Irony: a tree made from plywood.

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Project by LeTurbo posted 05-05-2017 05:52 PM 1819 views 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

There’s a local school for the disadvantaged that has just been sponsored a library – some companies and many members of the community put in time or money. I don’t know if they’ve had one before – the school dates from 1881 – but it’s certainly the first the present kids have encountered.

I was commissioned to design and build this “Tree of knowledge” based on some references supplied by the architect.

It’s 18mm Birch ply, six bookcases in a hexagonal trunk, with adjustable shelves. There’s actually about 27 square metres of plywood in there, surprisingly.

For the bookcases, I routed the pieces to be interlocking, which made glue up a lot easier. There wasn’t any shifting of parts. Then the bookcases align with mortise and tenons.

The cnc job turned into a nightmare – all my fault. I was actually going to do it the old fashioned way with a template and a guided router cutter. A friend convinced me to go cnc though, and the company said they could work with a photo of the template as the artwork. Uh … no. It all came back severely crooked and wobbly, so I had to make up a router jig to tidy up one of the new pieces (a different size to the template) and then redo the entire job according to my original plan. I wore out 2 cutters, and two ball-bearings that just disintegrated.

There’s plenty I’d do differently next time, if there ever is one! I’d make three bookcases a lot deeper, with the shallower ones joining the whole together. The tree branches would be at more varied angles – for this I used 30 and 45 degrees – but there’s not enough differentiation. Maybe 0 degrees and 45 would’ve been better. And I’d cantilever the branches from the top, reaching back to the middle of the trunk. Ah well! I have to admit I’m glad the job is over.

7 comments so far

View finns's profile


169 posts in 3596 days

#1 posted 05-05-2017 09:09 PM

For all the pain you went through it turned out great.

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile


742 posts in 3753 days

#2 posted 05-06-2017 05:15 AM

I think it turned out wonderfully! And for such a cause, you will be blessed! WELL DONE, SIR!


-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View GR8HUNTER's profile


6369 posts in 1192 days

#3 posted 05-06-2017 03:54 PM


-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View LeTurbo's profile


234 posts in 2065 days

#4 posted 05-06-2017 06:03 PM

Thanks finns, Dave and GR8HUNTER. Much appreciated!

View Ivan's profile


14918 posts in 3347 days

#5 posted 05-07-2017 12:11 PM


-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View ChrisK's profile


2034 posts in 3561 days

#6 posted 05-08-2017 11:10 AM

Most excellent work.

-- Chris K

View DDWW's profile


102 posts in 1106 days

#7 posted 05-08-2017 07:03 PM

Too bad the CNC didn’t work out. It was the first thing I thought of when I saw the tree branches.

I can see where the three deeper bookcases would work both structurally and practically with three shallow ones.

I think the branches look great. They are suggestive of natural chaos you’d see in a tree but have a geometric unity that ties them in with the bookcases. I think you could probably spend years trying to improve them and very few tries would be worth the effort.

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