[help] how to make wood squares - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 02-21-2017, 06:28 AM Thread Starter
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[help] how to make wood squares


I want to make a piece of wood like that in the picture made of several square holes (edges can be a bit round). I've searched a lot and I've seen mortises, chisels, routers, fancy drill bits and really don't know what would be the best way to do it.
A drill bench can't be used because of the large size of the piece. It doesn't have enough clearance. Also there isn't mortise large enough for the hole size ((about 5cm) but maybe I could make 4 holes for the square corners?). I don't have much experience but I've time and I'm committed. I just want it to be perfect or that I don't do any mistake (cutting to much and ruining the piece). So I'm asking what is the best way to do it. What tools should I use.
Can someone help me please? Thank you.
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post #2 of 28 Old 02-21-2017, 06:33 AM
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Does this "piece" have to be one body? Or can it be made of strips of wood glued together.

The latter would be far simpler.

George
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post #3 of 28 Old 02-21-2017, 06:40 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeC View Post
Does this "piece" have to be one body? Or can it be made of strips of wood glued together.

The latter would be far simpler.

George
thank you
yes, it has to be one body. just a single piece of wood with square holes on it. holes have to be hollow.
hole dimension is about 4-5cm . the piece has about 36cm hight and and 75cm in lenght. (size is a bit flexible)
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post #4 of 28 Old 02-21-2017, 08:35 AM
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I'll ask. What is this supposed to be?

If I made that, I would cut narrow strips, then put them together with half lap joints.

If you really need it to be made of one solid block of wood, you'll have to drill and chisel, or have a CNC cut it.
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post #5 of 28 Old 02-21-2017, 09:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riskinhos View Post
thank you
yes, it has to be one body. just a single piece of wood with square holes on it. holes have to be hollow.
hole dimension is about 4-5cm . the piece has about 36cm hight and and 75cm in lenght. (size is a bit flexible)
You said the hole diminsion is 4-5cm, but what is the depth?
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post #6 of 28 Old 02-21-2017, 09:48 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanchez View Post
I'll ask. What is this supposed to be?

If I made that, I would cut narrow strips, then put them together with half lap joints.

If you really need it to be made of one solid block of wood, you'll have to drill and chisel, or have a CNC cut it.
it's for a school project.
a CNC might be a good idea but I've no clue about the cost of such a service. I even have a 3D file of the object. maybe someone can tell me?
drill and chisel yes I get that. but what kind of drill and what kind of chisel? that's what I need to know...
I've looked at broachs, mortises, files, rasps, chisels, punches, square router bit etc etc. and how do I make sure it's aligned correctly?

Quote:
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You said the hole diminsion is 4-5cm, but what is the depth?
about 2cm

Last edited by riskinhos; 02-21-2017 at 09:59 AM.
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post #7 of 28 Old 02-21-2017, 01:43 PM
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Hi riskinhos -

bunch more thought needs to go into this project. with 8 x 6 cells, 75 x 36 overall dimensions, the thickness of the wood between the cells (of 4-5 size...) is 38.9mm to 47.8 mm horizontally (8 cell direction) and 8.6 or 17.1 mm vertically (6 cell direction)

I tried putting 8 cells in the short dimension and 6 cells in the long dimension and that makes this worse - to the point that 8 - 50mm cells in 360 mm overall gives you a -4.4 mm cell wall thickness.

do these cells go all the way through the plank? or are they "pockets" in a thick plank?

any which way you cut it - this is going to be a fragile item when cut from a single chunk of wood. thin cell/pocket walls with the cross grain will very likely dry&crack and eventually break out.

if this is supposed to be a smooth finish piece there's little modern option than to use a very hard, perfectly seasoned, close grain wood that machines well - on a CNC router. and I'd hazard to say it's got less than a 50% chance of staying intact.

manually you could drill round holes and use chisels to square the corners. you'll need an "end mill" type drill bit if you want a smooth bottom. a drill press and sturdy guides/fences plus uber super critical set-up is required. can be done - plan on at least 2-3 're-do from start' before you get it perfect.

sorry if this seems over critical - but what you've sketched and described is not a real simple thing to execute with little experience and a few hand tools.

