YOU GUYS. I was traveling for work this past week and came home to an almost finished stacked wood Minnesota piece of wall art for a wall in our kitchen that we are almost done remodeling. Jack had the idea in his mind of what exactly he wanted to put on the wall and this was it! Design points for him. Thank goodness he took pictures of the process so I could show you how to make one yourself 😉
Jack started off by measuring how big he wanted it to be on the wall. We have a pretty big blank wall on one side of our kitchen above a little cut-out to the sunken living room below so the size of ours is 4ft x 5ft tall.
Then, he found a picture of the outline of Minnesota online (you could use whatever state you live in, your home state, etc.) and put it into Microsoft Paint. To get it to scale, go to File ->Print ->Page Setup -> and then in Scaling, “Fit To” however many pages you want it to be (calculating it out considering the size of an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper and 0.5 inch margins so really 7.5 x 10)
He bought 6 different types of wood so that it would all be different colors as they each accept the wood stain differently. He used:
- Hickory – (1) 1″x8″x8′
- Maple – (1) 1″x4″x3′ scrap we just had laying around
- Yellow Birch – (1) 1″x10″x16′
- Red Oak – (1) 1″x10″x16′
- Birch Plywood – (1) 3/8″ plywood 2’x8′
- Pine – (1) 1″x4″x4′ scrap we just had laying around
- Ash – (1) 1″x10″x10′
To get the different widths, he ripped the wood using a table saw. He did 5 different widths that you can see in the picture below. To add a little extra to some widths to make more of a contrast, he added a piece of 1/4″ plywood scraps we already had. Then he cut random sizes with some of each type of wood at each width to make the varied and random lengths and widths all over the state.
Jack did a rough layout over the state outline until he liked the look of it. Three things he made sure of were:
- Staggered joints
- Staggered thickness of pieces of wood
- Staggered types of wood so the coloring would be varied
After he had it looking “random,” he cut the outline. He said he didn’t make perfect cuts at this point. He just pulled out one piece at a time and did a freehand outline on the wood with a pencil. The most important thing here was to make sure the pencil line on one piece lined up with the pencil line on the next piece so that they would fit together. Jack started making the cuts with a scroll saw that his grandpa had given him but it broke early on in the process (oops!) so he switched to a jigsaw. He said at this point, he wished we lived in Colorado or Wyoming but was grateful we don’t live in Alaska. Those cuts would be brutal!
Next up was the stain! We used Minwax Dark Walnut wood finish. We used a rag to apply in generously, waited about 5 minutes and then wiped off the excess. We did the southern half of the state to start just to make sure we liked the color results and contrasts between the different types of wood.
We needed a backing to attach all the individual pieces of wood to so we used 1/4″ hard board. You could use 1/4′” MDF instead but don’t use plywood because it will most likely warp too much. Hard board or MDF is way more stable and will stay flat. Jack cut the outline of the state on the hard board. He then traced the outline with a sharpie and used the jigsaw to cut it exactly how he wanted it, which was about 2 inches inside of the line so you can’t see the backing once the wood is on top. You want just enough surface to glue the wood pieces to and the outside wood pieces should overhang the backing by roughly 2 inches.
Then we laid out the bottom half making sure all of the wood pieces fit together correctly. We started gluing down the pieces in the middle of the state and worked down from there. Once all of the bottom pieces were on, we started back at the middle and worked our way to the top.
The finishing touch was 2 coats of polyurethane satin so it was protected but not shiny.
To hang it on the wall, we put up two pieces of tape to mark the studs close to the center of the wall and then screwed the Minnesota into the studs using 2 screws in concealed parts so you can’t see them.
And there you go! This was a nice surprise to come home to 🙂