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- How should I cut out the slingshot in relation to the grain for strength?
I can't see all the grain in your board but it looks like the middle section has straight grain. You want straight grain for your frame rather than the circles in the grain. Think of a baseball bat and weak spot on the open grain.

- What kind of cutting/sanding tools would you recommend?
Cheap way = coping saw, sand paper, rat tail file
Medium price - Jig saw, Dremel tool, drum sander on drill, sand paper rat tail file
High price = Band saw, spindle sander, router, Dremel tool

- Should I oven/fire harden the slingshot after I've shaped it? If so, at what temperature, for how long, etc?
The board is already dry. No need to oven dry it.

- What would you recommend for coating?
I'm currently using Spar Urethane but I like Danish Oil too.

- If anyone has experience with red oak, how has it held up?
I have a few frame made from red oak. It works great.

- Unrelated to board-cuts, what kind of wood should I be looking for as far as natural forks go?
I don't do naturals yet... but I hope to soon.

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