Makin’ the Bacon, part one

It’s been a week.  No, the bank isn’t done.  But, here’s part one on making the Minecreaft pig-themed piggy bank..  So far, I’ve used just one tool: a jig saw.  While I didn’t have the stock on hand and had to purchase materials.  The good news?  It was less than $20.  (Including the Mountain Dew that’s fueling this post…)

And the materials used?  Well, not the full 8 foot 2×4 that I purchased.  Nor the full sheet of 2foot by 2foot oak plywood, 1/4 inch thick.  (Why oak?  it was cheaper than the pine plywood, of the same thickness.)

Jigsaw blade used
Jigsaw blade used

The incidentals, such as the jigsaw, the blade, and the green tape, I already owned.  The blade for the jigsaw is fine for the 2x 4, but not for the plywood.  I’d recommend a finer tooth for the plywood.  Even using the tape to minimize the tear-out (splintering), it was a rough cut.  And it’s still not complete.  But I wanted to show you where we are in the process.  It’s not really that difficult, and if you have a table saw, it’s easier.  If you don’t have one, though, you can still do it.  (That’s why I’m doing it “the hard way,” as it were; to show what is possible with as simple a tool set as possible.)

This is not a highly technical project, as I’m unable to reach all the tools and toys of the shop.  (My shop is currently alternately flooded and snowed out.  So all sandpaper, chisels, fine-tooth saws, and proper tools are locked away for a moment.)  But it can be done in just a weekend.  Start by cutting the 2×4 into blocks roughly four inches long.  (Since 2×4’s aren’t actually 2 inches by 4 inches, you need to cut the blocks into chunks as long as the two by stock is wide.  Use a scrap piece of 2x stock to determine this width.)

cutting the 2x stock...
cutting the 2x stock…

This process can be done one at a time, or all at once.  I’d recommend laying out the cutting lines one at a time; pick one block as the template and use it to mark all the sides.  The blade I used in the jigsaw is great for cutting the thicker stock, but still leaves jagged edges.  This is fine, if you plan on sanding the edges (which I will do the next time I get to work on the project).  I used the same blade to work on the plywood, as I indicated earlier, and… well…

 

Parts lined up after cutting, before sanding.
Parts lined up after cutting, before sanding.

Let’s just say that the sanding is a necessary step.  Here’s the four blocks lined up, side by side.  You can see that the edges are rough, and need to be sanded.  I will sand these with a powered sander.  I have both a quarter sheet sander and a random orbit sander, and have not decided which I will use yet.  (Probably the Random Orbit, or ROS, but we’ll see.)  The benefits of the quarter sheet: it’s a square sheet of sandpaper, so material costs are lower since I can use any sand paper; it sands back and forth in a predictable pattern, so sanding rough edges are easy; and it’s easy to find in the shop.  The ROS has benefits, too: I have the progression of sanding pads necessary; it has a sanding exhaust port with a screen attached (I don’t have the shop vac set up yet) to filter out and catch most of the sanding dust; I know where the case is in the shop to use the tool.  While it doesn’t sound like a difficult choice, it’s far more balanced than it appears.  It’s necessary, too, as the rough edges need to be smoothed out, the cuts are not even, and the sides will not fit well unless the edges are straight.

Starting the sides
Starting the sides

At this point, I laid out two of the blocks (without sanding) for the sides, to make space for the coins in the bank.  There’s no magical measurement here; I simply laid them out to something that looked like a reasonable size.  I marked the back edge of one block, and the side edge of both, making sure that one block is aligned with the corner of the plywood.  I laid a straight edge between these two lines, and “connected the dots” by drawing another line.  The blocks are set up to be the front and back of the bank, with the plywood the sides, top, and bottom of the pig.

The back of the plywood, with the first cutout taped.
The back of the plywood, with the first cutout taped.

I knew that the blade would be rough on the plywood.  Because I’m using quarter inch plywood, I’m expecting splintering or blowout on the back edge.  Due to the way the jigsaw is set up, it cuts on the push stroke down into the piece, so the tape is on the bottom of the wood.  I should have taped both sides, but I had already laid out the cut lines and didn’t want to do the work over again.  I’d recommend anybody doing this project to do a rough layout, and tape both sides if they do not use a table saw.  (Possibly even if you use a table saw.)

showing the rough edges
showing the rough edges

After cutting out the end of the cut (I recommend starting with the “side” cuts before cutting the long way, along with the grain of the top sheets of plywood), you can see how rough the cut is.  Even with the tape, it’s going to need some attention.  I did not use a straightedge guide on this, so if you have one, even just a sheet of plywood with the factory edge to rest the edge of the jigsaw against, use it.  The difficulty is the jigsaw I have does not allow for a very thick guide, prompting the decision to free-hand cut these.

Temporarily holding the sides in place.
Temporarily holding the sides in place.

After cutting out the first side, I used it as the template to lay out the next side.  I used the simple method of taping the side in place afterwards, taping it to the front and back blocks, flush with one edge and overhanging slightly on the other.  This was actually a happy accident, but further sides didn’t go quite as far as I had hoped.  The products I’ve purchased will help in filling the gaps, if necessary – or I can just cut new sides, if the sanding I’m going to do reduces the sides too far.

 

Right now, the blocks have been cut out, one at a time.  Just like the sides have been cut out, one at a time.  The last side is just short enough, that there will be a slight piece left over.  Be careful when cutting this last piece: I’d start by cutting the end (the shorter cut) before cutting the side.  Go ahead and cut off the last little sliver – you won’t need it later except as perhaps a glue spreader or putty spreader.  I haven’t fastened the sides yet.  I’m planning on using glue and brads, in the best Norm approach, although I don’t have a pneumatic nail gun or electric gun or stapler.  So here’s where the pig sits now.  The plan will be to drill holes in the bottom to hold for the legs, and a larger hole in the front block to hold the head.  This means the head will be shaped somewhat to fit into the hole.  We’ll cover that next time.  For now, I’ll leave you with the project in process… and we’ll work the details out in the next part.

Pig in Process, stage one
Pig in Process, stage one
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