the cost of a CNC approach depends on where you are and whether you can sweet-talk the shop into 'support your local school' type of cooperation.
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post #8 of 28 Old 02-22-2017, 05:12 AM Thread Starter
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dimensions will be about 720x350x25mm. holes are about 4-5cm it's a bit flexible. holes are hollow, they go all the way through.
the draw is just an example but it will have about 100 holes.
wall thickness is about 5mm. I can increase it to about 15mm.
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post #9 of 28 Old 02-22-2017, 08:26 AM Thread Starter
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post #10 of 28 Old 02-22-2017, 09:48 AM
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I have a collection of power tools and hand tools and near 50 years of doing home style wood projects - there is no way I would attempt to manually cut 100 holes like that. for example I have a manually cranked X-Y table I mount on a drill press for smaller tasks - your overall dimensions put you into b-i-g machinery mode; nothing likely to be found in the hobby home shop.

if neatness counts, a CNC router will get you there.

other items to consider:
- finding one solid chunk of wood that size will be tricky - and if you find a chunk that size it will very likely warp/distort when you cut that much out of it.

- a wall thickness of 5 mm is almost certain to break along the grain of solid wood - whether it is one massive piece or glued up for width. if sawn or drilled out, just sanding the interior of a 5 mm wall would be risky, the vibration from a high speed cutting tool is also a big risk so even with a CNC router you will have to make extremely light/thin cuts.

- you may want to consider gluing up some high quality marine grade (i.e. no voids) plywood for maximum omni-directional strength.
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post #11 of 28 Old 02-22-2017, 02:43 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomCT2 View Post
I have a collection of power tools and hand tools and near 50 years of doing home style wood projects - there is no way I would attempt to manually cut 100 holes like that. for example I have a manually cranked X-Y table I mount on a drill press for smaller tasks - your overall dimensions put you into b-i-g machinery mode; nothing likely to be found in the hobby home shop.

if neatness counts, a CNC router will get you there.

other items to consider:
- finding one solid chunk of wood that size will be tricky - and if you find a chunk that size it will very likely warp/distort when you cut that much out of it.

- a wall thickness of 5 mm is almost certain to break along the grain of solid wood - whether it is one massive piece or glued up for width. if sawn or drilled out, just sanding the interior of a 5 mm wall would be risky, the vibration from a high speed cutting tool is also a big risk so even with a CNC router you will have to make extremely light/thin cuts.

- you may want to consider gluing up some high quality marine grade (i.e. no voids) plywood for maximum omni-directional strength.
thank you very much. everyone is so helpful around here. it clearly gives me an idea of the task ahead.

I don't mind manually drilling 100 holes. I know it's something that will take lots of time and effort. That's not the issue.
CNC is a good idea I'm searching around to find what companies can do it and the costs evolved (anyone has an idea about it).
I'm ofc concerned that it can break. That's the major problem. 5mm is not a lot. But what about 15mm? would that work?
A solid chunk of wood of that size is hard to find. Yes it is because it was hard to find one. I've a piece of 750x350x2.25mm of exotic wood.
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post #12 of 28 Old 02-22-2017, 03:57 PM
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I agree with Tom that this is a 'wise men fear to tread' situation, and in addition that the CNC shop I work with would not touch this for fear of it blowing up in the machine. Just holding it rigid is a question.
But, it's an interesting thought experiment.
OK, if I had to do this I would draw it in CAD and send the file away to PONOKO and have them laser cut it out of something 6.5mm and stiff. Or maybe have it waterjet out of 1/4" aluminum, but that is more money.
Then, I would clamp the resulting template/pattern to the wood, then drill out by hand with a sharp 1.5" spade bit each square. I would finish with a top bearing flush router bit.
At that point I would make the weak 'bars' stronger by soaking zap-a-gap or some less expensive CA glue, thus converting them to fiber reinforced plastic. I think repairing the blow-outs would be required at this stage also.

someone has to have a better idea than this one.
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post #13 of 28 Old 02-22-2017, 06:43 PM
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well, here's an approach - drill four ten mm holes in the corners, then a 50mm hole in the middle.
that's 500 holes - all drilled perfectly perpendicular / normal to the surface.

that leaves some "ears" projecting about 5 mm. you could set up a straight edge and nibble them back with a jigsaw - minimizing the eventual chisel slicing and finishing.

pounding on a chisel will almost certain crush the wood fibers - it's gonna' be all hand work - push and slide to slice it clean. you'll need a darn sharp chisel and a way to keep it sharp.

earlier you mentioned 2 cm deep, your exotic wood stock is 2.25 mm? the thickness is going to make a huge difference in effort and exact drilling requirements.
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post #14 of 28 Old 02-22-2017, 06:51 PM
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There has been a lot written about how this really is an impracticable project.

