Sunday, March 2nd, 2008
10:58 pm - Mini-Project  
So, sometime in the early nineties, when I was getting down to DC on business quite a bit, I picked up a couple of slabs cut from geodes at one of the Smithsonian gift shops. I brought them home, but then I ran into a slight problem. I had no good way to display them. They're ellipticalish slices of rock, 3/16" thick or so, and they need some sort of help to stand upright so one can view the beauty of the rock from across the room. I suppose a couple of those contraptions used to display plates might work, although the slabs are much smaller than the average comemorative plate, but I didn't have any. So I put the two slabs flat on top of my stereo etagere to give myself a little time to consider the matter.

A couple of years later, I needed to figure out a way to make some stand-up 8½ x 11" signs for our trade show booth at work. I used foam board to create the signs themselves, but I needed a way to make them stand upright. The usual way of doing it would've been to glue one of those folding cardboard stands onto the back of each sign, but I thought they were a bit too flimsy and too easy to knock over. I wound up taking some 1 x 3 x 8" oak stock and cutting a slot along its length just wide enough to hold the foam board snuggly. I angled the slot back slightly both to improve the viewing angle, and also to put the center of gravity back closer to the center of the stand, which made it nice and stable. They worked great for many years.

I figured that one day I could do something similar for my geodes. The problem was that the slabs were sitting flat on top of a set of shelves, so I rarely ever even saw them, much less thought about making stands for them. Then they got put in a box up in the attic when I moved in 2000, and I didn't see them again until last fall. I put them on the table in my office, where every now and then I'd see them and think that I really ought to make stands for them. Today I finally something about it.

Simple Stands I had an old maple board that I'd used as a prototype for another piece of display hardware for work, and it had just enough clear wood left for me to make the two stands. They wound up being about 3½" long and 1¾" wide. The slots and the face of each are 10° off the vertical. The two slabs have slightly different thicknesses, so I cut the slots using multiple passes though the blade, just moving the rip fence over a skosh before each pass, then testing to see if the fit was snug. The main problem with the whole process is that working with small pieces of wood that close to a table saw blade is tricky business. There are just too many opportunities for collateral damage if you're not careful. I also discovered that one is better off hand sanding small pieces like this than trying to use even a small electric sander.

After sanding everything smooth, I applied a couple of coats of spray satin finish, then polished them with steel wool. They look good, and only took an hour or so to make. Eighteen perfectly good years or so of procrastination gone in a comparative blink. Now I can look up at the pieces of geode on the shelf over my desk and contemplate how much they look like miniature Star Trek time travel devices.


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arliss: blue wire?arliss on March 5th, 2008 - 08:02 am
They do look like portals, don't they?

The stands are awesome, simple and just there to prop up and show off the geodes.

Now you need a little light behind them...
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