The trivet that I failed on numerous times

Okay, so for my fourth pay it forward gift, I made a trivet for Lynne who, like me, went to Carnegie Mellon. This trivet contains the thistle symbol for CMU.

I failed at this build many, many times. First, I thought I would cut some blue and green ceramic tile and inlay that into a piece of wood. Needless to say, I couldn’t cut all the tiny pieces and make it look anything remotely like the thistle. Then I thought I’d use fireglass and make an image out of that. Yeah, that failed miserably, too. Then I decided to switch to wood and use a technique I had employed previously to make a rose for my wife.

So, step one. Obtain…….drumroll please……important Turkish oak chips. Yep, that’s right. This project is made with oak chips imported from Turkey. I won’t go into how I got them, but let’s just say it involved a transportation company delivering them before I had the import permit….which is kind of against the law. Then, after the chips were legally cleared to enter the US, they disappeared for a week.

So, here’s what the chips looked like originally.


Yes, they came in squares like that. Unfortunately, they were all slightly different, so I had to size them up to 1″ x 1″. To the table saw!

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After cutting a bunch of them, I glued them to some poster board. Here’s what they looked like after cutting.


I made up two sheets, sanded them, and then stained one a light color and one a dark color. I had to do this twice because it didn’t quite turn out how I liked. My wife came up with the brilliant idea to sort the pieces by original color (light/dark) and orient the grain one way for one color and one for another.

I also cut out a recessed base for the tiles. Here’s my Shapeoko machine milling stuff out of some red oak. This stock piece was made by jointing/cutting some leftover materials and gluing them together to make a square piece. It was then planed to give it a uniform thickness.


I then laser cut the thistle image at TechShop. Since one sheet was stained light and one dark, I actually ended up with two versions. I selected the light background with dark inset.


Then I glued the image into the recessed piece of wood, put some polyurethane on the back/sides, and poured a clear epoxy glaze over the image. Here’s the finished piece.


So, there you have it. One CMU thistle trivet made of of red oak and imported Turkish oak.