Quick Project: Yard Art Turkey

The fountains are fun but they take quite a bit of time as we have to make each piece. And sometimes you just want a quick fun project.

I started this during the week, using some scrap fence boards we’d picked up a while back. They became the turkey feathers. I cut the head out of a scrap of particle board.

wooden turkey yard art

On Saturday, we made the profile of the turkey head and the wattle from a piece of copper.  We also made a better base out of some scrap wood so the turkey would be more stable.

wooden turkey yard art


The Tipsy Fountain Preview (Fountain #4) – A Work in Progress

We’ve been spending a few hours every weekend working on another fountain. After making the one with the bottles that pour into each other and then into a mounted glass, we thought “Wouldn’t it be cool if the glass could tip over and then refill?” (I’ve temporarily named it The Tipsy Fountain.) Oh my!  As with many ideas, it sounded so simple. Well not simple, but I don’t think either of us had a clue as to how complex it would be and how many components we would end up making.

First we built a base from scratch, rather than using a recycled chair stand.  This involved me turning the largest thing I’ve ever turned, a 4×4 with some additional wood laminated onto it. It was a little scary to flip the switch on the lathe the first time but all went well. Rather than suspending the half wine barrel reservoir we built a beefy stand from a piece of a steel column that was on its way to the landfill when we spotted it,  It took a few whacks cutting that down to size and bending the shoulders, then creating the cross piece that will support the barrel and cutting the slots for it to slide into the column.

spun 4x4 for fountain yardarm


Once we had the barrel in place, we mocked up the tipping glass: duct taping the wine glass to a piece of wood that rotated, using clamps as a counterweight, trying to find the perfect balance where the glass would fill, tip over and empty, then get upright again to start the process over. We laughed out loud when we got it working–but it was too slow and inconsistent so we switched out the wood for a metal mounting arm.  Then it was too fast and we laughed louder.  It was comical.

First up was figuring out how to slow the movement down. We built a platform for the glass and used a steel rod as the rotating piece. Marlo got the brilliant idea to use magnetic friction to slow the glass movement down, so then we had to build all those parts and play around with different sizes and strengths of magnets.  There was a lot of sparks flying.

grinding some metal

The glass fits over the round piece of walnut. We switched the counterweight from clamps to a copper ball.The copper counterweight is adjustable in the back slot, although we’re probably scrapping the copper ball.

At the same time we were also figuring out how to hang the wooden spigot we’d found at an antique show, which will fill the glass, and the antique metal  valve we are using to split the water flow.

Now we are back to the counterweight and glass movement. We successfully slowed the glass movement down but we need stoppers at either part of the journey. Again with the magnets! So more are on order and we began building the piece that will hold them just above the barrel.

It’s amazing how many different components there are to this, each hand built with threads tapped and insets embedded, screws cut to length, magnets hidden about the piece, brackets built (cut, drilled, ground and mounted).

threading a hole in metal


When you look at it at the end, much of our work will be invisible and you won’t see the many steps it took to get it all working.

Ebony Cheese Knives or Dip Spreaders

Once we made the first board, we started talking about cheese knives. Marlo had two old pieces of ebony. They were actually decorative carved heads that had seen better days. They were a great length for a long cheese knife so we each set about turning one. Marlo used his metal lathe and I used my wood one to turn the handles, then we used our belt sanders to make the blades. It turns out that the woods were not the same. You can see how much darker his is. But oh my! Once buffed out, they look like they have a varnish on them.

ebony cheese knives

We then bought a small set of ebony pen blanks and I turned the handles on the wood lathe. I did a few blades and Marlo did a few. He has made quite a few metal knives over the years so has more experience making blades for sure. But what a trip. I love making functional art and it’s fun to stretch your comfort zones a bit.

ebony cheese knives and dip spreaders

ebony cheese knife

These are the first items up on our Etsy shop.