Edison Lamp Station


My initial idea for a lamp included a light switch, a rubber mat to rest your phone on, a metal post for sunglasses, and a pocketed area for change.

Once I started drafting this idea in Vectorworks, and became aware of the size limitations of the 4-Axis, I realized I needed to rework my idea. I knew I wanted something functional for my bedside table, and I wanted to incorporate my skill builder into my final. (For the skill builder I made a small charging dock for an iPhone.)

Vectorworks prototypes:

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Once the cherry wood arrived in the mail it became easier to see the dimensions of everything I wanted to mill.

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Because I wanted to maximize the amount of wood I could use I needed to add tabs in Vectorworks to allow the machine to take off the minimal amount on the front and back. This also prompted me to create a third roughing and finishing tool path to ensure the front and back would be milled.

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Unfortunately, the drill bit was not as long as I needed it to be and at one point the callet, collet, caullet however you spell that, ran into the chuck. Oops!

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After restarting the machine due to that error, I was pleased to find I could restart the job without losing all my axies! I edited the tool paths to not mill on either side of the piece.

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Thankfully, the bit was just long enough to be able to mill down to the center on each side.

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Once the 4-Axis started milling the back I saw that the bit wasn’t in fact long enough make the hole for the charger.

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I was a little baffled as to why the machine left such rough lines on the front near the back, but I thought the final tool path would correct that.

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It didn’t unfortunately.

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It left some pretty nasty grooves on the top.

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I thought that maybe if I ran the last finishing step one more time it would get rid of the grooves on the surface.

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So I deleted all the other paths and highlighted the top of the surface where I wanted the machine to mill.

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After milling air for half an hour it finally started to smooth out where I wanted it to.

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But to my dismay, it didn’t smooth it all that much.

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After taking it off the 4-Axis and cutting off the extra wood on the sides using the bandsaw, I was left with some sanding to do. But first I wanted to drill a hole where the bit didn’t go through.

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Hastily, and after 7 hours milling, I slightly damaged the wood around the hole which was frustrating.

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I tried the drill press but it didn’t do any good, so I started filing the area down to make the hole big enough to fit a charger cable.

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Then I got to sanding the sides using a miter guide which made it easy to create an even surface area.

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The finished result looked great!

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Then it was time to discuss how to fit the lamp parts into everything before I lathed the remaining cherry wood bits.

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Ben suggested making a small lamp post and affixing it on the lathe with the chuck and then using the drill to create a hole large enough to fit the guided nipple post — is that what it’s called?

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The cherry wood pieces.

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The failed drill press attempt.

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The cherry wood prepared for lathing.

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I needed to make a .7 diameter, 1/4″ deep part at the bottom of my lamp post in order to securely glue it into the 4-axis part.

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Once I had the correct size for that part I started shaping the rounded wood.

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Using three grits of sandpaper, I sanded it until it was really smooth.

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And used the drill to easily make a centered hole through the middle.

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After band-sawing off the ends, it was ready to be glued!

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Tightly clamped.

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Now it’s time to wait 8 hours.

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Since I had all this time on my hands to wait, I wanted to utilize one more machine, the Othermill.

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Out of aluminum, I wanted to make a lightning bolt.

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It took me a while to remember that the illustrator file had to be filled in in order to show up in Bantam. While the Othermill was doing it’s job I realized a crucial mistake.

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My charger cable wouldn’t fit!

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So I stared at it for a long time thinking of what I could do to remedy the situation.

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Every now and then glancing over and stopping the milling process to vacuum up the pieces!

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Thankfully Ben had a solution for me. And we carefully drilled a round hole in the bottom so I could thread the cable through.

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The lightning bolt came out nicely, and just required a little scraping off the ends to make it smooth.

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Ben was also kind enough to teach me how to properly wire the lamp so I wouldn’t die turning it on.

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Although the two marked areas in red would be rounded, I think the bolt came out nicely.

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The original Illustrator file without it being properly filled in.

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I realized something wonky that took me a while to sort out when subtracting pieces from the main block in Vectorworks. I needed to use the arrows to have the part I wanted subtracted to be highlighted in yellow and the rest to be highlighted in red or else everything around it would be subtracted.

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What it shouldn’t look like, but what it defaulted to.

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The error I got when improperly trying to subtract the whole shape from the tiny part.

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After waxing on the lathe and by hand in the pocketed areas.

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Felt on the bottom.

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And it’s done!

A Bookshelf Update

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Sliding the shelves I milled into the bookshelf I made me realize a crucial mistake, and another mild one.

