Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Thu 15th Mar, 2007

Thin pieces of wood

Today I bought stage two of the wooden laptop project: the actual wood. For $65, I picked up two pieces of veneer - slices slightly less than a millimeter thick - and a similar but much larger sheet of Tasmanian Oak to use as the backing. Unfortunately, I didn't get the names of the actual timbers, but one is classic burl and the other a classic fiddleback texture. Both of these have a very distinctive grain that will 'shimmer' and change colour depending on lighting and view angle, when they're polished up nicely.

I've mostly completed the bottom form - this is the part that sits underneath the layers of wood. It has slots cut in it to fit the bits of metal that are going to attach the shell to the case. (The bits of metal are another piece of engineering in themselves, and I'll be talking to a bespoke engineering firm about it). I now need to wrap it in a nice layer of plastic to keep it from being glued to the work. Then I need to work out how to cut the reverse shape into another piece of MDF.

Trevor, my pseudo-brother-in-law, had some good suggestions on how to actually glue the thing together. His main suggestion was to steam the middle section - whose grain will be running 'front to back' and will therefore be harder to bend round the curve on the front than the top and bottom layers, which will be parallel to this curve. By steaming and bending the piece of wood into at least a close approximation of the right shape, I can glue the whole thing together without having to put undue pressure on the perpendicular grain.

However, another idea just popped into my head. If the top and bottom middle pieces were metal all the way along, then they could be bent into the correct shape easily. This would not only give much more strength to the parts where the most stress is going to be, but would mean that no steaming or complicated bending need take place. It might be a bit more expensive, but paying a bit for less fiddling around is fine by me.

Anyway, you can find pictures of the veneers (and the ongoing photo-logue) here.

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