for the piece.

The only problem with working this way is that there is a sense of mania in the woodshop. I'm more concerned with solving design problems than cleaning up after myself, so the place tends to get a bit messy.

When it gets to the point where I can't find anything on my bench, I straighten it up and then the mess starts all over again.

These wheel segments still have to be painted. One side will be plain, and the other will have the destination on it. So they need to be reversible. I love the small walnut hub that I made for the center of the wheel. It holds the tips of all the segments in place, and looks very cool when the wheel is spinning.

I'm not sure what it's called, but the little pointer that separates the segments had me stumped. That's when two heads are better than one - my buddy Tom wandered into my shop, watched me for a few minutes, and had the perfect solution. I'd probably spent two hours thinking about it as I was working, and he solved the dilemma in just two minutes.

Isn't it odd how our minds work like that?

Over the years, I've made some really odd/interesting pieces - like a display case for a vintage bedpan, which was a retirement gift for a nurse. Or the couch made from old bleacher seats from Cleveland Stadium. Or the fighter jet flight ejection handle trophy. Or the... well, there have been many cool ones.

But this one might be one of my more memorable pieces.


Vegas Lupe said...

That is a cool project, Jamie! Loved to see the angle jig for the pie pieces. Clever... Somebody is going to be very happy this Xmas. Great job!

John said...

That's a really cool project. Like you I tend to build the thing in my head first and then watch my hands put it together (hopefully). Really nice, by the way -- I was on three shows of Wheel of Fortune in the late '80's so your project triggered some memories of Vanna & Pat!

Julie @ followyourheartwoodworking said...

You did a fabulous job on that wheel. (And I wish I had your clients!) So does the wife have a chance at 12 different places? I'm assuming one won't be Vegas! It's so strange you just did that because I was thinking of making a clock face exactly as you did, with 30 deg. segments, and was thinking of a way of cutting them... and there you are doing the same thing (mine would be out of rough pine or barnboard and be painted).