Guide to Building a
Wooden 5 Pointed Star

By Bob Pepple - fcpjax
December 2005

General Comments:

This project has multiple compound cuts and since the miter and bevel cuts have to fit correctly when glued together, it is important that each piece be nearly identical.  
  • This means you must build sleds to help replicate the pieces correctly.
  • Since you will be making compound cuts on small pieces of wood, the sleds will make sure all the pieces are the same size and uniform.
  • More importantly, make it more likely you will walk away with all your fingers in tact at the end of the project.

  • Note:   Just in case you are a "sled non-believer", as I was, after all real men don't need sleds..right?
  • So, after wasting a lot of time, money, wood and several near misses on the fingers,
  • I broke down and made two sleds
    (my very first sleds)
  • and now I find real smart woodworkers do use sleds.
  • I guess some people just have to learn the hard way...   Ha

  • Building the Sleds:

    The first sled is used for
    cutting the 18 degree angle required for each of the two pieces that make up one point of the star.
  • This sled is 3/4 MDF, 12" X 27", with a
  • 1X3 pine pivot arm.
  • There are cleats under the sled that hold the sled to the SMT on the Ryobi BT3K.

  • Note:   Since completing this project,
  • I have added two miter tables to my BT3K so
  • I will probably modify the sleds to slide in the miter slots next time.

  • Since I was making 18", 24" and 32" stars,
  • I set up this sled for those specific size blanks.

  • By moving the stop down and the pivot out, you are set for the next size blank to be cut at 18 degrees.

  • The size of the star is determined by the width of the lumber used.

  • I used 1X4, 1X6, and 1X8, No. 2 pine.

  • To make 18", 1X4,

  • 24", 1X6, and

  • 32" 1X8 stars.

  • The pivot arm on sled 1 has
  • three set positions depending on the size of star you are making.

  • It is set up for an 18 degree angle for a 1X4 with a stop block at the top position.

  • Then it is also set up to cut 18 degree angles for 1X6 with a stop block in the middle position.

  • It is also set up to cut an 18 degree angle for a 1X8 with a stop block at the bottom position.

  • I set up the pivot arm for each position
  • marking the MDF for the angle and the hole to
  • drill for setting T-nuts in each position to
  • hold the pivot arm and stop block when
  • changing the size of lumber you are using.

  • The second sled is set up for
    cutting the 45 degree bevels on each side of the star points.
  • Since each point of the star has a left and right piece as you look down on the point,

  • the sled is set up to cut the 45 degree angles for a left piece and for a right piece.

  • The center of the point meets to form a 90 degree angle when the two 45 degree pieces are glued together and

  • since the bottoms are also cut at 45 degrees,
  • the point will be 3D but the bottom will lay flat on the table.

  • Tools and Ingredients used:

  • Ryobi BT3K table saw
  • Dewalt 12" sliding compound miter saw
  • Craftsman 18 gauge brad nailer and one inch brads
  • Two sleds made especially for this project
  • 1X4, 1X6, and 1X8 No. 2 pine
  • Yellow glue
  • Dry wall plaster to cover up brad holes and hide imperfections on backside of star.
  • White primer and various colors of latex paint as specified by the commander and chief (LOML).

  • Getting Started:

    I recommend you start building small stars first (in my case the 18") because when you are in the early part of your learning curve, errors occur and it will be less costly when that happens.

  • Since this star has five points and
  • each point is made up of two pieces
  • you can start by cutting ten 18" blanks
    (+ 2 spares)
  • to be used in sled #1 for cutting the 18 degree triangles.
  • Since errors will occur I would cut two extra blanks to cover that contingency.

  • 1.   Cut twelve 18" blanks from the 1X3 stock.
    (10 + 2 spares)

    Cutting the 18 degree angle:

    2.   Using sled #1, cut the 18 degree angle on all 12 blanks so you now have 12 triangles.

    3.   Layout 2 triangle blanks with the straight edge back to back so you have a 36 degree point at the top which will look like one triangle cut down the middle.

    Note:   notice that the two pieces that make up one point are mirror images of each other.   i.e.   you have to turn one side upside down to put the straight edges together.

    4.   Now mark the pieces left and right.

  • Repeat this process till you
  • end up with six left and
  • six right pieces.

  • Note:   I drew an arrow pointing to the straight edge so when I put the left and right pieces together the arrows were pointing at each other.   This will help you maintain your sanity later when it comes time to make the compound cuts.

    Cutting the 45 degree bevels:

    5.   Place each triangle in sled #2 and cut 45 degree bevels on each the two long sides.

  • Repeat this process for all 12 triangles.

  • Cutting the 36 degree compound angle:
    OK, this is the tricky part.

    6.   Set the compound miter saw up for 54 degree miter, that will give you a 36 degree angle on the short end where the points all come together, and a 25 degree bevel which is sloped back toward the 18 degree point.

    7.   Place the left triangle with the arrow pointing to the back edge of the miter and the short side facing the cutting blade.

  • The saw should be in the far right position for a left side cut.

  • Note:   The cut has to be such that you end up with a 36 degree point
  • (2 sides X 36 degrees = 72 degrees)
  • (5 points X 72 degrees + 360 degrees) in the middle when you put the two sides together.

  • Repeat the process for all 6 of the left sides.

  • 8.   Place the right triangle with the
  • arrow pointing to the back edge of the miter and
  • the short side facing the cutting blade.

  • The saw should be in the far left position
  • now reset for 54 degrees miter and a 25 degree bevel.

  • Make sure the bevel is sloping back toward the opposite 18 degree point.

  • Repeat the process for all 6 of the right sides.

  • Assembling the star:

    9.   First place yellow glue on one of the sides (left of right) where the arrow is pointing.

    10.   Place the left and right side of one point together
  • (arrows facing each other) and
  • put several brads on the back side
  • to hold the point together.

  • I put some brads on the front side just to help pull the center together better.

  • Repeat steps 9 & 10 till all five points are assembled.

  • 11.   Now assemble the five points by gluing one of the 36 degree angles and brad nailing it to one of the other points.

  • Repeat this process till the star is complete.

  • 12.   Let set over night for the glue to set up.

    Note:   After the glue set, I used wall plaster to hide any gaps in the back and to cover the brad nails.


    13.   Sand star and prime the wood for paint.

    14.   Paint any desired color as dictated by the boss LOML.

    NOTE:   This was done from memory and I will try to duplicate the steps later to see how good my memory really is so if anyone has a better way please let me know.   I am especially interested in any suggestions on the sleds since this was my first attempt at sled building.

    NOTE:   I would also like to thank
    Frank H. at
    for all his help and encouragement along the way his suggestions really helped me get this project up and running.

    Bob Pepple - fcpjax

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