How to Make Wooden Butterfly Wall Art With the Ridgid 18V Octane Jig Saw and ¼ Sheet Sander

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Ridgid 18V Octane jig saw and 1/4 sheet sander

What's This?This post is sponsored by The Home Depot. Here at Home Fixated, we like to put our tools to work on useful projects like lawn and home maintenance, repairs and construction. Sometimes we just do stuff that needs to be done. But today’s project is purely for the fun of it. We received an R8832 Ridgid 18V Octane jig saw and R86064 ¼ sheet sander to try out. Both tools served us well on the DIY picnic table project. This time they help us metamorphose wooden “caterpillars” into a pair of beautiful butterflies. We’ll take you under our wing and show you how to make your own butterfly wall art!

He’s Got The Biggest Moths Of Them All

Ridgid R8832 jig saw and R86064 ¼ sheet sander
The Ridgid R8832 jig saw and R86064 ¼ sheet sander helped make this project easy and fun.

Some projects are made for charity. And some hold your fancy dress. But when they’re made for pleasure they’re the projects I like best. I know butterflies aren’t moths (though they are related), but-ter I was flying trying to pique your insect interest so you don’t just flutter by. And “big butterflies” doesn’t really parody Aussie rock with quite the same zing.

Butterfly patterns
I printed each butterfly across four sheets of paper and taped them together at the seams.

This project began with a certain lady’s love of butterflies and purple-blue hues. Then the butterfly patterned pillows she bought for our couch. In an effort to give her butterflies of anticipation (and maybe score me some butterfly kisses), I decided to make complementary pieces to dress up the bare wall behind said sofa.

Body/wing boundaries
Draw straight cut lines between the wings and body.

Start by creating your patterns. For mine, I found two clip art silhouettes online and customized them with a basic imaging program. I reshaped the wings, bodies and antennae on one side and added a white “cut line” between the bodies and wings. Then I copied that half and pasted it – flipped horizontally – to the other side.

Wing separation
Cut the wings away from the body. Trim most of the excess paper from around the wings and body, but leave a white margin. The high contrast makes it a lot easier to follow the outline as you cut them with a saw.

How To Make A “Ridgid” Butterfly

Patterns on wood
Use spray adhesive to attach the wing patterns to your material. Leave space at the straight “body edge”. I positioned the wings at an angle to give me diagonal grain.

Real butterflies are elegant, soft and pliable. Ours are stiff, hard wood. To give this project a sense of grace and motion, we’re going to set the wings at an angle to the body, as if they’re flapping. So the body and wings are cut separately and joined later.

The wood you use is up to you. Decent quality plywood would work if you don’t mind the layered look at the edges. I went with a 1×10 pine board (actual measurements: 3/4” x 9-1/4”). Since I’ll be painting these, I’m not particularly concerned with using pretty wood. If you plan to use a natural finish (clear coat) you may want to select wood with interesting character.

Welcome To Our Wooden Wingding!

Cordon off the area.
Draw lines at the ends of the “body edges” so you don’t accidentally cut that material prematurely.

I’d suggest 3/4” thick wings for a piece this large, but you can get away with 1/2” (or even thinner if you add glue blocks to the back of the “body edges”). I know some of the wood grain will show through my paint job, so I tilted the wings in opposite directions to give it a symmetrical appearance. It’s subtle and not absolutely necessary, but attention to detail can take your butterfly wall art project to new elevations.

Leave some of the waste material.
It will be easier to cut the bevel later on if you leave some waste wood on the straight “body edge” of the wings.

It was also an intentional decision to not butt the straight edge of the wings against the factory edge of the board. The extra material will help to support the jig saw when we make the bevel cut later on.

Winging It With The R8832 Ridgid 18V Octane Jig Saw

The Ridgid 18V Octane jig saw.
The Ridgid 18V Octane jig saw.

Before we spread our wings, let’s take a look at the first star of this show: the Ridgid R8832 jig saw. This cordless tool had no problem cutting through 1-1/2” thick pressure treated wood when we showed how to make a wooden picnic bench table. So it could obviously “fly” through this wood like “butter”.

Some of its features include:

* Brushless 18V motor for longer run time per charge. No brushes to replace. Ever!

Orbital cutting action
Adjustable orbital action makes for faster cutting and less heat buildup by preventing the blade from rubbing the cutting edge on the down stroke and by changing the angle of attack. Adjust this knob for more aggressive action (faster cutting with a rougher finish).

* Variable speed trigger with variable max speed dial.

