Mike’s Strato-Winer

Viewer Project - By Mike Valentinas from Glenview, IL
Added on January 8, 2015

I call this project, “Strato-Winer” because the finished shape reminds me of a Fender Stratocaster. I was enlisted by my wife to build a project for our elementary school’s annual silent auction fundraiser. Inspiration came from three places 1) a huge chunk of elm wood I had sitting in my shop; 2) a plan for a wine rack I saw in Wood Magazine; and 3) a picture of a curvy wine rack I saw online. I ended up not using the elm wood because it was too gnarly and checked to shape with all the curves. The Wood Magazine article gave me the idea to build a wine rack, but their plan is nothing at all like what I built.

I ended up building the Strato-Winer out of Catalpa wood. It is a widely grown yard tree in the Midwest. It is very light and soft (similar to Basswood). I chose it because of all domestic species, it is one of the most dimensionally stable, so it lends itself well to a project like this.

After getting some feedback on the Wood Talk Forum, I decided the best way to shape the project was to glue together two 8/4 laminations. I rough shaped each lamination with a hand held jigsaw, glued them together with every clamp I own, and then smoothed all the rough edges and “sculpted” the final shape with a spindle sander. This is a relatively limited tool project. Other than using my table saw, jointer and planer for dimensioning and milling, the only tools used were a hand held jigsaw, spindle sander, random orbital sander, and a router to round over the edges.

I sanded to 220 by machine, then hand sanded to 400 before applying a coat of 50/50 tung oil and BLO. I like the color of that mix and the BLO helps it dry faster. Two coats of Arm-R-Seal and it was ready for auction.

The pictures document the progress. I used cardboard (a pizza box) to come up with a rough shape. I transferred to MDF and the refined the shape a little bit. My first shape had two problems. First off, it was not organic enough for me. I realized that the left and right halves needed to be different enough so that people would not think I was going for symmetry and messed up. Secondly, I wanted to make sure it was 12.5 inches wide so that I could fit the rough blanks through my thickness planer.

Overall I am happy with the finished product. It was my first project with so many curves. Sanding all that end grain was a challenge. If I had more time, I would have sanded it even more to give it a truly “silky” feel.