Mood Barometer

DIY, New Item

I was recently asked to make a Mood Barometer. Here is an image of the one I made:


Completed Mood Barometer

The customer who approached me indicated that she had safety concerns for her colleagues and other people that she work with during the day 🙂 One way to help them would be for her to have an indicator on her office door. This indicator will provide some information regarding the risk that they place themselves in when approaching her at that specific point in time. We thus discussed the possibility of this mood indicator and and after a few draft designs she approved the construction of the mood barometer shown here.

Following is the a video of the building process. Below I provide some additional images and details for building this or a similar mood barometer. The plans for this item is available here (Pattern for sale on Induku on Etsy).

The process starts with cutting the Baltic birch plywood blanks. I decided to use 6mm for the back and 4mm for the front. Plywood are often bent and I found that the 6mm sheet I had in stock was a bit warped. Treatment for this is to apply some water with a sponge to the concave side. I placed it against the heater in my shop with the convex side towards the heat. After a few hours the board was more straight and I clamped it between two flat surfaces overnight to help it flatten out a bit more. The following day it was flat enough to start cutting.


Slightly warped 6mm Baltic birch plywood

After the templates are cut, I sand both pieces. I find it very useful to sand all before using the scroll saw for many reasons. In this case the first reason is to remove all the irregularities caused by the water. Also many of the pieces, after cutting, are quite small and having an initial sanding on the larger banks is much, much easier. The time sanding after cutting is generally reduced and the main area mainly needs only touching up, rather than complete sanding. This does not mean that there is no sanding after cutting, on the contrary, most of the sanding is done afterwards (see below) but an initial sanding helps a lot!


Initial sanding

The next step is to add the templates to both pieces. I like to wrap the wood in masking tape (painters tape) since it is very easy to remove once the wood has been cut. It also prevents a lot of the tear-out and fuzzy edges forming. I stick the pattern on the masking tape and cover it with clear tape (this helps to keep the image edges sharp and not smudge during all the handling, it also helps to lubricate the blade).


Preparing the blanks

Once the preparation of the blanks are done I drill the hole in which the indicator arrow will pivot. This is quite important to do separately on both pieces while the plans are attach since this will allow for easy alignment later on when the patterns are removed. After this is done I drill all the entry holes for the internal cut areas on the front piece.


Drilling the pivot hole

I start the cutting with the the backing piece. This is only one big piece and I cut it with a #5 reverse tooth blade. With this piece cut I stain it using a “Dark Walnut” a water based stain. I add 3 coats with of several hours drying and light sanding in between.


Backing piece cut and stained – first coat

Then the main part of the project starts – the sawing of all the pieces of the main image. I cut the top diamond and the arrow (the arrow is stained in the same way as the backing piece). I continue cutting the characters by removing the bulk of the demon.


Demon and a few of his pieces

After this I cut all the pieces of the demon, including the internal cuts. I do most of the cutting with a #2 reverse tooth blade. Some of the cuts are a bit challenging since the pieces are quite small.


All the pieces of a demon

Even more challenging is not losing pieces through the gap in the saw table insert (I have done so with previous projects). A simple trick to prevent this is to make a zero clearance base by taking a flat piece of wood (I use a 4mm piece of plywood), cutting into it and clamping it in place. I saw this trick on the jimmydiresta’s youtube channel (Bandsaw Tips) and applied it to this, very similar, problem.

zero clearance

Zero clearance “plate”

A second issue is that with this many small and odd shaped parts it is difficult to quickly know which piece goes where. To help with this I marked the back of the wood with a pen. Much less time is thus spent turning the pieces over in your hand trying to figure out which side is up.


Back of the front piece marked with pen

I did, unfortunately, encounter another problem commonly found with plywood: tear-out of the top layer. This happend only on the demon’s right hand and I had to cut another hand. Luckily I had a kept the scrap wood and used a piece coming from just next to the original hand and the shade and grain is thus extremely similar.


The demon’s second hand

Once the demon was done I repeated the process with the angel. The angel is a much simpler character and took much less time to cut and there were no problems with any of the pieces. The next step is to cut all the letters. This font is very angular and quite easy to cut.


The wing of an angel

After all the sawing is done I spent quite a lot of time sanding (I find this is true for most projects involving wood). I remove all the fuzzy edges from the back and sand up to 240 grit. I also use various strips of sandpaper, home made scroll saw sanding belts, emery boards etc to sand between the cuts. I sand the front of all the pieces to 800 grit with a very slight rounded edge. To remove all the dust I place a mesh net on the nozzle of a vacuum cleaner and go over all the pieces with it. It is an effective way to remove the sawdust from between the cuts.


Dust removal

I did several dry builds on the pattern to make sure that all the pieces fit and have the correct look. When I was satisfied with everything I commenced the glueing. I mentioned that the pivot hole is pivotal in aligning the pieces. To do so I placed a skewer (later also serving as the axle of the indicator) into both pieces after applying glue to the back of the front piece. Once in place I clamped these pieces overnight.


Clamping the main pieces together

Again I arrange all the pieces in their places before adding glue and then one by one I remove them, add glue and replace to ensure the image remains as planned. This process took approximately 3 hours.


Doing a dry fitting of the characters


Gluing done!

I also made two wooden washers for the indicator and started the assembly of this part. I also made 3 small legs from a piece of dowel.


Large washer for the back


Freshly sanded wooden legs

To add some highlights to the images I paint the demon’s eyes red and white and the angels halo yellow.


Preparing to paint

To finish the mood barometer I coated the back and front (and indicator arrow) with several coats of glossy lacquer. The last step is of course to add the indicator arrow and the shop logo.


