• Son Luu

Make Five of Something

This week, we were introduced to guides, jigs and using them in making multiples of same things. So, the assignment for the week, is to make 5 of something. We also talked about the concept of "first pancakes" to refer to first times of making things. Your "first pancakes" are never meant to be perfect. Instead, they are meant to teach us the learning process, improvement over time, in making things better and better every time. "First pancakes", as a result, are more far important than a perfect pancake because we would likely learn some lessons while creating them - experiences with correct uses of tools and materials we will never forget and mistakes we will not repeat in the future.


I wanted to make something that is simple and allows me to practice using more heavy-duty cutting machines such as different types of saw. We learned to use a band saw, a miter gauge, a fence or stop block for cutting materials, a sander for making surfaces smooth. This would be a great opportunity to utilize some of those machines and tools. I decided that I am going to make the letter S - which is the initial of my first name.

There were a few ideas I thought about, such as: a boat, letter W, the shape of my country Vietnam, but I finally I decided to go with the letter S. The letter is my initial. But also, when I came to speak to my professor, Ben, he said the shape of it also looks like a number 5, which is the five things I am making. What a coincidence!


The primary material I use for this project is wood. I just need to make sure I have plenty for my "first pancakes."

The process

1. Step 1: Mark overall size and shape of my S on the wood piece

I tried to use different kinds of technical rulers to help with precision

Then, I labeled different numbers to the grid cells to help cut away or keep the right pieces.

Step 2: Cut out the pieces that make up the S shape - First, the Z

I need to cut a Z shape, and two short rectangles for each S.

I used band saw so that I can cut the small pieces of wood more precisely. However, I forgot to see if I could use any guides or any miter gauges to help with the cutting process. It was not an easy job!

As a result, none of my pieces worked. They were crooked. This is my batch of first pancakes

I tried to use the the guides, miter gauges etc but my pieces were too small, so those didn't help. They would have been more useful if my S were bigger. However, I didn't want to increase the size of my S. So I took the pieces that were not cut correctly and sanded them. They looked a lot better and closer to the initial intended measurement.

I used the piece of wood that was sanded to the correct size measurement and started marking around its shape for the remaining pieces. But, this time, as you can se in this picture, I marked the lines just about 1-2mm bigger than they actually supposed to. That way, even if the cutting wasn't straight or perfect, I have some extra room on the wood pieces to sand them to a closer size and shape that I wanted.

And, they did come out a lot better.

Step 3: Make the short ends of the S

I repeated the steps for making my Z pieces to make these short ends of my S.

Step 4: Connect the components with wood glue

I let them dry overnight.


I learned so lessons this time:

1. "First pancakes" are likely "burned." But, I learned what to do and what not to do for when I make my next pancake.

2. As a follow-up to #1, I should think about extra material

3. Nothing is perfectly straight and perfect in size and shape no matter how much you try to be precise

4. When using any type of saw, notice and think about what helping tools I can use to make cutting easier, safer, and more accurate (miter gauges, stop blocks, fence etc.)

5. Making things in smaller size may not be very easy to cut, and I have to be extra careful when cutting the small pieces with motorized saws without hurting myself.

6. One way to get closer to the intended size measurements when making small things is to cut the pieces with some extra room around the edge, then use a sander to help shape the pieces into the wanted shape without shrinking the actual intended sizes.