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First, the shelves were difficult to hammer in with a mallet (not the one I used for the lathe assignment because hardwood on hardwood wouldn’t be good) because the left side of the shelves was assembled upside down, and the distance between the first shelf and second aren’t the identical so it made things crooked. I also did not consider hinges before I CNC’d the whole thing. One visit to Home Depot’s hinge section made me realize that pretty fast. Then there’s the double track mark you can see when looking its back. I wanted to face the back piece the other way so that you would never potentially see this mistake unless you were looking at it from behind. Hasty gluing should be avoided.

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I did not leave myself enough room to install any interior hinges of any kind unfortunately so I’d like to take this a step further and cut off the pocketed area around the body’s front frame so things will look more polished and intentional.


4 Axis Maple iPhone Dock

A first go on the 4 axis proved to be a very long one where most of the work is done on the design. Unlike the lathe or even parts of using the big CNC, this machine really does everything pretty much on it’s own with little vacuuming required once start is pressed. None-the-less it’s pretty satisfying to hold a 3D figure of something you made in Vectorworks out of a solid block of hard wood.

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Wireframe view of model.

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Isometric view of back.

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Wireframe isometric view. (Showing a future mistake that will be made.)


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Top view.

And so,

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taking a block of maple left over from the turning exercise,

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I measured all the sides with a center finder

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and generally marked where the wood would be cut.

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Drilled a hole with a center hole bit for the lathe end of the 4 axis.

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Placing the wood in the shuck (shank?) (chuck?)

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and tightened the lathe end.

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The 3D model in SRP Player.

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Added tabs to the model after finalizing the Vectorworks file.

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The process beginning – 2.4 hours.

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The Axis.

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Half an hour or so into the process.

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An axis turned once to the right.

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Roughing process.

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Finishing process.

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Finished process.

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Taken off the machine there is clearly no hole going through the wood to allow for a charging cable.

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Left over pieces and cut and un-sanded, un drilled through result.

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Sanded down back view.

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Sanded side view. The cut of the saw made a great design in the wood.

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Since I didn’t have a hole I made my own. But realized using such a thin bit wasn’t a great idea on the drill press. It was bending but didn’t break so I switched to a bigger one and that things a little messy.

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The unfortunate hole on the bottom.

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Back view.

I really appreciate what a rounded bit can do to a piece of wood’s surface. It makes for a smooth effect — at least that’s what I got out of this maple.

Next time I need to remember to make my shapes overlap a bit in my Vectorworks files. I also need to utilize the option of changing the bit mid process so I can achieve not only a beautiful surface and rounded corners, but sharp edges and cut through pieces. Although I made a bit of a sloppy mess of the hole with the wobbly drill press after it all, I certainly learned what I needed to know going into the final now.

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….And while I was at it I brought out my lathe turned honey dipper to cut and sand the ends off while I refined the ends of the dock.

Finals Brainstorm


Using a block of wood, I’d like to make an USB Charging Edison Lamp with a Catch-All.

Below are some examples of what some of the components would look like:

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Itemized materials list:

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Block of Wood
(Cherry seems like a nice choice)

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Lightbulb Socket

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Edison Bulbs (long and regular) (already purchased)

The difficult part is finding a usb charging port that has a plug for the light socket that is spaced enough so that I can only show the two usb ports (like the second sketch I drew).

I could possibly use something like this:

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Or this:

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Or I could use a hub but that would probably require a lot of wiring space inside of the wood.

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Dimmer Switch (I would make a knob on the small CNC for it)

Depending on how I go about wiring things, and whether or not I’ll have a dimmer there are a few options for power cords:

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I could also just have the dimmer directly on the socket, but then I’m not sure how to wire up the usb cable.

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I could potentially use a simple extension cord if I wanted to use a USB hub mounted on the inside of the box…which makes me now think that I shouldn’t be using a solid piece of wood to make this out of!