* Tool-free blade clamp. You have no idea how nice this is if you’ve never used one!

Tool-free angle adjustment
Tool-free base adjustment makes bevel cutting a breeze. Shoe tilts up to 45° in either direction.

* Compatible with both “T” and “U” shank blades.

* Trigger lock.

* “Line start” setting starts the blade slower and increases to full speed after you’ve engaged the cut.

* Blower port keeps your cut line clear of saw dust.

* Dust collection attachment. When you hook up a portable vacuum, this does a wonderful job at preventing fine dust from filling the air! But don’t expect it eliminate the larger, grainy saw dust.

Blade support guide bearing
Blade support bearing greatly reduces blade deflection.

* LED light illuminates your cut line.

* Compatible with all Ridgid 18V batteries. Get best performance with 18V Octane batteries.

Now Let’s Clip These Wings! – Ridgid 18V Octane jig saw

Ridgid R8832 18V Octane jig saw
First cut on the lines you drew so that you don’t cut away the material at the body side of the wings.

It’s pretty easy to follow a straight line with the R8832 jig saw. But being a jig saw, it really excels at cutting curves. For tighter curves, get yourself a scrolling blade, like the narrow one in this assortment. I made all of my cuts using the blade that came with the saw.

Cutting wings with the Ridgid R8832 jig saw.
Cutting the curves of the wings.

The included blade is a bit wide for tight curves. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be used. When cutting curves that your blade can’t quite follow, make a little extra clearance by backing off a bit and nibbling away some material from the waste side of your cut line; no problem! If you’re having trouble making clean curves, it’s OK to leave a small amount of material on the waste side. You can clean it up later.

Butterfly wings
Here’s what the wings looked like after I cut them out. The actual size and shape of the remaining waste material is arbitrary. Just try to leave enough to help support the jig saw later on.

Bug’s Body – Neither Hare Nor Hide

Body image
Body patterns ready to be cut to shape.

To give your butterfly more character and dimension, use thicker material for the body. I used 1-1/16” frakenpine (my word for wood – probably soft maple in this case – made up of short scrap segments finger jointed end to end).

Ridgid R8832 jig saw
Only this one butterfly body has inside points like this. I went ahead and cut those first, then the outside curves.
Ridgid R8832 jig saw
The R8832 jig saw’s LED looks a lot more blinding in the photo than in real life. Though I do wish there was a way to turn it off when it’s not needed.

Angle The Saw Base For The Final Cuts – Ridgid 18V Octane Jig Saw

Tilt for bevel cutting.
Tilt the shoe of the saw about 10° or so.

Angle the base of the jig saw to make the “body line” cuts on the wings. I just eyeballed it and made a test cut to see how the angle looks in relation to the butterfly body. Somewhere in the range of 8-10° worked out nicely for me.

Test cut
Before committing to an angle, make a test cut on scrap material.

When you’re happy with the angle, cut away the remaining material from both wings. Make sure to orient the bevel so that the wings tilt forward!

Bevel cutting with the Ridgid 18V Octane jig saw.
With the pattern side UP, cut so that the bottom of the blade angles AWAY from the wing.

Oops! Without The Dust Attachment In Place, Butter Wasn’t The Only Thing Flying!

I cut the wing shapes outside, where flying dust wasn’t really an issue; I just stayed upwind. But then it started to rain so I moved indoors (and put on a dust mask). While cutting the bodies, I noticed that a ton of dust was being thrown into the air and wished that wasn’t the case. And it didn’t have to be, as you’ll see.

Honestly, I’d completely forgotten that the saw came with a dust attachment. I’ve had several jig saws over the years but none had that feature. It wasn’t until I was done cutting that I realized my folly. Ugh!

Ridgid R8832 dust collection.
When I finally hooked up the dust collection attachment, the air no longer billowed with dust. What an HUGE, immediately noticeable difference! I still had to sweep up the coarse, granular crumbs, but it was no longer creating a cloud of fine airborne particles.

So to give it a fair evaluation, I slipped in the dust collection port, hooked up a vacuum (actually, a small portable vac, not the one visible in the background) and made a half dozen or more proper test cuts. The difference was night and day! It virtually eliminated the fine particles that coat everything in the shop.

Ridgid 18V Octane 1/4 Sheet Sander – One Smooth Operator

Ridgid 1/4 sheet sander
Ridgid model R86064 brushless sander. Eliminating the need for elbow grease.

The R8832 jig saw ruled as monarch during the first act of this butterfly wall art show. But now it’s time for the 1/4 sheet sander to emerge from its chrysalis.

