Thats not a typo, this map of Nova Scotia is going to be 12 feet long and guess what, now I want one. We got an email late last fall regarding a wood map. As the emails progressed, it turns out they wanted a really large one to fill the wall of their dental office. Jim drafted a sample of what an eight foot map would look like on the picture they sent of the wall space, with us thinking WOW, that’s big. A few more emails and the finished map size they settled on was 12 feet long.
Fair warning, this is a long post for a big project.
First thing we did was size the map on the computer to 12 feet and print out two copies. One to use in the workshop and one to use when we go to install the map. We plan on using french cleats for the installation which we have used previously on a large map, so the placement of those were added before we made copies.
The map is going to be cut from weathered boards (nice) and so for added stability, given the length, we decided to use 1/8 inch luan plywood in behind the boards. This will just serve to hold things together, being so thin we will still need to add a thicker backboard later. In the workshop, we laid out the 1/8 inch plywood with the paper map on top, and used carbon tracing paper to transfer the map image onto the plywood.
Jim cut the weathered boards to 5/16 inch thick on the tablesaw…
Then the back of each board needed to be sanded for better adhesion to the plywood. So there was a little bit of this…
And a little too much of that (if you ask me)…
Next up…selecting boards. We used the longer boards to run through the middle of the project, saving shorter boards for along the coast.
Here are all the boards loosely in place covering the traced map.
Given the nature of weathered wood, there were some small gaps between boards where you could see the lighter plywood. We moved half of the map, covered it and then sprayed the plywood black. Once the pieces were back in place we did the same to the other half. Problem solved.
We lifted the boards one at a time, starting with the coast, and glued each board in place.
I may or may not have signed our names in the glue…
We used clamps along the coast to keep things in place.
We also decided to use the pneumatic stapler to secure each board, you can never be too careful. Had to be done from the back.
Time to start cutting. Our normal size maps are cut on the scroll saw but that would be impossible for something this size. So Jim used the jigsaw for the cutting. With our paper template on top of the weathered boards, he got to work.
Not sure how many hours it took for Jim to cut out the map. Just the mainland portion alone took 6 jigsaw blades. 2 more blades for Cape Breton Island.
With the nature of the wood, and using a jigsaw, we knew there would be sanding involved but jeez.
I think it took longer to sand than to cut, but it makes all the difference.
At least with sanding there were two of us working at it.
Also, we had to cut the map down to a smaller size because we have to transport this about three hours from here for install. The most logical point to make the cut was between Cape Breton and the mainland. Sorry C.B. Soon we will be one again.
Here is the cut and sanded mainland minus Cape Breton.
Cape Breton cut and sanded…
We carried those two pieces into the house and laid them flat on the floor. For reference, Jim was standing on the coffee table trunk and we placed a regular three foot map below it for size reference. This thing is huge.
Not finished just yet. The name of the dental clinic and their logo needed to be cut out and than means using our new scroll saw for the first time. You know, the one resting on the new mobile stand I built for Jim.
The tooth logo was cut from 3/4 inch thick material and painted gold…
While the lettering was cut from 1/4 inch thick material…
And painted white, three coats with sanding between coats.
With the paint drying we set our sights on the backer board to support the whole project. Jim used the same 12 foot map of NS to draw a watered down version of the map keeping a couple of inches inland from the coast.
This got traced onto 5/8 inch thick plywood, cut out with the jigsaw by Jim and sanded by moi. We purchased a bucket of glue for this project and Jim poured glue onto the backer board then we both spread it over the entire thing.
We followed the same procedure for both the mainland and Cape Breton and clamped them within an inch of their life.
While the glue dried we took the painted letters, placed and glued them to a piece of 1/8 inch thick plywood painted grey. We went back and forth on this decision. We figured given the unevenness of weathered boards, if a letter landed on two different boards it would be a whole other nightmare.
Time to assemble. This was another decision we had to put some thought into. We knew we would do a trial run of the assembly, but had considered taking it back apart and doing the final assembly on site. But…once assembled we made the executive decision to leave it and take the chance to transport it that way. We will use a level to make sure the sign is straight on site.
With everything complete we bubble wrapped and entombed this thing in cardboard ready for transport. Time to hit the road.
Up early on a Saturday morning, we drove the three hours meeting up with Natalie at the dental centre. What we didn’t realize was that the bank of cabinets against the wall were five feet tall and the map was going above that. It was fine, just a surprise.
We brought along a paper template of the map on which Jim had drawn a line from side to side and top to bottom telling us the center point of the map. We also used those lines and a level to level the name sign with the letters on it. Most important thing.
Another thing we weren’t sure of until we arrived was the type of construction of the wall, wood or metal studs. Turns out they were metal.
We did a lot of measuring to find where the studs landed and marked it with green tape.
Once we took the paper map down this is what we were left with. Tape marking the studs and a few registration marks also in green tape for where to place the map.
First up the mainland. Our muscles got a workout if nothing else.
Ready to see the result…
This was a really fun project given the size. Actually that is what was most fun about it.