How To Make (Almost) Anything - Make Something BIG

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MAS 863 How To Make (Almost) Anything | Fall 2011

Vernelle Noel -  | 



Week 1 - Final Design Proposal

Week 2 - Make Press Fit Kit

Week 3 : Make FabISP in-circuit programmer

Week 4.1 : Make Something BIG

Week 4.2 : Final Project Review

Week 5 : Molding & Casting

Week 6 : Embedded programming

Week 7 : 3D scanning and printing

Week 8 : Input devices

Week 9 : Output devices

Week 10: Machine design & Final Project Revisted

Week 11: Networking and communications

Week 12: Final presentation

Helpful list of programs

Website >>

Blog >>

Flickr >>



"Build Something Big"

This week our assignment was to "Build Something Big" from OSB. MDF, aluminum, foam, etc… To accomplish this we received training on using the Shopbot and the Waterjet.

I designed and built something big that I needed and would have space for; a bookshelf to place on my chest of drawers. The design for my bookshelf has arms extendextending an additional 5" to accomodate more books, magazines, or hanging jewellery.

I sketch a lot in my travels, and wanted to engrave some of them and include them in my design. I decided to place them as flaps to the main openings of the bookshelf. I used the laser cutting machine for the engraving process (see here >>).

I used material that I found to engrave my pieces. Most of them were 3/16" thick plywood. After engraving my first piece, I noticed that when held up to light, I could see through it... mesmerizing glimpses of light... it looked beautiful! My settings were:

Power - 75%, Speed - 25%

I engraved the following sketches:

  1. Arc de Triomphe, France
  2. Queens Royal College, Trinidad
  3. Mamallapuram, India
  4. NAPA, Trinidad
  5. In The End: Dance And Rejoice (Trinidad Carnival 2011)
  6. Abstract Architecture

After engraving them (each one took 50-60mins), I cut my pieces for my bookshelf the following day. That went smoothly, no surprises. I assembled the shelf, sand papered here and there, and returned to hinge my engraved sketches. Sadly I did not have the number of hinges I needed and resorted to one hinge per engraving. I will however get additional hinges and redo the hinges.

In illuminating the back of the bookshelf we put tracing paper to diffuse the light source. I liked the effect of it and decided to keep it as part of the design.

Possible future edits:

  • Use ply sheets for bookshelf
  • More consistency w.r.t. sizes of engravings
  • Engrave on sheets of same thickness
  • Use hidden hinges for engraved flaps
  • Maybe have each "flap" over the entire opening of the shelf.

1. PDF of Bookshelf>>

2. CADD File of Bookshelf >>

3. Videos of Laser engraving >>

4. More photos of Bookshelf >>

5. Link to my sketches >>

John for always being there with a helping smile and a helping hand

Tom for that awesome cape and being right there when you need him for help

Sarah for the company during those long nights in the lab

Rob for being helpful too, and

My hand for continuing to produce great sketches.



My "Something Big" was a bookshelf that I needed...
My sketch of NAPA in Trinidad & Tobago
Sketch after engraving, with light behind
Click here for video >>>
Click here for video >>>
Click here for CAD File
A work in progress...
Bookshelf after completed assembly
Sketch of Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu, India
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