I collaborated with an artist to create a box featuring 3 sketches: wolf, bear, and mountain lion. These are etched into the wood, and cut into pieces that correlate to each side of each picture.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
I used 14 1" x 4" and some spare wood for all of my wood supply, but sheets or other sources are good too.
Make sure they are less than about .5 in thick, because then they won't fit well when you are installing them into the box.
3 drawings of any sort!
1/8" wooden dowel rod
Step 2: Putting the Wood Together
Since I decided to take the cheap route and use 14 small pieces of wood instead of 4, I had to glue mine together and make them even! To do so, I used the planer to make them all about the same depth of about .5 in. Then I glued 3 pieces together, 4 times (one for each sketch and then the back). After the glue dried, I put them in the planer once more to make sure each side was even.
Step 3: Adding Sketches and Making Blocks
My sketches came with the grid already on them, I do not recommend this. The size I was using for each block was a 2" x 2" and I told my artist to go ahead and draw the grid to help coordinate each piece. However, when I transferred this over to my computer, it was slightly crooked and warped. This caused problems when I uploaded it into inkscape and then proceeded to cut into my limited amounts of wood. If inkscape + laser cutter are not available for use, can use other tools to etch into the pieces!
After I etched into the wood, cut it into a square of about 8" x 8". Then, cut into blocks of 2" x 2". I recommend labeling them on the back of the wood with a sharpie in about the middle so they don't get lost or out of order. For example on the back of the top left-most block on the bear, it was labeled 1B. On the lion, it was 1C, and so on.
Once they are all cut out, need to cut the angles into each block. I used a band saw and had to individually cut the angle onto each side, but I'm sure there are different ways to do this on different tools. In order for the blocks to be able to be glued together, the tops and bottoms of the blocks need to have an angular cut, 60 degrees for each angle, totaling 180 degrees. Using the 2" x 2" square and 1/2" thickness, I know that the angle I desired would result in a 1/2" x 2" face on the backside. So, I cut just a sliver off each corner to make this happen.
Once each piece has the angled cut, try fitting them together, and if it works, glue them together! If not, try cutting again, or using a sander to get a more precise definition. Make sure they are all facing the right way so when it is flipped, all the blocks will be facing the right way. I forgot to do this so some of my outside pieces are upside down.
Step 4: Making the Frame - Finishing Touches
The frame needs to be slightly larger than the drawing to move back and forth along the rods, as well as turning the blocks. I used an 8 1/2" square and 2" depth as my dimensions for the box. The vertical pieces were much longer as they extended to the top, while the horizontal pieces extended only to the edge of the vertical pieces. Once these are cut, glue all but one of the vertical sides on and use a nail gun to ensure they will stay in place.
After the glue has dried, cut the rods to a length slightly longer than the inside of the frame. Then, find where each rod should go; it helps to lay it down and set up the frame as if its all together, then lay the rods with all of the blocks on on the top of the frame to test the distance of the blocks for optimal turning space. Next, drill holes (not all the way through, only enough to hold rods) about 1/2" to an inch from the top of each strip in the desired place, leaving enough room in the back for the blocks to turn.
After the holes are drilled, and the rods are sized, put all the blocks onto the rods (last time able to rearrange them so make sure its facing right direction and in the right place!) and put them into the side that is already glued to the top and bottom part of them frame (helps to turn on side). Then, make sure the rods will fit into the other side nicely, and glue the last part of the frame in place and use a nail gun to keep it in place.
Once that has dried, the back is ready to be attached. Just glue around the back of the frame, and set it on the frame, and use the nail gun to keep it in place.
Voila! May need to use sander for finishing touches, or stain if that is desired.