Inlay using the OtherMill


Our previous exercise consisted of familiarizing ourselves with the OtherMill; understand the workflow, limitations and possibilities.


For this week's Inlay assignment, I wanted to make a wooden board that contained three different shapes made from another material, ideally for kids to put in and out.


The original idea had a circle, a rectangle and a star lined up next to each other inside the board's bounds. The shapes had a magnet on the bottom part and a bit a wood popping out of the top part to serve as a handle.


As you'll see below, things didn't go down as I had planned.




Process


My main objective here was to create something that would teach me about making an inlay, finishing and using more than one material on the same piece.


To start things up, I designed the piece in VectorWorks.




For some reason, my units keep messing up. I already set a profile in inches, but when exporting to Illustrator things get fairly distorted. It was a bit of a rough start but I got to make the design with offsets for the inlay.


I planned on milling the wood base first and then variate the shapes' sizes.

Sadly, I consistently had issues when trying to export from VW to Illustrator.






I decided to simplify and make the design by scratch in Illustrator. This limited by capacity to make more interesting shapes because of the lack of fillets on Illustrator. I kept running into issues like this one so I decided to simplify the design as much as possible and focus on the basic premise of the project: "create something that would teach me about making an inlay, finishing and using more than one material on the same piece."


So, I designed a square with a circle inside it.

The main square had rounded corners to give it a nicer feel in the hand. I gave the circle a 0.99x offset as a preliminary test.


I had some nice plywood lying around. I used the chop saw, band saw and sander to get a smaller piece that fit in the OtherMill's bed. For the acrylic, I cut down a piece using the band saw.



When starting to set the OtherMill, I noticed that the person before me left it pretty messy and with a broken bit. I removed everything and inserted my new bit. Loaded the files in Bantam, configured everything and pressed play.




After making the first cut on wood, I took the part out and sanded it with a grade 200 paper sander.




Next, I placed the acrylic sheet in the mill and started the job for the circle. I noticed that some "air milling" was happening, and realized that the sheet of acrylic was not 1/8".


I measured the material with the caliper and added the new configurations to the Bantam software.



The circle fits perfectly in the wood base, but since I didn't measure the acrylic before making the engraving on the base, the piece goes a hair further in. It's a bit annoying to be honest, but I learned my lesson: always measure, never assume.



Final result





Learnings


I enjoyed making this assignment. I feel very intrigued by the process of fabrication in general and this exercise gave more grip on a great tool.


What worked

  • Sanding wood makes such a big difference in terms of feel in hand.

  • Didn't break any bits.

  • The inlay worked on the first try.


What didn't work

  • It was one of those days where a lot of things go wrong for no reason and my workflow was very slow

  • VectorWorks has a steep learning curve that I have yet to conquer.

  • My design had to be minimized two times.

  • Due to poor time management, I didn't give myself enough time to really explore. This is something that'll change for the next assignment.



David Azar

New York

Product Manager & Creative Engineer

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