On the other hand we have never been told just what type of school project this is and just why it has to be one solid piece. This ;information may help people arrive at reasonable solution(s).

George
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post #15 of 28 Old 02-22-2017, 07:17 PM
where's my table saw?
 
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more free advice ...

This project should NOT be made from wood. It's too fragile and will crack and split along grain lines. Aluminum or plastic would work, but not wood. It looks like a grill on a air conditioner or some such thing and they are molded in plastic.

If you can find a CNC shop to do it, don't make it from wood for reasons stated above. It may be beyond the means of a student...?


Your title is misleading. You should say help is needed to make square holes ... not squares.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 02-22-2017 at 07:19 PM.
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post #16 of 28 Old 02-22-2017, 09:26 PM
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You may get away with a hollow mortising chisel and bit if you settle for a 1" square hole, still will be tricky with a narrow wall between the holes.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something -Plato

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post #17 of 28 Old 02-23-2017, 07:05 AM Thread Starter
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so against all advices I'll attempt to do it. I won't learn anything if I don't try :p

what tools should I use?
square hole punch:

square mortise chisel:

corner chisel:

corner chisel 2:

square file:

square rasp:

square broach:
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post #18 of 28 Old 02-23-2017, 08:11 AM
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Here's why it won't work .....

A chisel of any type requires that you "force" it into the material, in this case "wood". Wood has directional grain which is present when it grew on the tree it came from ... unless it's a man made material like MDF. When you have enough force needed to "shear" away the material/wood, you also risk the material remaining will also crush, shear or split along the grain lines. It's too thin, too fragile. It won't work. :frown2:

A rotary cutter, like a router bit, requires only enough force/spinning power to remove small amounts of material each time the cutter rotates. This is less risky to the surrounding material. A CNC machine could be programed to make the "square holes". It may be expensive and beyond you budget, I donno?

A 1" mortising chisel will also cost a considerable amount and will be difficult to "force" into the material/wood without a very large press, or hollow chisel mortising machine. This operation you are describing is "material removal" much like drilling a hole. The problem is you can't drill a square hole without a very specialized machine.

The tool you show in the bottom photo is a "broach" used in metal machining. It will not work in wood because of the force needed and the fragile material surrounding it. It will break the thin surrounding material.

If you want to try this ... :frown2: make an accurate drawing having 4 of the squares on some wood, maybe Pine or other soft wood. Then accurately cut and chisel right up to the lines and see how well it works. The reason you asked on this forum was to get "good" advice from woodworkers with experience. If you chose to ignore it, that's your choice.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #19 of 28 Old 02-23-2017, 09:06 AM
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A sharp drill to get each hole made, then a good wood file to shape each corner.

There will be no easy, quick way to do this. It's going to take time and patience, or forget it.
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post #20 of 28 Old 02-23-2017, 09:46 AM
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Given how thin the wood is, chisels are not a great choice along the grain. Here's what I'd do.

1) Build a pair of forms out of aluminum. Make them so they go side to side on the board, and cover at least two rows.

2) Clamp the forms to the board, making sure they line up with each other.

3) Drill out the openings with the largest bit you can safely fit inside the openings of the form.

4) Use a very sharp chisel to clean out the end grain sides of each hole, and a small file to clean up the long grain sides. Or just use a file for everything.

5) Move the form down, and start again.

In theory, the form should reduce the odds of the wood splitting or breaking out, IF you clamp it tight enough. Having each hole supported all the way around on both sides will both help in keeping the holes even, and give the wood support while you're working it with a chisel or file. It's still going to be tricky, and I'd still expect it to break if the humidity changes too much, but it might be doable.

Why does it need to be a single piece?
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