A Meaningful Sign

Last Christmas I was searching for a Christmas gift for a brother-in-law. Sometimes I can find a present that I know the recipient will like, but usually I have to really think hard, because generic gifts such as booze just aren’t my thing. Not unless I know that they particularly like a specific brand of spirits or wine. Then my wife came across an ad for a customizable sign. “You can oder it with an arrow pointing to the airport where he keeps his 1947 airplane, and that would put a smile on his face” she said. So I tried ordering it. Everything went well until the ordering software said I had to use miles instead of kilometres for the distance to the airfield. Basically, “No Dice”. So then I had to make the sign. I will also say that making the sign was a whole lot of fun and I really enjoyed doing it.

The sign base is clear cedar. I chose this particular piece because of its fairly straight grain. It’s a nice piece of wood. The raised letters are from some Padauk that I bought some years ago. When scroll-sawing it, a fine red dust appears on my jeans – it’s very red – almost a badge of honour. After a few years Padauk will fade a bit, but when fresh cut, it is almost orange. It’s an easy wood to cut and fun to work with.

A Pleasant Reminder


The mother of pearl plane is cut from a picture of a Bellanca Cruisair that I gleaned from the internet. Note that the landing gear was fairly delicate to cut, especially the tail dragger – delicate until it was inlayed, and the glue had set. Held my breath a lot. The 33.6 km was taken from a Google map, starting at my brother-in-law’s place, with destination of Springbank Airport where he stores his Bellanca. The background (mountain) profile is from an internet photo of a plane taxiing along a runway at Springbank Airport. Unfortunately, the perspective of the photo wasn’t quite what I wanted, but it was at least similar, so I used a little bit of “artistic licence” and it worked. I also figured that the stem of the arrow would make a good runway, and it did. The background wood is rosewood (possible Cocobolo) from a scrap given to me by a friend some years ago.

Bellanca Cruiseair – Just about to take off.


I know the photos of my old Chris Craft Constellation (boat) give me a lot of pleasure. Hopefully, this sign gives my brother-in-law similar pleasure – he hung it near the door leading outside, so that it’s always a reminder that his plane is waiting to take him on another adventure.

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