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Writing With Power Tools

March 9, 2020

I’m grateful for short names. I mean the names of my sons-in-law. It’s not something you typically think about. And, of course, I have no say in it anyway, regardless of the fact that my sons-in-law approached me about marry my daughters.

No, my reason for short names is more selfish. For Christmas I wrote on boards with power tools.

I didn’t start with the power tools. First I found and printed out templates.

Then, I used the templates to write on the boards. And then the power tools figure into it. Mostly it’s a scroll saw.

As even short time readers know I spent a lot of time leading up to Christmas creating homemade woodworking gifts. I made colored blocks for my grandkids. I also made them large letters that spell their name.

For four of my children I made footlockers.

For my son-in-law I made a shelf with a hidden compartment.

For my lovely wife I made even more shelves (but without the hidden compartment.) I even made a baseball display rack for myself.

In addition, I wanted to make a gift for each of my married children. I wanted it to be unique, but also be something I could do several of without too much trouble.

And let’s face it, when someone says, “Homemade gift” if you are like me, you remember getting plenty of “homemade gifts” that your kids made in school. And as dearly as we loved those gifts made with more skill than love, they are typically not as well received as a maybe a nice gift card.

So, I opted for names. I’d already done a bunch for my grandkids. In fact, I did 37 letters out of plywood for grandkid names. I shared the idea with my lovely wife.

You aren’t going to create these out of plywood are you?

I was going to. Why?

Well, I’m sure the grandkids will enjoy theirs, but they were a little. . .


Rough. Maybe you could make these out of real wood.

I suppose.

And, can you make the edges a little less. . .



I recently received a bunch of 1×12″ clear straight boards. They were perfect for my project.

For the grandkids, I cut their letters out with a bandsaw and later a jigsaw. And the result was the edges were kind of. . .okay, yeah they were jagged.

To get clean edges I needed a new tool.

Any project, no matter how small, is an excellent excuse to buy more tools.

The tool to make clean curvey cuts on a board is called a scroll saw. I used to own one years ago. And I just never found an excuse to get a new one.

That was until this project. I don’t need a professional grade scroll saw. I found one on sale at Harber Freight for $29, the box was somewhatt crushed. Even the cheap Harbor Freight saws are typically $99.

When I got it home, I realized why it was only $25. It was broken. When the box got crushed, it broke part of the table. I posted a question to my friends on facebook, many of whom are mechanics.

You buy a $25 scroll saw at Home Depot and find out it’s broken. What do you do?

1. Wait to return it until Harbor Freight Opens and return it
2. Throw it away and buy a new one (After all, it’s only $25)
3. Get out the JB Weld and fix it

It was interesting to see the responses from my facebook friends. Most of them who weren’t the home improvement types chose option 1. You buy something. It’s broken. You return it. No question.

And yet, it was a Sunday afternoon and I really wanted to get started on my project. My friends who were used to fixing cars and bulding things instead said,

JB Weld, of course

After the JB Weld set up, the table was good as new.

Unlike the letters I cut out for my grandkids, the names for my kids were all connected. I designed them to hand on the wall, or to sit on a shelf.

And that was when I realized I care about how long my sons-in-law last names are. Drawing out and then cutting out the name was not a short process. I have three sons-in-law. Their names are

De La Rosa

It’s a good thing I love that last kid.

I also did another one for my lovely wife. She’s fond of dolphins.

And all the edges were nice and sharp.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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