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  • Fred

Another take on the helmet display stand.

I delivered a helmet stand to an old ROTC friend a couple of weeks ago. Since then, I've received two additional requests for helmet stands...both from other UVa ROTC pals!

I'm working on version 2.0 of the helmet stand. I still stand by the high quality of the first one delivered, but availability of materials can cause some slight adjustments to the plan.

The first stand was made with 6/4 poplar. I went back to my hardwood dealer and there was no 6/4 poplar available. There was, however, plenty of 4/4 poplar on the shelves, so I picked up some of that. If you've been following my blog or if you're familiar with fine woodworking, then you know that a properly executed glue joint is actually stronger than the wood itself. Also, when the proper amount of glue is used and the joint is clamped properly, the joint does not detract from the overall aesthetic of the end product.

Therefore, I began to joint, plane, cut and glue. I glued with abandon. I glued like I had the last bottle of wood glue on Earth. There was a LOT of glue applied and there was a LOT of glue squeezed out. This ensured that the joint would be strong and thin.

What you're looking at are the three parts of the helmet stand: the base, the support column, and the helmet support. I still had one or two clamps in the shop that weren't being used, but this took the vast majority of what I had.

Not only was there a shortage of 6/4 poplar, but I also had a few pieces of rather nice walnut lying around. I asked myself, "what makes flying stuff better?" I pondered and pondered and realized that the answer to this question is, "racing stripes!"

So, I carefully measured and cut the large poplar base and inserted some walnut to add a racing stripe to this helmet stand.

This, of course necessitated another glue up. You may notice that there's wax paper under the area being glued. This makes clean up MUCH easier. I also put blue tape on the bars of my expensive clamps to make them easier to clean too.

After this glue set, I cleaned up the excess and headed back to the jointer and planer to even out all of the flat surfaces. Once this was done, I headed to the table saw to make it a nice square block.

Meanwhile, I was working on the helmet support piece. This is the round piece that the helmet actually sits on. On the last helmet display, I just cut this out on the bandsaw freehand (after drawing a circle with a compass). This time around, I decided to try my hand at a circle cutting jig for the table saw. It worked, but was VERY uncomfortable.

The piece of plywood has a runner screwed to the bottom that rides in the miter slot (the slot to the left of the blade - there's another on the right). There's a nail in the plywood that protrudes up into a hole in the wood I'm cutting so that it rotates freely. I begin by cutting off the large corners.

As I continue, I cut off more and more corners until it's nearly a circle.

When it's nearly a circle, I hold it against the blade and slowly and carefully spin it to take off all of the little corners. This block was 6 inches in diameter, so my fingers were uncomfortably close to the spinning blade. I have a SawStop table saw, so I feel slightly reassured that I'm not going to lose an arm, but this is simply too small of a circle to cut on the table saw in this manner.


After all that danger and intrigue, I felt that the circle that I cut was too large, so I drew a smaller one on it and ended up cutting it freehand on the bandsaw. I'm actually pretty good at that, so I'll stick with that method. I also suppose the jig I built may be adaptable to the band saw anyway. Maybe I'll give that a go. Seems safer.

Steps remaining:

- finish shaping the base

- carve the dome shape on the helmet support

- cut the mortises in the base and the helmet support

I'll get to most of this tomorrow.

Thanks for reading!

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