On Edge: Large Scale CNC Milled Lantern




Introduction: On Edge: Large Scale CNC Milled Lantern

About: Kiana Honarmand is an Iranian artist whose work addresses issues related to her cultural identity, the treatment of women in Iran’s society, censorship, surveillance, and the Western perception of the ...

"On Edge" is a large scale CNC milled lantern. I had made smaller laser cut versions but I was interested in making a lantern that can take over and entire gallery/room with its shadows. This is my process of building the lantern.

Step 1: Design

First, you can use any CAD program to design the pattern for your lantern. I used Rhino to create the pattern from Persian Calligraphy. This project uses 5'x5' panel of 0.25" mdf sheets and 7/8" pieces of poplar for corner pieces.

Step 2: Cutting the Design

Using Rhinocam, I generated the toolpaths for cutting the pattern. For this piece, I primed and painted the pieces before I started cutting.

If the pattern is dense and a large portion of the material is being removed, the cut order can be crucial. I started cutting in the center and worked my way to the corners.

Step 3: Assembly and Troubleshooting

After cutting all six panels, I cut 7/8 x 7/8" pieces of poplar for the corner pieces. I glued the poplar to the cut mdf panels.Using insert nuts and bolts, I assembled all sides of the cube. In order to keep the cube on its edge, 2 pieces of 1/4" steel were bent and attached to one corner with bolts.

Step 4: Final Touches

To conceal the corner pieces, they were painted the same color as the mdf panels. Then all pieces were sprayed with Polyacrylic. For the light source, I used a 200w mini candelabra bulb. I needed the smallest and brightest bulb I could find in order to get the strongest shadows.

The wire is attached to side of one of the panels using wire clamps and comes out from the side of the lamp.

The pieces can be stored as flat panels. Assembly only requires Allan Wrenches and takes 2-3 hours.



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    15 Discussions

    Step 2 shows an image of what appears to be a video of the piece being cut. The doesn't seem to be a link to that video. Is there a link to the video available?

    1 more answer

    Yes that is a screenshot of the video. I don't have the video uploaded anywhere, but it's only the simulation of the cut through Rhinocam.

    Hi kianahonarmand

    I'm fascinated by your large scale CNC milled latern! Great work - thank you. I like to make a smaler one by my own. However your indeep instruction dosn't tell how to generate the amazing pattern from "Persian Calligraphy" - the key element of your unique work. Two questions arise. First where to find sources of persian Calligraphy and second how did you manage the rigidity of the milled pattern (no parts break apart)

    Thank you for any hint

    2 more answers

    Hello and thank you.

    For the first question: In my studio practice as an artist, I use a lot of Persian calligraphy as it is related to the concept of my work. I usually create the calligraphy using Rhino. In this particular piece, I used a simple grasshopper script to array the words, adjust the spacing etc.

    for the 2nd question: I made 3 different patterns full-scale and improved the design each time, before cutting the final piece. Still some small pieces broke but I was able to glue them back together for the most part. Having pieces break off is a problem when working with fine and thin detail, but the missing pieces are usually not noticabe since the pattern is so dense.

    Hope that was helpful.

    kianahonarmand thank you for your advice. I made one following your guidelines. I've used inkscape for the design and a laser cutter. For the light source I make use of a LED. The laterne mesured 5 by 5 by 5 inches.

    Verry interested to see more of your artists work.

    Thank you


    5 months ago

    Very Cool Project!

    I would be interested to know what CNC machine you are using and also you said you had a Laser cutter.

    I would like to know what people are using as I am looking to buy one very soon.

    1 reply

    Thank you. This one was cut on a Thermwood 3 axis CNC. The laser cutters I have used are Universal Laser Systems VLS 6.60

    This is gorgeous. Sadly, my CNC router isn't big enough to make it the size of yours... but I could easily do a scaled-down version. Might use Celtic knotwork for the motif.

    Hm. Wonder if I have the plywood on hand...

    1 reply

    Thank you. I have made smaller versions that were laser cut . You can still get decent shadows from smaller lamps. Hope you can make one and share pictures of it.

    Very impressive! I won't try this at home... I'd fail horribly ;-)

    I would try displaying this piece with a corner facing downward, rather then edge downward. Or it could be hung by a corner as a ceiling fixture.


    5 months ago

    Impressive. Will try and make one too.

    Looks like tricky work to me but all i can say that guy got skills.