The Declaration of Independence


The Declaration of Independence

issues-ssw17-IndependenceCarving-1Every So Often You Come Across a Piece that Makes Your Jaw Drop

March 19, 1996 was a proud day for Bill Thurlow. After more than 580 hours over a span of eight years, Bill had completed his replication in wood of the Declaration of Independence. Since then, the piece—four times the size of the original document—has received a great deal of attention and admiration from thousands in the nation.

Bill wanted to draw attention to the Declaration of Independence by recreating it using the scroll saw. “The Declaration of Independence is one of the most important documents we have. It’s the birth certificate of the United States, and I wanted people to read it,” he said.

The stunning results show that scrolling is an art form in every sense. To accomplish this brilliant replication, Bill photocopied the Declaration of Independence and enlarged it four times. He then glued the paper enlargement to ½” maple, cut each of the 1,356 words—as well as hundreds of punctuation marks—exactly as they were written and then sanded the paper off of each piece. For the 4,316 letters like “o” and “a” with inside holes, Bill drilled through the center of the letters before cutting the wood.

Bill did all of his work on a Hegner scroll saw, and used 763 saw blades for the Declaration of Independence. When asked how difficult the project was, Bill said that it was incredibly hard, but he enjoyed the scrolling process and is especially happy with the end result. “It’s all worth it,” he said.

In March, Bill’s work was exhibited at the Ramona Country Carvers 25th annual woodcarving show. “It created such a stir among the almost 2000 people that came through our show. There was a crowd around it almost the entire show,” said Ramona Country Carver Duane Laxen. “It’s as good—if not better—than any best of show I’ve seen in past years.”

The piece was also a highlight at the California-Hawaii Elks Association Convention in Ontario in May. When the piece is not on display, it resides in Bill’s home, and will not be for sale. “No amount of money could buy that,” Bill said.

Remarkably, the Declaration of Independence was one of Bill’s early scrolling projects. Most of Bill’s prior scrolling experience occurred while working on the law enforcement code of ethics—his first scrolling project.

Bill’s most recent scrolling accomplishment is the Gettysburg Address. Replicated at the original size that Abraham Lincoln wrote it (17 1/2” x 13”), Bill’s Gettysburg Address was done using the smallest blade and took about nine months to complete.