Picture of Make an MC Escher Reptiles table
I had some redwood fence boards sitting around, so I figured I'd start cutting some large versions of my Escher Reptiles.   Only later did I realize they'd make a pretty cool table.  I cut 6 semicircular segments, and I was off to the races.

  • access to a CNC Router, laser cutter, waterjet cutter, or whatever will cut your material.  Or a scroll saw and a ton of skill and patience.
  • Wood.  I used some super cheapo redwood fece material.  5.5" x 3/4" x 6'.  Use whatever you want.  This can be adapted. 
  • 2' x '2' x 1/2" plywood square as a base.
  • 1 Quart Glaze Coat, from Lowes
  • Bondo for smoothing out the sides and bottom
  • 3 Paint colors (I used gray, gray and gray)
  • glue to hold the puzzle pieces down to the plywood base.
Inspiration (giving credit where credit is due...)
  • M.C. Escher of course.
  • buildyourcnc.com.  This guy's videos inspired me to build my own CNC.   If he can build a CNC in his living room & bathroom, I figured i can build one in my garage.  The design used in the tutorial video's isn't great (not very stiff), but it's what I built, and it works.  Looks like the ones he sells are much better designed than the DIY one shown in the tutorial videos.
  • Penny Desk.  

Step 1: Cut your Reptiles! Paint them too.

Using the attached 'lizard-large.dxf' you can cut out your own escher reptiles.  I do it in 2 steps:

Open the .DXF file, and you'll see both and outline, and a bunch of internal lines.  I do the engraving both on the internal lines, and the outline.  I do it with a 90-degree V router bit.  After then engraving, you can cut out the reptile with up to a 1/4" diameter router bit.  A larger bit won't cut the internal radii right.

Then, I let my kids paint them however they like.  Obviously, if you're using really nice wood, you'll want to skip the painting and staining steps...  This would look great with 3 types of hardwood, I'm sure.  Maybe I'll try that next.
frugalguy2 years ago
I think what you did is to glue the 3/4" tiles to a piece of 3/4" plywood, and circled just the top layer with 3/4" arcs. Right? That left a 3/4" layer below that you had to deal with using bondo and black paint.

What about this... Make the tiles from 1/2" material (run the 3/4" through a planer). Glue them to a 1/4" plywood base. Using the CNC route a 1/4" x 1" rabbet on the bottom inside edge of the arc pieces, forming a 1-inch cavity you can glue the plywood base to. This way, the final thickness is still 3/4", the tiles have a good base, but the base isn't visible from the side--it's flush with the arcs, but inset from the table edge. You might try that when you do another with nice hardwood. Glue the tiles to a 1/4" plywood base. Using 1/2" tiles  I've attempted to attach a small cross-section to show the idea. The plywood base extends 1" beyond the tiles, and the arcs slip down over this.
ccrome (author)  frugalguy2 years ago
Nice idea -- that would look much nicer, and be thinner overall. As-is, it's really clunky and thick. If I were to do it again, I think I would follow your tip, but NOT glue the tiles down :-) Now that I joined TechShop I have access to so many good tools.

I think what I'd do is this: make the tiles from maybe even 1/4" wood (could that stay flat & stable over time?) I'd run everything through the jointer & planer to get very precise thicknesses. I'd use your idea of rabbeting the underside of the arcs to get a nice finish. Then, when all is said and done, it would be a tabletop/puzzle.
That sounds fun! Glad to hear you've joined TechShop. I'm a member at the RDU shop in Raleigh, NC myself.

I showed this to my wife to see if she'd like one. She pointed out that there are quite a number of different Escher tile patterns, and chose a different one that she thinks would look really good with some exotic woods (but wouldn't make such a cool puzzle, though).

This pic is from http://www.precisionstrobe.com/jc/eschertiles/eschertiles.html
bbelova353 years ago
Круто придумано!Я бы такой столик в зале поставила.
ccrome (author)  bbelova353 years ago
Google translate says this means, "Cool Idea! I have a table in the hall set."

Not exactly sure what it means, but it sure appears to be a complement :-)

Thanks -Caleb
Wow very nice work!
That brilliant! It turned out beautifully. :D
ccrome (author)  jessyratfink3 years ago
Heh, thanks. I think I might make something similar from real hardwood, or at least nice hardwood veneer plywood. That should look even more awesomer.

Ez-Kabob3 years ago
This is really neat!