Making 5 of Something

This week for Fabrication, we had to make 5 of something, using jigs to make repeatable steps. When I first heard this assignment, I started to research modular shapes on Google images, and through the Google Image wormhole, I ended up at this lamp design:


Unfortunately, Ben Light mentioned that this design would require such precision that it might require a laser cutter, unless we had some furniture woodworking tools like a planer and a joiner. Therefore, I changed the design of my lamp to build something without a laser cutter. Ben suggested that I make shapes that might fit together, so I experimented with this design prompt with cardboard.


Going with one rectangle in the middle wasn’t as structurally sound as I wanted, so I decided to repeat the bottom two levels. Here’s my sketch for the measurements for each individual rectangular face.


As for material, Ben suggested I use a plywood that was machine-trimmed to be straight. When I got to Home Depot though, I didn’t like any of their plywood, so I decided to use a high-density fiberboard. The material was straight and clean, and I liked the color of the material.


To start, I trimmed the fiberboard using the plywood saw in the shop. I set up a wood stop block to ensure 8 inch pieces on the vertical and 4 inch pieces on the horizontal.



Here are my results:



Once I had these cuts, I had to make four 3-sided cuts on each of these boards. I couldn’t use a saw to make this cut, so I decided to use a drill bit to cut a hole and use a saw to drill into that hole. Here’s my set up for the drill bit.





I then took these slabs to the band saw, where I opened up the holes.




Lastly, I used a Dremel with a sanding bit to sand out these cut-ins, and then I fit these pieces together to form a sculpture.


Here’s my final product:




Notes of things I learned and things I’d want to do differently:

  • Repeating things is hard! Creating the jigs was definitely helpful, but sometimes these did not help to reproduce exact replicas.
  • Fiberboard was an interesting material. It felt as durable as wood, but the surface would peel like cardboard with too much force. I probably would not use this material again for a lamp, and I wonder what this material is best used for.
  • Speaking of which, material shopping is probably the most difficult part of Fabrication. Figuring out what material to use and what the different properties are of each material is something that I would like more resources on. Which woods blow out the most? What material is flexible yet strong? These kind of questions would be great to learn so that we don’t spend too much money experimenting.
  • The plywood cutter was great, and it seemed to be the most reliable for straight cuts. But, I can’t wait to learn that laser cutter…