Greensboro Martial Arts Academy Diorama
Sometime around the year 2000, while we were living in Fairfield, Ohio, our daughter, Sally
(age 14 then), made
a diorama of a Tae Kwon Do martial arts dojo that was inspired by the school she and her brother, Philip,
were attending at the time. The characters are made of colored felt, and the big wall mirror is a piece of tinfoil.
You can see the water-filled kicking practice bag, a re-breakable board, a sai, and a kicking paddle.
At one time there might have been a bo staff, but it was long gone by the time this case was made.
Unbeknownst to Sally, Melanie and I had kept the diorama in a cardboard box for lo these many years.
We decided to make a nice wood and Plexiglas display case for it and present it to her for her birthday.
A metal base was made from a piece of sheet metal I had on-hand, and the case is made from some
walnut given to me by a friend. Korean, Chinese, and Japanese versions of "Greensboro Martial Arts Academy"
(GMAA) and a few decorative flourishes were woodburned into the edges.
As you might expect, she was completely surprised and delighted by the gift.
GMAA diorama case frame and base
Wood frame components ready to assemble
Melanie carefully woodburning patterns on the walnut
My Craftsman radial arm saw, bandsaw, jointer/planer, belt/disc sander, and drill press were the
main power tools used for construction. A 1/2" x 1" strip of walnut was cut on the radial arm saw
and planed smooth on the jointer/plane, then sanded smooth prior to cutting and shaping grooves and
corners. In order to ensure ruggedness, all the corners are glued and pinned with 1/8" diameter oak dowels. The
light color of the oak provides a nice contrast to the darker walnut. Corner pieces have a triangular
cross-section in order to have minimal protrusion into the inner space.
Rabbet channels were cut into
the inside edges to receive 1/16" Plexiglas panes on the top and four sides. A 20 ga steel sheet was
bent and drilled for supporting the diorama floor and wall, and holes drilled for screwing it to the
Korean, Chinese, and Japanese versions of "Greensboro Martial Arts Academy" were gotten from the
translator on Google. After translating from English to each language, the result was fed back into
the translator for conversion into English just to make sure the translations were accurate, and
they were. After scaling the text and the decorative patterns to fit the frame sides, a printout was made
on the ink jet printer. Transfers to the walnut was done using carbon paper. Melanie spent about six
hours total with the wood burning tool to accurately reproduce the very tiny lines in the Asian characters
and the slightly less demanding English characters. Four coats of sprayed
semi-gloss Minwax acrylic were applied to the frame (no stain applied). Sanding with 320 grit paper was done between coats
of lacquer. Plexiglas panels were cut with a utility knife and glued in place with silicone. The
metal base it held on with a couple #4 flat head wood screws.
has earned a first-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a third-degree black belt in SanShinKai karate,
and a third degree black belt in KinKou Ryu karate, started the "Greensboro Martial Arts Academy"
(GMAA) in 2012 and has grown it to where it has the largest studio area of any martial arts school in
Greensboro. She also founded and runs the
Equine Kingdom Riding
Academy in 2009.
A few additional photos of the diorama are shown below.
Posted November 23, 2016
Other Woodworking Tips & Projects: