The thin blue line flag represents Police Officers and the courage they have to respond to impossible situations most people don’t want to think about. The black background represents the officers that have fallen. The blue stripe indicates the separation between civil society and chaos. Any officer would be proud to display such a flag.
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Building one of your own as a gift is easier than you think.
How to make a thin blue line flag
I made this wooden thin blue line flag in just a couple of hours, minus glue time. I started by going to my local Lowes and selected a simple 1x8x6′ pine board. They actually measure 3/4 in. thick, which is perfect to start with and it’s cheap. I typically don’t like working with pine because they don’t take stain evenly and they are terrible for warping.
1. Cutting Your Stripes
- Start by cutting 13 strips of wood 1 3/8″ x 30 1/2″. The final piece will measure 16 1/4″ x 30″. After you cut the pieces to 1 3/8″ you are going to cut them down to 1 1/4″ taking a 1/16″ off on each side. The reason for this is when you cut a thick piece of wood into smaller pieces the wood has tension. You might notice that as you cut the wood, the cut portion will squeeze together after it runs through the saw blade. Once you cut it you relieve the tension. When you cut just the edge of the wood the saw blade does not have to work as hard and you get a better finished piece. Leave the length at 30 1/2″, I’ll explain this later.
Since we are joining 13 strips of wood together I like using wood biscuits. You can see what a wood biscuit is here. You will need a biscuit cutter to install these. I have a DeWalt biscuit cutter and use it often. It really only has one job but it does it well. You can find it here.
- Before you can cut the biscuits in you need to line up the 13 pieces of wood and put lines so you can accurately cut matching biscuit slots in adjoined strips. I put 5 biscuit between each strip, yes that’s 60 biscuits but this will make the flag strong. Glue each biscuit in on both strips of wood. Only glue 6 and 7 strips together at a time. This allows you to clamp the glued pieces tight together and keep them flat. I place the strips together before I glue and before placing any biscuits to see how each edge lines up and then I number each strip 1-13. This way when I glue them together I can still easily see the order they are going to go together.
3. Run the two boards through the planer
- Once you have strips glued together you should have 2 separate boards. Now I run these through the planer. My planer only has a 13″ cutting area so gluing them all together at once will not allow me to run it through the planer. You will likely have drips of glue that squished out between the pieces. Just run a flat edge of a square and knock the excess glue off. Running the pieces through planer will ensure each board is flat and fresh looking. Pay attention to front and back of each board. If you run one through the planer face up and the other face down you will change the biscuit alignment.
- Now glue the boards together to make one solid board. After this is done, take a large square and mark the side edges to be cut to 30″. You should be taking about 1/4″ off of each side. Sand the piece and you are ready to burn the stripes in.
5. Burn the stripes
- I used blue painters tape to cover the stripes I don’t want burned. This worked, okay, but the torch heated up the adhesive on the tape and made it hard to remove. On other Thin Blue Line Flags I’ve use a metal yard stick to cover the area I don’t want burned. This worked out much better and is how I do it ever time now. Once you’ve burnt in the stripes and the union you are ready to paint the blue stripe.
- I have a friend that has a vinyl cutter and had him cut a negative of the 50 stars and the message, “Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God”. I used the negative of the cutout and painted the stars and message with white paint. On one flag I used my DIY Wood CNC Machine and cut the area around the stars to make them stick up. I then carved the message.
Long journey but really, look at such a special thing you created. Below is a list of materials and tools needed.
You will need:
- 1 – 1x8x60″ pine board
- 60 wood biscuits
- wood glue
- Some way to paint the stars and message, I use a vinyl cutout and lay it over the wood and paint the letters. Then remove the vinyl.
-Follow this link for my review of the best woodworking tools -2019
- Table saw
- Thickness Planer, you can make due without one with a lot of sanding
- Biscuit Cutter
Final optional touches
I used a Keyhole bit with my palm router to cut two slots in the back to hang it on my wall. You can use a simple picture hanger or a piece of small cable to hang it as well. I’ve seen flags that were made from two pieces of wood put together instead of one strip for each stripe. I like the separate stripes because it changes the wood grain and gives it a deeper look. Also, like I mentioned earlier your board won’t warp down the road. If you find the board did warp, burn the back side. Sometimes the heat tightens the grain and causes the warp. Heating the back side will reverse this.
You can make one
Don’t be afraid you won’t be able to make this. Who cares if it takes a couple of days. The first one I made took me a few days because I was figuring it out as I went. If you make this for yourself, for a friend or to sell your hard work will pay off in the end.
Please shoot me an email with questions if you get stuck or for anything else. Thank you for taking the time to look at this article.