Jack-o’-lantern out of reclaimed wood

Unlike the last time I tried building something ready for Halloween, I’m somewhat proud of the fact that I was able to have an idea for a project on a Thursday, and have it finished by the Sunday.

The idea was inspired by a wooden Jack-o’-lantern I spotted in a shop window while on holiday in Cheddar Gorge – as I saw it, I thought to myself “I can make that”, and as soon as we got back to the hotel room, I did some research and found this awesome video, which served as the basis for my own build:

Now, if you was to ask Lucy what the percentage of projects born out of I can make that moments I’ve actually built, she’d no doubt tell you it’s close to 0% – but unlike all the other times I’ve said this, wherein there’d always be a asterisk stating something like “…if I had a laser cutter”, this time I knew I already had everything I needed.

The wood used was reclaimed from a couple of pallets I obtained a few weeks ago via a posting on gumtree. I’d never responded to such an ad before, so didn’t really know what I was doing – so there I was, with Lucy for moral support, at a building site in Malvern trying to figure out the best way to fit the pallets into my car.

The hardest part about using pallets for project is they’re a bugger to break apart. Even armed with a pallet buster I found it hard work trying to pry them apart without breaking the planks.

Anyway, the build took about an hour and a half, following the Just Make It design closely. Much like in the video, I stuck to using a jigsaw for all the cuts. This resulted in wonky edges and imperfect corners, but as suggested in the video, this just adds to the rustic charm – and I’m honestly really happy with it. I think I even prefer it to the one I saw in the shop window.

There’s no finish on it right now, because I really like the burnt look and I’m concerned a shiny varnish might take away from this. I’m going repeat the burning technique on a piece of scrap wood for a varnish test, so if it doesn’t look too bad, I can add varnish to it later. That said, I’m not planning on putting it outside, and it’s not something that would be actively handled, so I can’t see there being any real issues leaving it as is.

The last thing I did was use the Circuit Playground Express I got via my Hackspace magazine subscription, and coded up (aka copy/pasted) a simulated candle. I love this effect, and think it looks much better than the crappy £1 led tea lights I got from Tiger.

Anyway, my next post will be about the 3rd project in the Weekend Woodworker course. I built it last weekend, but need to do a ton more sanding on it before I apply a finish. Expect that post before the start of next week.

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