© Jonathan Gallagher 2012-2019
May 5, 2016 / By jonnie
Nature Plate Suite –
Three Stages of Wood
I wanted to make a bowl (it ended up more in the realm of a plate or dish) with an animal motif. I imagined something that someone might have on a nightstand in their cabin in the woods. I grabbed animal vector images from the noun project and tried to arrange them in a way that made sense. I had a fish, bear and eagle : the whole ecosystem. I knew from the dimensions I was planning on milling that a bear at the same scale as the fish and eagle likely wouldn’t fit on the bowl so I ended up scrapping it.
I arranged everything quickly first in illustrator then brought the vectors into Vectorworks as a .DWG. I had a bit of trial and error trying to make the bowl shape and eventually figured out that the best way to acheive the result I was looking for was to take a hemisphere and push the bottom face up until only the top 1/8th or so of the curve was left. I made the initial hemisphere much larger than the circle of animals so that the leftover curve ended up being about the right size. I then put everything on the same layer and hit intersect solids with the bowl layer sent to the back . This gave me a bowl shape with the animals cut out, I had a few unwanted variations before figuring out that the final object takes its form from the object furthest back in arrangement.
I initially imported the vectors in two halves with the plate split down the middle but found it easier to import them as a whole and split as a last step with the line split tool in Vectorworks after combining everything.
I happened across oak boards in home depot that seemed to have the right dimensions for milling on the 4 axis. Although this oak is nothing special I wanted to try working with it. I found out afterwards that one of its selling points is that it’s “good for milling”. It lived up to this claim and milled well. I had some poplar in a wider board to hand as well. I wanted to add a second wood in but only if was darker or stained to be so.
I milled the smaller piece first. Set up on the 4 axis was standard, quick and painless. I originally had a long board that was near the limit of the machine bed. When I tried to cut the relatively small piece SRP Player threw an error and stated that the maximum length for this size of piece should be 7.1 inches. I cut my material down to just shy of 7 inches each on the bandsaw.
This is after the bit torqued out, I quickly cut off the spoiled portion with the band saw and tried milling a second time with what was left.
Although this isn’t a stain that’s marketed as specifically for oak (it definitely says walnut on the can) and I knew that it might not give satisfactory results I gave it a try on a tester piece. I preferred the way that the 3 wax finish looked and thought it suited the piece better so I went with that instead. The log is birch and not the original material but I thought it added to the presentation of the other two pieces, the smaller one fits pretty well on top of it. Here is the final decorative triptych.