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Wooden Mallet

I used an oak dowel and a maple rectangle of wood to make a mallet on the lathe.
After finding the center of both pieces, I loaded the block to shape into a cylinder first.
Greatly underestimating the time it would take to bring a rectangle to something manageable.
My first half an hour I was shocked to have only made a little progress.
This was the first time I had ever tried turning something that wasn’t already rounded, and it definitely made me reconsider my time management.
Slowly but surely, things began to take shape.
After two hours it looked like this:
Which then turned into a slightly rough version of what I wanted the head to look like.
After sanding down with a number of different grits, I remembered wanting to make two grooves in the ends of the head.
I took an even finer sandpaper to the grain to get into the grooves I just made.
After taking it off the lathe, it was time to make a 1″ hole for the handle. For the first time I learned how to use the drill press, and realized that it’s a bit lopsided unfortunately.
Making the two 90 degree holes on either side of the 1″ hole I had just made didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.
The hole for the handle wasn’t deep enough, and I had made one of the 90 degree angle holes a little less than 90 degrees on one side so I had to go back and make the handle hole larger to supplement the mistake.
Although the holes were not positioned precisely, I managed to get deepen the handle hole which helped make up for the misaligned hole on the right.
I measured the width of the hole for the handle and carefully started to turn the oak into a handle with the proper 1″ diameter at the end.
After gluing the two parts together it looked pretty good — although the mallet head was a little off center due to the misalignment of the drill press and having to re-drill the hole and a second time.
Once the glue had dried for about half an hour I applied a shiny coat of tung oil.
In the morning, I realized the tung oil didn’t take very well and decided to wax the whole thing instead on the lathe.

The Wood Lathe

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What an amazing tool. The lathe was pure fun. My hands were shaking once I finished for some time after turning two dowels. There was certainly a difference between the pine and oak wood. Every time I thought I had something smooth to work with on the pine it ended up looking really jagged along the grain. And it didn’t turn into butter like the oak did once you smoothed and rounded off everything.

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I started under the assumption that I wanted to technically follow the turning chisel layout and found the center of the wood using the center finder.

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Then, I hammered the drive center into the wood, and attached the live center, aligning everything by tightening the bolt on the left end of the lathe.

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Once everything seemed sturdy I attached the tool rest approximately to the middle of the material and in pretty close proximity.

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Because I assumed following the diagram would be the best way to start, I marked the parts I needed to lathe accordingly…

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only to quickly notice I wanted to experiment with shapes and see what happened. I liked the outcome. It sort of reminds me of a huge honey dipper.

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After using two grades of sandpaper, 400 and 220, I had a pretty smooth piece of lathed wood — and I was ready to see what oak felt like.

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Muscle memory helped me quickly place a new piece of dowel.

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And after about 25 minutes, I had something interesting I liked to use for a handle.

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The two pieces, unfinished, but taken off the lathe and ready to be varnished.

A Bookshelf

Now that I’ve spent about 7 hours using the CNC machine I’m getting pretty comfortable with it. I’ve learned that the machine definitely is a little crooked because of the flooring, and that the wood I used was bent toward the center resulting in pieces that didn’t breakthrough. Although Mastercad is an ugly interface, I’m used to the work flow now, and I barely have to go back to my Vectorworks file to edit before milling. I definitely didn’t expect each piece to take about an hour to mill. And if I didn’t get sick over break, I would have had enough time to finish this before class. I drastically underestimated the time I would need on the CNC machine, and having everyone using it around the same time didn’t help.


First, I sketched out each piece on paper to visualize how much wood I’ll need.

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Then I created 3 Vectorworks files, one for the back, one for the two sides, and one for the top and bottom. As you can see below, I didn’t add any pockets on the top and bottom of the side parts, which I realized was a mistake later.

In order to get the dimensions right, I made a tiny model out of paper with the measurements to see how the parts connected.


Once I got all my measurements in order I went to Mastercad and started with the pockets for each file and then added contouring. Because I used a single rabbit joint, I set the pockets to be half of the width of the plywood which was .725, so my pockets were set to .363 (that’s with .5 added tolerance). I also double checked that the settings were on Absolute.


My plywood was cut to about the size of the bed (4 x 4) and screwed into place with 5 screws.


I realized there was a slight bend in the middle of the wood. Unfortunately, no screws could fix this issue.


I loaded the “back” piece and after pressing start I realized that I didn’t zero the mill far enough to the left on the X axis. The mill went off the side of the wood, so I loaded the side pieces and re-purposed that piece of plywood for those two parts.


Once the side pieces finished I started milling the top and bottom parts. Something strange happened during this process. The piece of plywood was also bent in the middle and this caused the mill to miss the middle of the pocket during the first couple of runs.


This surprised me because half way through the process, it started milling the middle in what seemed like an even line all the way from one side to the other!


The finished top piece didn’t go all the way through on the other side, but looked pretty good from the front.


The bottom piece milled the same way the top did, leaving out the middle until creating a heavy line midway through the process.


The last piece I milled was the back. I made sure to zero the machine all almost all the way to the left on the X axis. To my dismay, and because of the wood being bent in the middle, the CNC started milling the tab in the middle upper portion of the wood and scraped the middle of it on it’s way over there. I stopped the process and started again, zeroing the Z axis a little higher, but that wasn’t enough either and I ended up with two marks in the middle of my nice piece of wood.