First, let’s go over some of its features.

* High efficiency brushless motor.

* Orbital sanding action (makes a 1/16” orbit).

* 14,000 orbits per minute.

* 3 speeds.

* Power and speed switches are shielded from dust by a rubber membrane.

Ridgid R86064 18V Octane sander
The dust collection bags locks in place and collects up to 90% of the sanding dust.

* Built-in dust port works with included collection bag or 1-1/4”, 1-7/8” or 2-1/2” vacuum hoses.

Hose adaptor
The dust bag works really well, but a vacuum works even better. I had good luck connecting the two smaller hose sizes. Unfortunately, when I used the included 2-1/2” hose adapter, it pulled right off every time the hose moved.

* Works with all Ridgid 18V batteries. Use an 18V Octane battery for best performance.

* Quick, easy paper replacement.

Ridgid 1/4 Sheet Sander – A Real Paper Pusher

1/4 sheet sander
It’s called a “1/4 sheet sander” because it uses a fourth of a standard sheet of sandpaper.

For me, the Ridgid sander’s most welcome feature is the included hole punch. I’m used to using a random orbital sander. And part of using it is having to buy special pre-punched sanding discs. In contrast, the Ridgid R86064 ¼ sheet sander does come with a couple pre-punched sanding sheets, but it also includes a punch plate so that you can use ANY sheet of sandpaper.

Using standard sandpaper.
With regular sandpaper, first load it into the holding clamps.

Without the holes, the dust collection won’t work, the paper will clog and dull a lot faster and the sanding dust will be burnished into your workpiece.

Punching the holes.
Press the sander down onto the punch plate.
Ready for sanding.
And now your paper has holes that line up perfectly with those in the sanding pad. Granted, they aren’t as large as the holes in the pre-punched paper, so it doesn’t work quite as well. But it still does an admirable job if you keep the sander moving (which you should do anyway).

Migrating Back To Our Project – How to Make Wooden Butterfly Wall Art

Sanding with the Ridgid R86064 1/4 sheet sander.
One thing 1/4 sheet sanders do really well is smoothing flat surfaces.

OK, so now we need to do a little smoothing and shaping. Begin by sanding the fronts and backs of the wings. Sanders tend to be somewhat limited in what they can do. A ¼ sheet sander, for example, is fantastic at smoothing and keeping flat surfaces flat. But it isn’t as well suited for use on curves and narrow edges.

Edge sanding
For most edges and curves, a popular workshop favorite, the Ridgid EB4424 oscillating belt/spindle sander, is an excellent choice. Be sure not to sand away the angled “body edge” of the wings!

For the rest of the our shaping and sanding, we turn to other tools. I fired up some of the other power sanders in the shop and used a file on a couple tighter inside curves the machines couldn’t reach.

Sanding inside curves.
Install a sanding drum or use the end of the belt to smooth the inside curves.

The Butterfly Effect – These Wooden Wingers Are Really Shaping Up!

Disc sander
For small outside radii, nothing beats a disc sander or vertical belt sander.

Just a little more sanding and shaping to go. If you don’t have the luxury of assorted power sanders, files and hand sanding can get the job done just as well. It will just take you longer.

Shaping with a vertical belt sander.
I used my vertical belt sander to round over the tops of the bodies.
Bug bodies
Shape and contour the front face of the butterfly body but leave the back flat.

After sanding and shaping, I routed a chamfer on the fronts and backs of the wings (save for the “body edge”). On one butterfly, I also chamfered the front of the “body edge” to flow better with the shape of the body. Either way, leave the back of that edge untouched.

Chamfering what the router missed.
Use a knife or chisel to chamfer tight areas that the router bit can’t reach.

Not only does the chamfer give the wings a more organic look, it also makes them appear thinner than they actually are.

Shaped and sanded
Shaped and sanded bodies and wings.

Let’s Beautify These Butterflies – Decorating Your Wooden Butterfly Wall Art

Painted lady? No.
I’ve only done “artistic” painting a few times now, starting with that layered fireplace project from early 2017. I’m definitely no painter, but I am happy with how these turned out.

You can decorate your butterfly any way you’d like, if you’d like. But don’t apply a clear coat until after the wings are glued to the bodies. I chose to paint mine with acrylics. I photographed some of the butterflies on our couch pillows and printed them out to use as references. Artistic license was still in play but – like diurnal butterflies – at least I wasn’t flying in total darkness.

Wooden butterfly
Meh. I could have done better but I’ll take it. The backs of all pieces are painted black.

