A Bookshelf Update

2018-04-05 15.53.55

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

2018-04-05 16.04.16

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.

2018-04-05 16.04.11

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.


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:

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 14.04.28

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 13.20.07

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 13.19.39

Itemized materials list:

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 12.43.45
Block of Wood
(Cherry seems like a nice choice)

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 13.41.32
Lightbulb Socket

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 14.29.03Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 14.28.56
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:

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 14.19.58

Or this:

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 14.52.48

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

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 15.02.55

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 15.23.46
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:

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 15.45.11
Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 15.47.44

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

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 15.45.35

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!

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 15.52.44

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.

2018-03-21 14.38.18
2018-03-21 14.38.37

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.


The big CNC


In the kitchen I find myself using a cutting board a lot, which is not surprising really…there’s one thing I’ve noticed though, about the transportation of the chopped and sliced produce into the pots and pans on the stove — there’s no easy way of doing this without picking up the whole cutting board. I don’t know about you but you I have a pretty hefty chunk of wood as my current board and lifting it over a stove in order to shove the uncooked food into a tiny pot would be a little ridiculous. That’s why having a nice hole in a light, smaller version of the cutting surface would be ideal to avoid making a mess while cooking. But do I make the hole round or rectangular? I don’t want the food to go over the edges so I may make the groove you often find around the edges of a cutting board.

Now that I’m putting together the finalized file in Vectorworks I decided upon a circular shape for the food hole. And the groove will have to be uncurved due to the 1/4 bit not being rounded.

During the milling process there was a brief moment where I thought the cutout circle was going to go flying so I paused the machine. I suppose it was a bit too big and should’ve been screwed down. Noted for next time. Other than that the big CNC definitely has a lot of crazy potential and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The most intimidating part by far was using MasterCam. The program was a bit finicky about where to press when selecting a shape and the number of buttons was a bit overwhelming. Haiyi and I both did our separate projects while supervising each other and that helped a lot – as did Ben helping us out when we got stuck with MasterCam. I’d be interested to use a different material with this machine next time. This was the first time I used wood for a skill builder and it turned out to be very satisfying. I’m happy with the results and will probably try making a cutting board with natural wood in the future.

One other thing I realized was the machine was definitely slanted just a little because when I went to take the cutting board our of the remaining plywood, the breakthrough didn’t go through on the farthest side on the X axis. Regardless, I was able to sand down the chipped wood.

For future reference: I used a down bit for this project and went to Prince Lumber for materials. The file was developed in Vectorworks.

CNC Cutting Board from Marco Wylie on Vimeo.