Tips for Fastening Together Large Pieces for Wall Art

Hi, everyone! I’m designing several large pieces of wall art that will require me to use multiple sheets of wood and piece them together. For instance, I am creating a large mandala that will be 4 sheets that need to be combined for one layer (and then there will be subsequent layers as well). I am wondering what your techniques are for joining pieces that are flat. Do you use a physical joint/puzzle technique with glue? Is there special hardware that works well? Any pro tips? Thanks!

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I think most people just use a “puzzle piece” join, but you can really do it any way you want it. Some have followed the design itself and made some really cool looking joins.

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So, welcome to the forum, there’s a lot of reading ahead of you!

You have two major things to consider: joining your pieces and aligning your layers.

As for joining, here’s an exploration of some butt jointing techniques that I wrote up a while back:

And for alignment, I like to use registration pins, specifically brass rods, but you can use anything from dowels to pegs that you cut on your GF. I did a series of posts on mandalas too, they all use pin registration. You can find them here:

https://community.glowforge.com/search?q=@evansd2%20in:first%20mandala%20%23glowforge-project-examples%20order:latest

And I did a project way way back that uses dowels for registration:

Things I would search for if I were in your shoes and any of these seem unfamiliar to you:

  • kerf correction
  • registration
  • passthrough
  • layered art
  • path editing
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Just thinking outside the box here.
If it does not conflict with your design, you can always use a flat backplane material like a solid sheet of plywood, stiff cardstock, etc.
I imagine it would also help retard any bowing from the different sections reacting differently to heat, moisture, whatever.

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Thank you for all of this! I wasn’t sure what to search for - this is VERY helpful!

My two cents…

The shape I wanted was locked but symmetrical (This was before finishing)

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I generally just butt-join the straight edges which is the least visible.

As stated above, however, some designs lend themselves to visible connections that enhance the overall look.

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As stated above, I’d let your design drive it. In the photo below I used the technique @Jules recommended, but I did it with those diamond shapes to help conceal the lines (poorly as you’ll see if you zoom in). There are two backing layers and then the top layer. As I already had the locking shape, I used those on the bottom layers but offset where the break ran through the material.

My suggestion is to think about your design and think about how you are going to conceal the breaks if you choose to go that route.

I used some cheap material on the piece pictured and my kerf adjustment led to too tight a fit and I wound up damaging some of the points fitting it together. Those aren’t necessarily related things. Another issue was I used masking, scored it, peeled off what I was painting and painted it. Repeated for each color. This meant that when I was finished using a filler and sanding the heck out of it to conceal the break and then painting over it wasn’t an option. So, you know, think it all through. And you’ll get better at kerf adjustment: simple in principle, requires trial and error in practice.

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