Experimenting with the ShopBot, By Jason Gray
While there are many examples of CNC-built furniture and sculpture pieces, most of them use off-the-shelf plywood and were obviously designed on a computer, using generic mortise and tenon shapes.
My goal for the class was to find a way to use the CNC technology in a way that did not scream "I made this on a cnc and put it together!" but also take advantage of the machine's capabilities, creating something that would be extremely tedious and nearly impossible to cut by hand.
Once I knew I could make the thicker ply bend, I had to decide what to do with it. My first goal was to get rid of the store-bought plywood. Aesthetically it is unappealing to me. I ended up making my own plywood, what is called solid core or lumber core ply.
I cut 8/4 poplar into 1/2 inch strips and laminated them side by side to form a panel. Then I covered both sides with two layers of walnut veneer, with the first layer laid cross-grain from the poplar. In future versions I will use nicer wood for the center; I just used what I had on hand in case my idea failed. By making my own plywood, I eliminate the usual look of plywood and gain the ability to have contrast where the cuts occur. I could push this in many ways, with alternating the woods used for the layers. I could also do it out of all the same species. From a structural standpoint you no longer have the possibility of hidden voids within the mass-produced ply, which could make the bend fail or appear inconsistent.
It was a fun process to learn, and I intend to experiment further and see where I can take it.