Week 5: Make Something Big

This week on How to Make Anything: we go big!!! I've been looking forward to this assignment since the very beginning. Using a CNC mill and a 4' x 8' piece of OSB wood, we were tasked with making 'something big', which could be anything we wanted.

For this project, I wanted to explore the architecture of the Torii gates commonly found around shrines in Japan. These gates mark the entrance to a spiritual area, and are usually placed at the entrance and along various patheways in the shrine's landscape.

After sketching the design to get some ideas for the joints, I decided to do everything with a combination of press-fit holes and wood glue. The base of the gate would be a two square columns, supported by a box with a hole as the bottom 'feet'. The bottom horizontal beam would go through a hole in the columns, and the top beam would be supported by two holes that the columns would fit into.

Using the sketch, I began designing the actual cuts in Fusion. Originally, I wanted to make a life-sized gate that would be 6 feet tall. But it turned out that there wasn't enough area on the board to do, so I ended up using the short side of the 4x8 board as the height, so I would have eight feet of material for cutting the various columns and beams.

After the design was done, I got a bunch of help from the TA in the Architecture Shop (thank you so much!!!!) to create the CAM and GCode, then load it into the CNC machine. The cuts took about 15 minutes total to finish, and it ended with the wood still held together by a little 'onion-skin' instead of being cut all the way through.

To clean up the various boards from the original sheet, this trusty metal file became my best friend. I simply stuck the file into the thin onion skin, and then pulled it down to seperate the pieces. Then, I used the same file against the edge of the boards a couple of times to smooth out the splinters and have a nice edge finish.

To assemble the gate, I first started with the bottom supports. It turns out I designed the holes a bit too small, so I had to spend some time sanding the sides to allow for the columns to fit in. But when I finally got the wood boards inside the hole, they fit very snugly and were super stable, so that was a plus! Using a bunch of clamps and wood glue, I pieced together the two legs of the gate and set them to dry.

Afterwards, I stuck in the middle horizontal beam, which is just two wood boards placed next to each other, through the holes in the columns. I also made another slight miscalculation in the design, so I had to saw off the tips of the columns to have a square shape that could fit into the upper horizontal piece.

The upper horizontal piece is basically two long boxes placed ontop of each other, with the bottom layer having two holes where the tops of the columns fit into. The fit was tight, and I had to use a hammer to smack the columns in tightly, but afterwards they held very well. And with that, the wooden torii gate was completed!

I am very happy with how this one turned out! I placed the gate in the balcony infront of my room, which will hopefully invite some spirits to bring good fortune in the future :).