Being retired, I can no longer afford the beautiful wood slices used frequently to display Bonsai. I knew that I had some old 12mm plywood, so figured I would have a go and see if I could come up with anything that looked half decent from a distance, and acceptable close-up; well, to be fair, as long as it does not shout at you ‘I’m Awful,’ I concluded I should be able to do something.
In this first image you can see it really is just an old off-cut. For this article I am just making a small one suitable for accent plantings to be displayed on. There is no reason why you cannot do one as big as you like, so long as the Plywood has a sensible surface to work with. I’ve already made larger ones suitable for trees and they looked fine when I exhibited a few weeks back.
Here I have hand drawn a shape that I feel works. I have set the Jig-saw at a 35-40 degree angle to simulate the fact the slice has been taken from a tree, where the edge would have been on a flare.
I’m using a clean cut blade and cutting the bottom of the slice; this virtually ensures no splintering. Having so said, the clean cut blade hardly causes any. Pendulum mode is reduced to allow tighter rounded shapes if you wish to do so. Here I am just simply cutting out a shape that will look fine when displayed.
Once cut and initially sanded, I am sealing with Liberon Finishing Oil. I have found it helpful to seal the wood prior to the next steps. Oh fine, I realise it will be sanded down again, but at least with the coarse finish of Ply it helps stop rubbish getting into the grooved areas. You cannot sand overly hard, or simply put you’ll be down below the veneer in no time.
I start with a 120 grit and slowly work up to an eventual 2500 grit which I find more than capable of preparing between coats. I particularly like Hermes paper as it seems to last for ever. Well worn 2500 grit becomes closer to 5000 grit and it useful between finishing coats.
I use a knife to scrape this onto the edges (roughly) and see if I can get a slight angle, although not really of importance. I use MIG weathering powders to colour the filler. It will take stain if you want to try that method after it has set.