Eventually, I had to bring the Z axis much farther up so the bit could pass the middle bent section without hitting it. That resulted in my entire piece not breaking through to the other side.


I had to do something about the fact that most of my pieces didn’t breakthrough so I grabbed a hand tool to take off the edges of some of my pieces.


That left me with quite a bit of sanding to do. I made sure to not sand down the pockets like I did when I practiced making my joints.


The sanded pieces looked pretty good after a while, aside from the back piece which had the two track marks in it.


Then it was time to glue the pieces together. I started with the top and bottom and glued it to the back with 4 90 degree clamps.


Once I had both sides clamped there wasn’t much more I could do because the CNC was booked until the next day when I had 3 more hours in the evening to finish the shelves and two doors. That was around the time I got a text from NYU saying they would be closed the next day due to a snowstorm. I left the top, bottom, and back pieces for the snowday clamped together for a strong hold.

Time is not on my side, credenza.

Having been sick for a majority of spring break I’ve decided against my original plan to make a credenza because I just won’t have enough time to make it really nice and polished. I also realized that the CNC machine has a bed with a limit of 4 x 4 that would have a long cabinet like I wanted. Working within my new time frame, here are a few ideas:

Entryway cabinet

I like how the wood grain is positioned here. link

Shoe Caddy:

I like the side of this piece at the bottom, and the fact that it has a surface on top which could be useful. link

Putting together these two ideas, I could create a storage cabinet for underneath my kitchen counter, which is something I actually need so I may go forth with that idea. Something along the lines of this with doors. link

I’m going to use a single rabbit joint to ensure everything fits properly, and so that I can complicate the design a little bit without worrying misfits. I like the way it looks better than the double rabbit and I think my pieces will be tighter since I’m more confident with this approach.


Jointery – 2nd Try

While thinking about what I want to ultimately do for my midterm, I realized that it would be a good idea to try and perfect the joint I’ll be using in order to save time. A double rabbet joint should suffice for the credenza I’ll be adapting from this work plan.

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I ran into a few problems when attempting this type of joint. First, I created two identically measured pieces in Vectorworks and brought it into Mastercam and then to the CNC machine. I laid down the wood only to realize once I had everything set and I was about to press “start” that I had aligned the wood improperly on the bed.

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I needed to set it up so that the blank area of the wood was along the X axis not the Y. So I re-positioned it and then I was all set to go.
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After about 12 minutes here’s what I ended up with:

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Not a great fit, I know, but it allowed me to see where I needed to subtract from each piece.
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I went back to Vectorworks and Mastercam and made my adjustments.
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By the end of that run cycle I ended up with two pieces that fit together almost perfectly!

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When I looked at the two pieces fitting together very closely I realized that in Vectorworks I didn’t round the corners on the inside of the pockets which could be why they weren’t sitting entirely flush.

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Nevertheless, I was very satisfied with the progress I had made and what I learned from taking the time to really get this joint down. I’d like to know how I can figure out the math behind this without having to make two identical parts first.

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This weeks assignment to make a joint with the big CNC proved to be a very challenging task. Getting the tolerances right mathematically stumped me a bit and it was hard to conceptualize what was going to happen in a 2D model in Vectorworks. You’d think a simple looking joint like a half lap would be easy to figure out — it wasn’t! I decided upon a half lap joint in order to make a short corner bookshelf. Once I got home though, I realized that the 90 degree angle I had planned to put the furniture was anything but 90 degrees. Now I think I’ll make a short TV stand instead for the midterm.

In Vectorworks I ran into a lot of problems figuring out where I needed to add tolerance and how to go about adding it without ending up with a solid filled shape.

Unfortunately the first attempt to mill didn’t work out because of a common problem placing the X axis all the way forward on the Y axis when zeroing out. The next day the I was able to start milling!

Mastercam was a bit of a nightmare this time around. It wouldn’t let me mill completely around the left square so I had to invididually set each side of the square which is why I think I ended up with a nasty looking edge on one of them. Also the mill didn’t cut all the way through my material even though I set the breakthrough to 0.05 and I rounded up my material thickness. I may chalk that up to the spoil board being pretty wobbly and the position of the wood on the machine was further back to avoid any X axis problems again.
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After having completed my weird looking probably not a real sturdy joint skill exercise I’m a little freaked out about using joints for the midterm. I’ll definitely need some help figuring out how to do the math associated with tolerances and jointery in general.