This is my first exploration into 3d-printed furniture components. The goal is to come up with a system of simple wood pieces and 3D connectors that can be easily assembled to make a variety of furniture types.
Step 1: Concept
I first experimented with the idea of 3D-printed components by making a 3-axis joint inscribed into a cube. It fits 1"x1" wood pieces. It turned out to be too clunky for developing into a furniture piece, but gave me a good idea for tolerances and friction fits.
Step 2: Design
Instead of starting with the joint and figuring out how to fit it into a piece of furniture, I decided to work backwards. I modeled up a little side table in Rhino and designed the joints to fit the piece.
Step 3: Tools and Materials
I used a lot of tools for this project, but I'm sure a more experienced woodworker could make do with fewer. Since the table doesn't require any mechanical fasteners, the materials list is pretty minimal.
1. 5/4 wood planks, about 8" wide x 7' long. I used walnut.
2. 3/8" or 1/2" plywood sheet, about 2'x4'. This doesn't have to be fancy, it's just for the template.
3. Wood glue
4. #10 wood biscuits
1. Objet 3D Printer
4. Table Saw
5. Chop Saw
6. Band Saw
7. Plunge Router
8. Big Clamps
9. Biscuit Joiner
10. Orbit Sander
11. Laser cutter (optional).
Step 4: 3D Print the Joints
I used an Objet Connex 500 3D printer to fabricate the joints.
Step 5: Make the Table Legs
The legs are 23-1/4" long wood pieces with a cross section that's ever so slightly less than 1"x1". I jointed and planed the wood and then ran it a few times through the table saw to get the right cross section. Then I cut the 59.5 degree angle on either end on the chop saw. The wood should slide fairly easily into the joints but shouldn't be loose.
Step 6: Make the Table Top
Making the table top was the trickiest part of the project. I took the easy way out and cut out a plywood template on the laser cutter, but there are definitely more clever ways to do this (http://www.instructables.com/id/Making-A-Circle-Cutting-Jig/).
1. I first jointed and planed 3 pieces of wood, each about 7"x5/4" in cross section and 20" long.
2. I then biscuited and glued the pieces together, and clamped the heck out of it.
3. Once the glue had dried I ran the whole assembly through the planer again to get rid of any warping.
4. Using the plywood template and 2 roughly-cut pieces of ply underneath, I routed a circular groove 3/8" deep into the underside of the wood. This is for the top joint.
5. To cut out the rest of the circular depression, I clamped a guide to the wood and routed out the material line-by-line, moving and re-clamping the guide as I went. This took about 15 passes.
6. To cut out the exterior edge of the table top, I first took off as much material as I could with the band saw and then passed the router along the exterior edge of the template.
Step 7: Assembly
Now to the easiest and most rewarding part. Assembling the parts took about 1 minute! I placed the table top upside down, inserted the top joint into the circular depression, and slid the legs into the second joint. Done.
Next step....casting joints?