Project 2 : Rhino and the CNC Router

For this project, I would like to make something that supports the maker’s space, a prototype for Christmas boxes, or a wall-sized loom for a friend. Each of these projects represents ideas I’ve had for a while, but haven’t made the time to work out.

Step 1: Brainstorming and Ideation (19-October-20)

  • Idea 1: Antique hand plane till

For this piece, I’d like to create a rack that holds antique hand planes and a few saws handed down from my grandfather. Currently these pieces rumble around my shop and a couple have already been dropped. Some precedents:

Idea 3: Wall-hanging loom

A friend and fellow artist, Jess, makes different weavings, earrings, and tassels for sale — check her work, she keeps it fresh and colorful! To expand her work into guitar straps and larger weavings, a wall mounted loom will help her do that.

Idea 3: Plywood lounge chair

An idea that has been bumping around for a few years now: plywood chair without any steam bending. I have designed a few chairs and would like to experiment with the possibilities of CNC and the precision it brings.

Part 2: Initial File Work


I decided to go with the hand-plane rack, after considering my abilities and experience with Rhino 6. Below is where my design is at, currently. Still working on how to make the sides — The top, shelf, and back are all the same length, but need to be 3/8" longer on both ends to fit into the sides.

The overall height is 36" and the width is 20". A bottom partition was added for sharpening jigs and stones and measures 3–1/2" tall.

Further file work will incorporate 1/2" dividers for the planes and sides.

Part 3: Final File Work


Oofdah, that took a while. After the initial file work, I chose to go back to the drawing board a bit and work out the sides and connection points. All the dimensions are similar to the initial draft. I will admit that replicating what I could do in minutes by hand, took me hours by mouse.

The upside to all the work over many days is I am more (or less) confident with Rhino than when I started. Duplicating lines for one solid piece to fit into another, such as the dado for the bottom shelf, made all the difference for extruding those curves into solid, individual pieces.

Additionally, scaling in 1D helped with adjusting pieces to be correct dimensions on matching sides, etc.

Issues/Lessons to learn: Making the carcass joinery all meet was quite difficult. I chose to do rabbet joints to support the top, bottom, and back panels, as you can see in the image below. The back panel needed to meet the two sides to support the top on 3 sides. However, making a 90 degree rabbet corner evaded me. In essence, I used the “polyline tool” to create a 1D outline of the back, starting from the right side. When extending this line, I was left with either a groove that extended from outside to outside, or no groove at all. I chose the latter. My goal is to cut this rabbet on the table saw after all parts have been made in CNC.

Final little detail — The Apple Magic mouse was not the best tool to use with this program, for me. When trying to adjust viewpoints and zoom in, I found it to be terribly sensitive and would either be 300 feet away (exaggeration) or go through the work. Hoping to learn how to better tune my mouse to the program or what could be done differently to make movement in the program less frustrating.

Part 4: Final Assembly


Ahh, it’s finally done!

After picking up my parts from the XYZ Lab, I figured the first order of business was laying out each piece just as they were Rhino.

Since all pieces were in order, I moved on to a dry fit. As you can see below, the rabbet joints didn’t quite line up. This was a result of a combination of incorrect dimensioning (3/4" thick ply = .375" x .375" for each rabbet) and a bit of warping in the material.

Additionally, since the rabbets were off course, the shelf which supported the plane till shelf was short by about 1/4".

The tear out from cross cutting the rabbets left the ply pretty rough. After a bit of sanding with some 80 grit sandpaper all the rabbets were smooth. I’m curious if using baltic birch or hardwood ply would have resulted in less tear-out.

After dry assembling all the pieces, I determined the top and bottom rabbets needed to be re-done, as well as reducing the width of the plane-till shelf.

Setting up the dado stack on our table saw was a little finicky, but much better than trying to make a 3/8" pass with a standard 1/8" blade. Fun fact, though Sawstop recommends using a credit card for gapping between their cartridge and blade, an Ikea Friends and Family card is more flexible and less precious.

Now that the top, middle, and bottom pieces were cut to .375", everything fit much better. You can see a little overhang on the back panel, just proud of the sides. I’ll take care of that when I transition to my home studio with a router.

Back in my studio, I used a CMT 1/2" x 2–5/8" flush trim bit to remove the overhang, followed by a bit of sanding to smooth everything out.

You can see in the last picture, I used Titebond III and 2–1/2" SPAX screws to secure all panels and let it sit overnight.

With the till all glued up, I moved to the plane-till shelf. Many of the pages I found online suggested using a ruler as a spacer between your planes, which gives a little wiggle room. I followed their suggestion and laid lines out for 3 sections of 3" planes and 1 section of 2" planes. Though I currently only have a no.6 (3") and Craftsman block plane (2"), the world of Stanley planes ranges from nos. 1–8, so there’s room for expansion.

With the shelf marked out, I moved on to adding in two supports for the till shelf. I cut two 3/4" square pieces of poplar with one end at 10° and the other at roughly 70°.

The small strip in the dado at the bottom was a low-tech solution to securing the sole of the planes. One of the precedent images for this project shows small cleats which are screwed above the sole and toes of the planes. However attractive that may be, I found the gap between the dado and the insert to be sufficient to land the plane, when returning it to the till.

With the shelf marked out, 5/8" x 20" strips of maple were installed and secured with 1/2" #6 screws. One of the great affordances of a till like this is the ability to adjust dividers and spacing based off your collection.

Finally, the till was ready to be hung on the wall! I secured two pieces of 1/2" ply as backers between the studs and used 3/4" construction screws to secure the till to the wall. There was just enough room between existing cabinets and the stored wood for both the till and my charging station.

I designed this shelf to be a basic setup and first draft of what will most likely be expanded, down the road. There is plenty of room to add antiques to the wall, as well as sharpening stones, guides, mats, etc. The small western hand saw was my grandfathers and fits nicely in the small void at the end. Further additions to this piece could include more tools (obviously) a hardwood face frame, drawers, cabinet door(s), and even magnets to secure the planes.

Overall, I’m happy with my work. I learned a lot from designing in Rhino and often found it frustrating having spent 20+ hours painstakingly laying out each line to form this project. Though I could have easily done the design on paper and cut everything in an afternoon, I wanted to make a project that translated to a functional piece. CNC will no doubt be in my future work.

Inter-College Program Student studying psychology, art, and inter-disciplinary design at the University of Minnesota.