Get Great Reception With These Antennae – No Foil Or Arm Waving Required

Drilling for antennae
Drill the heads and wooden balls to accept the wire.

Before gluing the parts together, I got some 1/2” wood balls from the local craft store and cut pieces of wire to mount them to. Then I drilled holes in the balls and butterfly heads to accept the antenna wires.

"Antenna wire"
This aluminum wire has a nice curve already but I straightened it a bit to get the arc I wanted.
Painting butterfly balls
Pro-Tip: Twist ties were used to hold the balls as I painted them. The plastic coating grips the inside of the hole enough that I could paint without worry of dropping the ball.
Not moth balls, butterfly balls.
They also make nice holders while the paint dries.

Left Wing, Right Wing – Can’t We Just Meet In The Middle?

Drilling pocket holes.
Drilling a pocket hole on the back of the wing.

We’ve finally reached the point where we can assemble the butterflies. The wings can be glued on with any wood glue. I used Titebond Quick & Thick because it tacks up quickly and doesn’t run or drip. Home Depot only had these in 12 packs, so you may need to hunt elsewhere unless you need a LOT of glue.

Staggered holes
To prevent the body from splitting, be sure to stagger your pocket holes. And before gluing, first establish the screw locations in the body by driving them a little at a time and backing them out several times along the way to clear the holes and screw tips of debris.

I used pocket screws to speed up the assembly process even more. You can skip the pocket screws if you’d like. But you’ll have to be creative with your clamping until the glue sets up. If your butterfly isn’t large enough, you may have to skip the screws anyway.

Attaching the wooden butterfly wings.
Put a thin layer of glue on the wing and stick it to the body. If using pocket screws, have the tip already peeking through the wing to aid in alignment.
First one assembled.
First one down! The pocket screws made assembly quick and easy.

How Do Butterflies Get A Clear Signal While Flying? They Have Aerial Antennas

Clear coating
Once the glue has cured, give your butterfly and antenna balls a few clear coats (I used spray lacquer).

Use cyanoacrylate glue (“super glue”) to fasten the wooden balls to the wires and the wires to the butterfly.

Assembled antennae.

To Be A (Butter)Fly On The Wall – Ridgid 18V Octane Jig Saw & ¼ Sheet Sander

Hanging wire
I used a pair of small eye screws and some picture hanging wire. There’s enough slack to let me tweak the hanging angle.

Finally, attach hardware to the back so you can hang your butterfly on the wall. I set both of mine up to hang at a slight angle, in towards each other.

Reverse orientation
The other butterfly is set up to tilt the other direction.

Take Flight, Oh Winged One!

Completed wooden butterfly wall art.
I love how the sweeping curves make this one appear even more dynamic.

I’ve noticed a lot more butterflies flitting around the yard while building this project over the past week. Could it be that they’re interested in checking out Ridgid’s 18V lineup? Or maybe they’ve mistaken these art pieces for the moth(er)ship, or even their sovereign ruler. Or perhaps it’s because fall has alighted upon us and it’s all just a happy coincidence.

Ridgid butterflies
I used the same Octane 6AH battery on both tools and neither the saw nor the sander drained it enough that it needed a recharge during the project. All in all, I’m thrilled with the tools and the project!

Get the Ridgid 18V Octane jig saw for just under $130

Buy Now - via The Home Depot

Get the Ridgid 18V Octane ¼ sheet sander for just under $70

Buy Now - via The Home Depot

A 5-pk. of Bosch T119BO jig saw scroll blades can be had for $6

Buy Now - via The Home Depot

Get a jig saw blade assortment (includes the Bosch T119BO scrolling blade and others) for under $15

Buy Now - via The Home Depot

Get the Ridgid oscillating belt/spindle sander for just under $250

Buy Now - via The Home Depot

Titebond Quick & Thick wood glue for $48 (For a 12 pack)!

Buy Now - via The Home Depot

I acknowledge that The Home Depot is partnering with Home Fixated in sponsored content. As a part of the sponsorship, Home Fixated is receiving compensation for the purpose of promoting The Home Depot. All expressed opinions and experiences are our own words. This post complies with the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Ethics Code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.

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About Steve

Steve made his first woodworking project at age 9 (in 1982) and whittled his first wooden chain at 18. He was also a consumer electronics repair tech and shop owner for a little over 20 years, until his impending obsolescence became impossible to ignore. Since then, Steve has focused passionately on manipulating his wood... in his workshop. Don't judge him.

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