Angel closeup – after 4 coats of lacquer


Back of Mood Barometer with shop lable

I am quite happy with how well the image in wood reflects the original design. I usually spend quite a lot of time designing pieces and often make only one. This item was commissioned and I will probably not stock these. I do however think other people may find inspiration from this design and make their own mood barometers. If you, however, want to make the same one the design is available for sale (Pattern for sale on Induku on Etsy).


Warped clock.


The clock we bought from IKEA several years ago started to lose its face. This caused the hands to get stuck and we needed a new clock. I am currently busy making a wooden clock (including the mechanism), from plans that my wife bought me (click here for the most awesome wooden clock site anywhere), but I thought I will make something a bit less ambitious in the meantime. I thus designed and made this warped clock-face and added a normal quartz mechanism:


Completed warped clock

The video below is a speed up version of the whole DIY process described below (high speed cutting start at 0.25):

I wanted to make something that is a bit unique and have recently seen several wooden objects with a “digital flaw” designed into the object. The process thus starts with the design and I drew a reasonably normal face and digitally warped it and printed the image.


Selection of the wood – 4 mm and 6 mm Baltic Birch Plywood


4 square pieces cut stacked and taped

Since the face is quite thin I decided to make several at once (the additional clocks can be bought here). I cut stack two 4 mm and two 6 mm pieces and tape it together (total thickness is thus 2 cm which is no problem). The time per cut is slightly slower but the overall time to make four clocks is much, much faster.


Entry holes drilled

I use masking tape (painters tape) on the wood itself and use a glue stick to stick the pattern to the tape. I find that the masking tape is very easy to remove from the wood. It also reduce the amount of splintering (especially when crosscutting pine plywood). The stacks are also held in place with the masking tape. I cover the pattern with packing tape. Once this is set up I drill the entry holes.


Cutting the inside first


View from the back – I find that looking at the back the final image emerging is much clearer without the pattern interfering visually

At this stage I had all these pieces and got side tracked. I posted this on Facebook and asked people to guess what I am making. I promised a small prize and this was the beginning of the competitions that I now sometimes have (here is the current competition):




Small pendant as prize!

I continued with the outside cuts. I did however need to re-wrap the stacked pieces together as the masking tape originally keeping the stacks together (on the outer edge) was cut away.


Supporting tape all over the place

Once done I started to remove the template and tape. IMG_0088

Which led to four identical clock faces. As usual with all woodworking projects, a lot of sanding takes place. Each piece was sanded from 240 to 800 grit.   IMG_0090

I coated the faces with clear lacquer and the differences in color became quite apparent. Next, the fitting of the quartz mechanisms. I simply stuck them to the wood with some hot-glue and added the hands.


Various natural colors


Back of clock


Side view of 6 mm clock showing the plywood layers

I am happy with how these clocks turned out. A few people had comments on what a shame it was that the wood warped in such an ugly fashion, which gave me a nice feeling of accomplishment 🙂


Currently in our kitchen

One clock is now in our kitchen and the others I will sell (here). I will, in the future, probably design more digital error patterns and have several plans to make pixelated wooden items.


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Stitched wooden cover notebook.


I had a couple of pine plywood pieces left from a previous project, that did not work exactly as planned, and thought I could use it to make some novel book covers. I like Coptic stitching and wanted to extend this theme into the cover itself. I thus decided to cut the wooden covers into several pieces and stitch them together again. When I bound it into a book I got the following:

01_wooden_stitched book

Final product!

The process of making such a book is quite simple. Here is how I did it:


Blank cover

I start with a 2 blank covers just bigger than an A5 sheet of paper. I stick the covers together with masking-tape. The plan is then printed and pasted onto one of the covers.



First all the holes are drilled where indicated and then all the pieces are cut. Below is an image of all the pieces drilled, cut and sanded.


Cut pieces of the two covers

I used 2 different stains and different numbers of coats in a semi-random fashion to get a few different tones. After the staining was done I added 5 layers of glossy clear lacquer to both sides of each piece.


Fitting the pieces

I wax the thread using some bees wax (I saw this technique online – link below).

05_5waxing thread

Waxing the thread

The stitching is quite simple. I just stitch trough each hole twice making a cross on the front.


Stitching begins


Closeup of stitches


Almost done


Fist cover – other projects in the background

Both covers are done. They show the difference between the front and the back of the stitching pattern. Note also that I added extra holes on the edges to add additional detail where the binding to the paper would be.


Both covers done – front and back shown

I fold 70 A4 pages in half and make signatures of 5 pages each. The 14 signatures are stacked and clamped ready to be cut. Note also the edge stitching is done in the image below.


Clamping the pages

Usually an awl is used with some template to punch holes in each signature. I prefer cutting the holes with a scroll saw. This way they line up perfectly and small slits are created rather than holes. The Coptic stitches lies also a bit deeper when done, making a much cleaner binding.


Using a scroll saw to cut the pages


Slits rather than holes for stitching

The binding then begins with another long piece of waxed thread.


First signature


Slowly adding signatures – 14 in total

Finally the book is done. I am quite pleased with the result.




Inside of cover


Middle of signatures


Closeup of Coptic stitching


Adding some branding

I really enjoyed making this book. The final result is quite unique. Some people have mentioned that they prefer look of the stitches on the inside and it is possible to bind it the other way around – this was just my preference.  I will sell this book in my shop (buy it here) and possibly make more using a similar technique.

I recently learned how to do Coptic stitching mainly from looking at the following videos by Sea Lemon:

I found this channel as an extremely useful resource for this type of project.

Lastly I want to mention that I used the image of the cut pieces in a competition (here). I will soon make another book that I will give away in a competition. Below is the covers ready to be stitched. I will use Coptic stitching and have a black front cover page. I am quite excited to have this done and see how it turns out!


Sneak preview of next book giveaway!