the Coin Display

This was a woodworking project that I was actually honored to make for an Army doctor friend of mine.  She has served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan (thank you for your service EB!)   For various reasons and circumstances, army service members exchange honor coins like those you will see in the following pictures.  My friend asked me to make her some type of display unit to showcase her coins.  Knowing that her unit’s nickname is the “rakkasans” with their unit’s symbol presented below,  I developed an idea that would be a challenging project with an interesting visual result.  I decided to create a display stand with an embedded rakkason symbol, mind you the rakkasan symbol is not an inlay on each end, it’s actually is part of the structure.toriWhat I had to do was create this in 4 different layers!   But the challenging aspect was knowing that each layer would need to be thickness planed smooth for gluing, so it would need to be designed thicker to start with.  (A thickness planer  removes a small amount of surface material thereby reducing it’s thickness, and if you have sharp planer blades, a perfect gluing surface).

I printed out an enlarged version of the rakkasan symbol you see above.  It was further divided into four parts: the top horizontal section, mid section supports, bottom horizontal section and lower supporting legs.  Each of the layered pieces were cut and glued into a single wide flat layer.  After drying overnight, each layer was again machined smooth in the planer and prepare for gluing.  This was the hardest part of the process.  The darker rakkason symbol pieces (made of Brazilian Cherry) did not line up perfectly with the ones above and below, but it came out pretty close.   The other wood material is Hard Maple.

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Setup for gluing.

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Out of the clamps and ready for more work (I made two at the same time; one for her work and home.

The next step was to use a hand held router to round the top edges as well as cut a slot for the coins to rest in.

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At this point and other than the application of a protective finish coat, my original plan was finished.  But I did not like how it looked, it didn’t seem balanced.  A bit to top-heavy.  So after thinking a bit about how it looked, I knew I needed to do something.  As it was, as your eye moves across the desk it would visually see a “wall” before seeing the coins, not a good design.  I decided to add a small front shelve.  Not only would this ease the transition from the bottom to the top of the display, it would add 50% more display capacity.  Here is the result:

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Much better, right?

End grain closeup

End grain closeup

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A finish coat of simple mineral oil was applied and I was finished.  This was definitely one of my most rewarding woodworking projects.  A unique one of a kind design; a meaningful gift for an equally unique doctor/soldier/friend who proudly served our country.

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