Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Making Simple Wood Cross Necklaces

Once in a while there is a great woodshop project that comes along and today was that day again. This is one of those projects where the greatness can  easily be lost in the pure simplicity of making it.

It began last week when one of the court counselors who is associated with our program asked if I could repair a couple of small wood crosses that had come apart. It looked like a simple enough job so I finally got a moment to play with it today and discovered an absolutely fantastic new project for the students in my woodshop classes.

When tapping the tiny dowel rod into the two pieces I broke one of the crosses which ended up being a fortunate opportunity because I then had to make another one from scratch. Doing so, I had to figure out all the measurements then take it from the bottom up and I thought about what a nice project this was.

I first cut a small square of oak on the table saw 1/4" X 1/4" then cut one piece 1-3/4" long and another 1-1/4" long. On the long piece I then used the drill press to drill a 1/8" hole for the necklace cord. Next I used the bandsaw to cut two overlap notches on each piece, then connected the "cross" pieces with wood glue and pressed them together firmly with pliers.

I then switched out the 1/8" drill bit for a smaller 1/16" bit which I used to make a hole "top dead center" straight through the "cross" in the two pieces of wood. The last remaining step was rolling the dowel rod in a bit of wood glue then carefully tapping it firmly into the hole. I broke the first cross because when I was tapping the dowel rod I had left way too much dead air space underneath for support. I corrected this mishap with the remaining crosses by drilling just a 1/4" hole in a piece of scrap wood for the tapping of the dowel. That made all the difference giving the cross plenty of support during this conjuncture in connection.
The best part of this relatively simple
woodshop project came this afternoon when I was showing the crosses to my students and saw their initial excitment. Three of the nine students asked if they could make one so another very popular project has been discovered. I gave them the measurements and one of my completed crosses for a visual aid and they did a grand job of making three absolutely perfect crosses.

As seen in some of the pictures above, they cut out the measured overlap notches on the scroll saw until the two pieces fit together snug and firm. Just one of the kids failed to get a snug fit on the first try but he stuck with it until it was right. The kids leave Thursday on a short home visit so it was an exciting afternoon completing unfinished projects and making new ones for their families.

On top of that the woodshop atmosphere was just right. As you can see in the picture to the right the snow was falling again all afternoon and we got another 4" of the stuff. Inside the shop it was warm and snug as we just went about our way making great stuff with our hands and a few simple tools. Just don't get any better than that!


  1. Dave, you've helped me a great deal! I just got some 1/4" walnut from an Amish carpenter in Shipshewana Indiana, and was looking for good dimensions for a cross to make the blank. Your's works perfectly! If a whole piece doesn't work out now I can come back and make them out of two just like you did. Thanks for the help!

  2. You're more than welcome Dean and thanks for the feedback and kind words Dean. I'm really glad that this little project is working out great for you too.

  3. umm i am thinking of making a business am i am thinking of making and selling these but i would like to know... is that ok with you?

    email me at:

  4. Thanks for sharing the DIY wood cross making steps. The information will be of great help to the people looking for options to impress their friends by gifting handmade religious jewelries. One can make several wood cross necklaces during the holiday season, and use these as creative Christmas gifts.

  5. Thanks Bro for the pictures, i go make my own crosses, be Blessed Xxxx

  6. Trying to figure out how I can make an orthodox cross for myself and possibly as a gift to my grandfather. Little more complex. Maybe carving with a Dremel tool.

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