This project is an exploration into form and workflows - a combination
of using manual hand skills, computer aided design (CAD), and digital fabrication techniques - to create a sculptural and functional bench made from stacked and carved plywood.
In Part 3 - Fabrication, I'll cover how to cut out, assemble, and carve the full scale bench.
Once the design was modified and finalized, I scaled the mesh model to 1:1, figured out the material thickness, and sliced the parts in 123D Make. I sourced high quality Baltic Birch plywood that is 3/4" thick. The final bench will be 8 feet long and after nesting the parts, it will take 9 sheets of plywood to fabricate. The steps for exporting the 2D layouts is identical to Part 2 above.
- Water jet cut the plywood parts.
- Use a vacuum bag to glue them into sections
- Assemble smaller parts into a single solid form.
- Use handheld grinders to carve it into a smooth surface.
Here at Pier 9, we've got an OMAX 5-axis waterjet. She's a beast - clean cuts through metal, wood, glass, tile, felt, you name it, with a very small kerf, and none of the work-holding problems that come with a rotary cutter - the water jet is by far the most popular tool in the workshop.
I repeated the steps from slicing and exporting 2D layouts from Part 2, except at full scale, and ended up with 9 full 4' x 8' sheets of parts, which I cut out on the OMAX water jet cutter. These layouts first need to be brought into the OMAX Layout software to create toolpaths in order to run the machine. One must take the 4 hour OMAX orientation class with Martin at Pier 9 to run the machine. For detailed instructions about creating tool paths and running the OMAX, check out Paige's lovely Instructable about how to set up and run the OMAX. Here are a couple tips:
- OMAX Layout software doesn't understand splines, so the 2D layout has to be saved in the earliest version of Illustrator to be imported into OMAX Layout.
- Use Quality setting 5 - faster cuts means your plywood sits in water for less time. The edges don't need to be super clean anyways.
- The Score setting still cuts really deep in plywood, so I deleted all the red labels from the Make layouts, left only the CUT outlines, and just wrote part numbers directly on the parts after they were cut out.