To build this beautiful fruit bowl you'll need
- a sheet birch plywood 300 mm x 400 mm / 12" x 16"
- a desktop cnc machine with at least 300 mm x 200 mm / 12" x 8" of travel or a laser cutter
- wood oil for finishing
The software for creating the file is free, but you need to be able to create g-code for your cnc and drive the cnc (obviously).
Step 1: 3D Modeling the Bowl
I downloaded 123D Design from Autodesk, which is an easy to use 3D modeling software. Next I designed the basic shape for my bowl by intersecting two spheres. I cut off a little of the bottom to give the bowl a flat spot to stand on. To get a nice rim I rounded off the edge. I proceeded by exported the model as a stl file.
Step 2: Creating the Slices
I then used 123D Make to create slices. This application is provided by Autodesk as well and you can download it for free. In order to create parts that you can manufacture on a cnc machine or a laser cutter you can choose between different modes:
- Stacked slices
- Interlocking slices
- Curve(d slices)
- Radial Slices
- 3D Slices
It's really fun to experiment with different modes, but it takes some time to get to an usable output. For my bowl I used the "Curve"-Mode, which allows you to "bend" your slices according to the form.
When I was happy with the result I outputted EPS files. The recent version can nest the parts, but I preferred to nest them myself.
Step 3: Nesting the Parts
I opened the EPS files in Illustrator and nested them carefully. As I was about to mill the parts on my desktop cnc machine I had to consider the tool diameter in terms of distance between parts. Luckily all parts did fit on one sheet of plywood with the maximum size of my machine bed (300 mm x 400 mm / 12" x 16").
Step 4: Milling, Sanding and Gluing the Parts
I went over to the CAM software. For creating the tool path I use Estlcam. It's an affordable piece of software from a German programmer. Best of all: it's super easy to use and you get things done fast. You import a dxf, determine the tool diameter and let the software automatically define the parts.
My material is 6.5 mm / 1/4" baltic birch plywood. Suitable for my machine size I bought pre-cut boards by a local wood dealer. I really prefer a specialized dealer over the classic home improvement store as you get substantiated advice and as you pay only the square centimeters you need it's even cheaper.
I cut the parts with a spiraltoothed 1.2 mm cutter and sanded them on a spindle sander. The I glued all the parts up. Common wood glue is perfect for this. When everything was set, I finished the bowl with oil. This intensifies the wood structure and makes it more resistant against moisture.
Step 5: Create Your Own!
If you own a desktop cnc or a laser cutter or can use one at a fab lab nearby, grab the dxf, svg or pdf and create a fruit bowl your own. The design is optimized for a small size machine with 12" x 16", but you could even use a smaller machine. Or you can download the stl of the bowl and play around with 123D Make.
Visit ZenziWerken for more interesting design ideas to be used with a cnc or laser cutter.