cnc machining MEETS hand-carved geometry

Ark is a study in balance between digital and tactile processes, seeking to unite the best of traditional woodworking with modern 3D capturing and CNC tools. Each touchpoint was shaped by hand and 3D captured, but digitized to allow for precision joinery and repeatable CNC toolpaths for each component.

The design began with hand-sculpted quarter-scale models that were 3D captured, made full size digitally, and then CNC machined at full size for refined shaping by hand. Then 3D captured again. This tactile design workflow used 3D capturing, Meshmixer, NetFabb, MeshEnabler, Autodesk Inventor and HSM Works to integrate organic and refined handmade contours with a CAD assembly for toolpathing and CNC machining.

The chair contains roughly 50 parts, and was designed for efficient machining. This meant making as few original parts as possible and considering carefully the order of operations for workholding and cutting tools. No custom fixtures were made for the project, although some very clever working holding was required.

The project included design for fabrication, toolpathing and machine operation for several different machines, including a 5-axis router, CNC lathe, CNC mill, and waterjet cutter.

The full process is documented on, and highlights are below.