Create Wooden Objects From Computer Printouts

This instructable will cover how to create wooden objects from a 3d printout.  This particular example was very fast (~2 hours real world time) and was done to create an 'easter bunny with a steam theme' for a friend.  Notably this method still creates predominantly 'flat' objects; which keeps things simple, but will never compare to a 3d printer, or CNC router in ability to make cool stuff; however it is easy to approach and with some investment of time you can make really sharp looking things

Tools you will need:
1- Printer, black and white
2- Bandsaw
3- Files
4- Wood burner, or soldering iron
5- Belt sander

Materials you will need:
1- Paper
2- Spray adhesive
3- Planed wood

Step 1: Find the Picture(s)

Find a picture you want to turn into a real world thing, the more basic the better.

Ideally you want these pictures to be just black/white and to have larbe block detail- unless your a real pro at the bandsaw or like the idea of spending a LOT of time with a file very fine details are bad.  Searching google for '<image> stencil' is a good way to go, since stencils need to be cut out by someone by hand at some point to be used.

Step 2: Attach to Wood

The next step is to cut out your paper images and attach them to your piece of wood with spray adhesive.  I recommend spray adhesive (regardless of specific brand) because it will very quickly attach the paper to the wood without leaving a great deal of residue or warping the paper (as a glue is likely to do).  I also recommend using the spray adhesive away from your wooden workpiece or anything that you care about.  Dip the head of the spray adhesive into paint thinner after use (turning the can upside down and spraying is supposed to clear the head, I find it never works)

Step 3: Rough on Bandsaw

Use the bandsaw to rough the image a bit- basically at this point your just trying to get it down to a reasonable size.

Step 4: Detail on Bandsaw

Now its time to cut away everything white that you can reach with the bandsaw.  Take shallow cuts and take out material in small curved triangles wherever possible.  Further, with all but the finest bandsaw blades there is a certain 'area of material removal' right where the blade hits the workpiece- you can rough right down to leaving just a small line of white by removing triangles and then leaving the edge of the blade on the workpiece and walking the blade sideways, it will remove the material along the line you move it without wanting to 'bite' in and pull itself forward.

Assuming everything went ok- you should now have a cut out of your object (in my case below, I could not get the blade to fit on the rabbit's right side whiskers, so he has whiskers on one side only)

Step 5: Cleanup

File, dem, drill, chissel, burn, sand, or otherwise clean up your work- all the edges will be pretty jagged, there might be some white areas that were completely surrounded by black.

In my example the rabbis it holding an egg, and there is no way to access the white between his fingers- I just drilled that out.

Step 6: BURN!

Did you notice a wood burning tool in step 5?  It's that little pen thing, it was happily heating up during that picture, now I use it to get some of the other white parts that a simple drill were not going to get (the steam logo in this case), and burn that out.  Don't worry about the paper, just burn out the white parts, try to keep the pattern as accessible as possible.

Step 7: Sand

You now have an image, you can see white around the edges, there's burned paper on it- looks kind of rough.  Here is where the real magic happens.  Start up your belt sander(but you could use a palm sander if you lack one) and place the paper side down, check the workpiece regularly applying pressure where there is still paper, until all the paper is removed.

Step 8: Touch Up

Now that you can see what your work actually looks like you may want to touch it up some.  Clean it with compressed air or by running some water over it, and do some additional burn or filing for anything that looks way off.  I finished off the loop on the top right arm of the steam crest.

Step 9: Finished

Your now done- you could stain this, or polyurethane it to protect it, but your otherwise completed the project.  Hope you enjoyed the read and that it has spurred your creative impulses.

Remember completion time for this image was <2 hours, so there is no reason you can't build one on your own inside a day.

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    7 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I've done similar with a scroll saw. I'm working on making a CNC router now. I guess that says something about how I feel about it now? One other thing I should mention acrylic craft paint is my finishing option of choice for objects of this nature. Hand painting stuff like this is a whole other thing though.

    You're pretty good with a band saw. I don't think I could cut something out as detailed as your bunny is on one. I've done detailed work on my scroll saw though.

    I've scanned stuff I've found in magazines then printed it out, but I guess you could just rip pages out of magazines and cut it out directly. Might even be able to leave your stencil on then too. Sort of like simple decoupage? There are other spray adhesives that remove a bit easier than 3M 77 does. They don't come right out and say it but I've a feeling 77 is for permanent bonding.

    I've used this stuff:

    It peels right off.

    I've bought coloring books specifically just to cop the patterns out of them. So there is another avenue for getting suitable patterns to cut out.

    Anyhow your punk bunny is pretty cute. Keep up the good work!

    6 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks a lot for the comment

    On using magazine clippings/scanning:
    Scanning it has the advantage that you could likely use some post processing to figure out what it's going to look like once you only have the three 'layers' or 'wood' 'no-wood' 'burned wood'.

    On using a more tacky and less bonding adhesive:
    I at least find that when I get into far more detailed work (like the whiskers on the bunny here) that anything not qualifying as 'permanent bond' has an annoying tendency to remove itself at critical juncture- and I use a rough enough bandsaw blade (3/4" 40tpi) that the surface gets pretty marred, so a sand to clean it up is required anyway.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    For me scanning allows me to use a pattern but not destroy the original. With some materials I wouldn't really care if I damaged the original source though. Like say if I was thumbing through a random magazine and saw a picture on a page I might like to cut out, but didn't care about the whole magazine much.

    A 40 TPI blade sounds pretty fine toothed to me. How many days does it take you to make a cut with that? I have some 32 TPI blades but they're for cutting thin sheet metal on a pneumatic saw that reciprocates 10,000 times a minute. At that it isn't very fast.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    humm- your probably correct, I'll check the tooth count next time I'm in the shop. It's a coarse blade.