Cnc Wood Sculpture // Floor Lamp




This is an entry level skills to cut with CNC something more exciting ! In the lecture you will learn some tips to cut it yourself and how to design similar stuff by yourself. My challenge is to show you how i came up with the idea, how i got it out of my head, how i think every step to finish the product. I called WALTER LAMP - In honor to my grandpa, today is his birthday! - but it can be only an Sculpture without the light!


CNC - 1/4'' router bit - 1/4 sheet of plywood (4 sets = 1 plywood)

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Step 1: First Ideas - Design Process

My first sketches began with the idea to turn an noble and robust material like wood into something fluid and innovative. The design should be asymmetric so it could become something that looks different from different angles, as it can also be grouped into two units combined together -one upside down- looking totally different.

Step 2: 3d Modeling and Rendering

In the 3d modeling i came up with some other ideas. The curves will be asymmetric as the height where they are located and the fluid form between ribs are a simple revolution. A central point of light will be the curve generator, it seems like an explosion of light. Here i helped myself with Rhinoceros 3d modeling. In youtube you can search about 3 super simple commands to do it:

CONTROL POINT CURVE -- this is for generating the main curve.

EXTRUDE -- this is for generate a plane from curve and a 3d form with thickness from a surface. U have to extrude the main curve in 2 directions. (X rib size -Y wood thinckness)

POLAR ARRAY -- this is for the revolution. U have to choose the 3d form and choose the center of the revolution then the number of items that u want to revolve. The assymetric form i gave it with the cuts later.

Then i continued with some rendering to see how the object would be in a room, in a corner and even with a light inside. The first model was off 20 ribs and 9mm sheet thinckness but then i changed to 12 ribs of 18mm plywood.

Step 3: Cnc Cut Preparation - Strategies

Here's the fun part. In all of my designs I think about the technical parts. How will it be produced, materials, fabrication, time, .... In this lamps I have made the cuts on 1/4 sheet of plywood (only the ribs and unions - no base). The 122x244 size is divided by half in both ways so it fits 4 lamps in one sheet !

The secret is to match the sides of the cuts between pieces. Its fast to cut too because it reduces material and cutting time. In the pictures and files you will see it with clarity. If you want to design something with linear ribs, my advise is you do this step. Laser cutting and cnc are similar tools that you have to know this strategy to save material and time.

Also you need to OFFSET the cutting line with your ROUTER BIT DIAMETER (Ø1/4'' in my case). This shows you how the bit will mill the wood. In the second image you can see that the inner cuts overlaps with the last outter cut. This is fine because the last cut will pass where the wood is already cutted.

I put the link to download the .3dm rhino file so you can see the 3d and 2d drawings.

Step 4: Cutting With MakerMade CNC

I love this machine ! The MakerMade cnc is an awesome tool for this kind of projects. My recomendations are:

- Attach the sheet to the background with some screws in the NO CUTTING AREA. This will help to keep it in place.

- Think the cut. In my models you will see only one cutting line, and then the outside cut. This is because i want first to cut all the lines between the ribs but keeping them in place without falling into the router bit, and then cut the sides. But the last cut has to be from bottom to the upper part so the ribs doesnt collapse. This step is managed in rhino files.

This is so much easier with a regular cnc table - but MakerMade cnc is so fun to work with !! Its so beautiful the pattern in the wood that came up in the back sheet when the router bit pass a milimeter to cut the lamp. Love it !!

Here a put the .svg files to cut it with your cnc !! But you need to generate .gco files for your cnc with your CAD/CAM program. If you are new to cnc, i recomend you to susbcribe to CNC BASICS CLASS from Instructables. There you will learn to configura passes, corners, speeds, ... Its awesome !!

Step 5: Assembly - First Product Evaluation

First assembly look very good !! I can be arround the lamp and view it from all angles. The ribs connect with a wood gear that attach them.

I took it to some places to see it in use.. I recomend you when you design something, to prototype it and see it in use so then continue to the workshop with the design process and build. I realize here that it will need some lacquer to look better and that the sculpture looks so much better in space corners. Usually some of the corners of the rooms are empty and this will bring design to it !

When i cut 2 pieces and see them togheter it blow my mind !!! This was all about !! The same lamp but totally different upside down. When them get close, the middle gap between is so beatiful.

Then i sand and finish it with a crystal lacque. The wood took more saturation and the whole sculptures now look like a more quality product.

Step 6: Light Proposals

My first idea was to put a lightbulb into a small vertical pipe on the middle. U can see it on the first picture... But i realize that the light was too strong and the object loses legibility because the light is located too low. So i continue with my design reserch. As the object is going to be located in a corner preferably, I decided to put a led strip on a couple of ribs in the front but the light will be in the inner side of the wood so :

- The lamp will be an object when its off -A Sculpture- , because there isnt lightbulb to sight so its no Lamp

- The "led light dots" are invisible

- The shadow and light lines are only to the back of the lamp (corner of room)

- The lamp will not overlight the eyes when you look at it.

If you are designing a lamp, i recomend you to test it on the field, prototype is very important to see the actual results. The lamp off with daylight and the light on in the night can be very different. The lighting on the room is a key factor to the design process, so test it in as many spaces as you can.

Step 7: Final Sculpture !!

Here is the final WALTER LAMP !! I hope you guys like the instructable ! I gave you all my design tips and share my experience with the lamp on drawing, thinking, 3d modeling, cnc and assembly topics. Now im super excited to see some other Walter Lamps arround the world and another design inspired by it !

Step 8: Final Video !!

Here's a little video i made with all the process !! Enjoy !!

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    11 Discussions


    4 weeks ago

    Very nice! This is definitely on my wishlist of projects to make. I love the artistic design and thought process you described when it comes to the lighting. I agree with your ideas on when the light is off the wood “sculpture” is the focus, and when it is on it is lighting from the inside front through the back displaying the shadows on the opposite corner. Having the lighting face the viewer would indeed be distracting, hurt the viewability of the design and provide no use since there isn’t a surface to cast shadows on for the user.

    I might play with putting the light strip 360 on the inside “top” of the spiral, thinking it might light the immediate surface 360 below the lamp, but still not expose the lights to the viewer. No idea how that will look but as you suggest, it’s about the play testing. :-)

    Great work!

    1 reply

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    Thank you Matt !!
    When I thought about making this instructable, it was to explain that the design process continues far beyond the production process. What I mean is that you have to make one or two portotypes to continue making decisions about the final product. I hope you have the chance to make one of the Walters !!! And that inspires you to design other stuff too !!
    Cheers !!


    4 weeks ago

    Good work! thanks for sharing and for the details of your contribution :) Just a precision about CNC: MakerMade is a distributor of the Maslow CNC, the awesome machine created by Bar Smith. Interested people will find it easier by typing Maslow CNC ;)

    1 reply

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    Yes i know about the MaslowCNC !! Great machine to enter to the world of cnc !!


    4 weeks ago

    I really like the end product but also greatly appreciate your sharing of the thought process. I like the lamp both ways, with the bulb in the middle and the led strips. It would also look wonderful hanging from the ceiling in a corner. Are you going to market this?

    1 reply

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    Hi Sara! Thanks for your comment! I made the lamp as a product for my design studio. We make things that are produced with digital fabrication and some traditional methods. The idea of hang the sculpture is awesome! The weight of each rib are the same so it will hang vertically -but i have to check it out hehe-
    I compromise to extend the instructable when i hang the lamp to show you!