How to: Make a DIY Faceted Wooden Gem Paperweight...or Decorative Object...or Whatever This Is

By: Chrisjob Jan 26, 2013

created at: 01/22/2013

I do as much as I can to stay paperless in my office. With online bill pay, shared online documents, lots of apps and software, and a general goal of wasting less, I can get pretty close, save for my trusty notebook and craft supplies. I've even moved my multi-tiered tray off my desk to create more working room.

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But, no matter how I try, there's always a small pile of 8 1/2x11"s that I just can't seem to shake. And without an inbox/outbox setup, they just won't stay still. So, I decided I needed a paperweight. You know, to weigh down actual papers.   Of course, I didn't want to buy something when I've all kinds of heavy things just lying around, and I wanted it to be something attractive to inspire me as I work. So, I came up with a modern faceted wood design that's all the rage in 2013, and cost me less than a $1.00 to make.

No need for a paperweight? No worries, these make great little decorative objects to adorn your shelves, or dresser (I made three). Drill a hole, and you've got a rustic modern candle stick. Drill smaller holes, and it's a way to organize your pens and pencils. Tie a string around it, juggle it, paint it gold...whatever you like. It's totally one of those "I don't know what this is, but I like it" pieces.

 

created at: 01/22/2013

To make this project, I chose a fir 4x4 I had in my basement. These are very inexpensive at the home center, and I like the thick, contrast-y grain pattern that shows up differently on each of the facets. Plus, it's a soft wood that makes it easier to remove the material, making quicker work of this sort of project.

 

created at: 01/22/2013

A 4x4 is actually 3 1/2 x 3 1/2", so I cut a 8" length to experiment on. In later versions, I learned that 5" is plenty to keep my hands safe and still manipulate the wood as necessary.

 

created at: 01/22/2013

To remove the waste material to create the facets, I tried nearly every saw I have: the band saw, the table saw, the compound miter saw, even a hand tool, but I just couldn't figure out a way to get all those complex random angles while keeping my hands away from the spinning saw blade. So, on an off-chance, I thought, "what if i didn't cut them away, but sanded them?" And, it totally worked. This technique allows you to use the sandpaper as a more of a sculpting tool than a sizing tool, which is exactly what this kind of project requires.

 

created at: 01/22/2013

The ideal tool for this is a stationary combination belt and disk sander, which stays put while you move the workpiece towards it. They're not super expensive (around $100-150), and mine has paid for itself hundreds of times, since I do more small crafting projects than big furniture builds. If you work with wood, they're well worth the investment.  But, this project could be accomplished with a belt or random-orbit sander clamped to a bench, or with some 100-grit sandpaper and block. It'll take a bit longer, but the fir is so soft, you could make one in the time it takes to watch a movie.

created at: 01/22/2013

As far as technique goes, there really isn't one. Each plane and facet should be random, so just continually alternate sides and spin the piece on all axes and remove a little at a time. I found I liked five- or six-sided facets rather than triangular or square. More of a soccer ball than a diamond, if you will.

 

created at: 01/22/2013

When you've created a shape you like, you can clean up the faces with some 220-grit sandpaper. Place the paper on a flat surface and move the wood rather than the other-way-around. This will prevent rounding over the edges, keeping everything nice and geometric. 

 

created at: 01/22/2013

I like the natural matte wood tones, so I choose not to apply any finish. But, you can stain yours, do a rubbed oil finish, paint a few random facets, paint the whole thing, clear coat it. Do what you wish. These are so inexpensive to make, you can have fun experiment.

 

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I am working on a picture frame of joined, solid, thick Maple hardwood pieces that was coming out way too rustic(actually I joked that it looked like a stone frame out of the Flintstones). This isn't where I wanted to go with it as our style is modern, so I was thinking how to change it and I thought of the long facets of a diamond(more like the base, not the top). Typed it into a search and saw your article, which is motivating and helpful as I am not used to letting a woodworking project naturally evolve. Used to doing everything off plans with only minor adjustments. Going to do a matte, rubbed oil stain. Thanks.

I just love the shape! It's geometrically, but at th same time clearly in no order!
Might consider using these body language as a lamp or a pump!

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