Fire Hose Cross Options and Finishes
Probably my favorite classic look to a fire hose cross is an Alder wood cross with a simple medium tone stain. I think that is because I love the look of alder wood. I like the grain and the knots of it. It accepts stain very easily and I like that it is somewhere between hard and softwood. No matter what home or room it goes into, I feel that it will just be able to match the decor in the recipient’s home. Whenever I am making a fire hose cross, I like the finish to be a representation of their career. I like the finish to look like it has been through as many trials as you would typically find on an old head’s helmet. If it is a stained finish, I like to sand some of it off before I poly the cross and add the hose.
Mostly, my budget requires that I use pine boards or common boards which are ‘white wood’ boards so they can be a variety of wood in that tones. Both of these types of boards are soft. So if anything impacts the surface, it will make a mark. I have long decided to embrace that feature. Sometimes, I will purposefully add more marks to the surface with a hammer or even strike the wood with a chain. Sometimes, I will stain these boards but more often I paint the wood. If it is a painted finish. I like to remove part of it and then add a coat of stain over the whole cross so that it darkens the paint (for example, the red distressed painted cross once stained looks like a red helmet that has seen plenty of fire and heat in its day). The color really stands out and I love it when I can get the finish to even better represent the long and respected career of that firefighter. Sometimes the paint color may represent their helmet color, sometimes it is just is painted a color to coordinate with the hose that I have available to me and clean. When I have a clean yellow hose, I prefer a stained or a painted black finish. When I have a clean white hose, I prefer a red painted finish.
The painted cross is my favorite to use for funerals. I know I am talking sad stuff, but when possible, I do try to make firehose crosses for funerals. I simply can’t make them for all of the firefighter’s funerals I know because I was blessed to work for a large metroplex fire department. Also because I worked there for 30 years, I know a lot of them personally. These last 2 years have been hard to determine where my line in the sand is for who I make one for and who I don’t. Our department and surrounding departments have had many members with medical needs or have experienced a devastating loss. Lately, I have been focusing my energy, time, and personal expenses on active members even though now I am a retired member.
I started making firehose items for firefighter charity events about 8 years ago. A few years into making firehose USA and Texas flags and a few wine racks, the inspiration hit me to try to customize a cross with firehose. Up until that point, I had not seen any firehose crosses on youtube, Etsy, or Pinterest. So I like to think that I was the originator of that idea. Who actually knows. I will say that I have been making them for about 5-6 years and the first one I made that I donated to the Firefighter Ball did so well, that I had 3 lovely ladies coming to me after to see if I would make one for them. I really didn’t want to get in the business of selling my wares because if I did, the items wouldn’t make the astronomical amount that they make at charity events. So I told them a price and said that my heart had been wanting to bless a firefighter widow who had young sons and whose husband was not vested and she was left with mounds of medical bills. So 100% of everything they paid would be sent to her to do whatever she wanted to with it. I paid for all the materials for their crosses and these ladies made it possible for a mom to have a little more money to treat her kids to dinner out on a tough night or to just pay a bill. I would call that the love of the Fire Department Family all coming together to make something happen.
For the first few years, I would sell an occasional demo firehose cross in hopes of paying for materials for another cross to be donated. But I no longer do this because I really feel like I don’t have time to make any extra crosses and every cross that I do make has an intended purpose. I have passed my knowledge on to two other firefighters on how I make my firehose crosses. Please stay tuned and I am sure I will blog about it soon enough. After all, knowledge should be shared just like we do so well at sharing firefighting knowledge at the fire station.
Thank you for following my blog and stay safe,
The Mother Trucker