Make Architecture



04b – Shopbot: Breakfast in bed

“If you think it was difficult to assemble, try taking it apart!”

Summer is coming and it is extremely important to be prepared. Good planning means being prepared for any eventuality, including the possibility of breakfast in bed. This exercise will be part of that preparation and will involve the design and construction of a small breakfast-in-bed table.

The secondary aim of this project was to become familiar with the basic operations of the shopbot by cutting and assembling a wood table.

To do this project you will need:


  1. Prepare the design
  2. Prepare the file
  3. Cut the table
  4. Assembly

1.Prepare the design

Requirements for the table was that it should be sturdy enough to support breakfast plates or a laptop as well as have a separate platform for a coffee cup. A secondary requirement was a slot for magazines. The table was designed in Rhino and exported as a dxf. While the nominal thickness of the material was 0.5 inches the real thickness was 0.46 inhes. This was taken into account when the friction tabs were designed.

2. Prepare the file

The file was prepared in Partworks by adding fillets to ensure that the corners are cut correctly. After this the tool paths were created. Two toolpaths were created, the profile path which was used to cut the various pieces and  the pocket path used to create the pocket for holding the cups. The shopbot speed was set at 12000 rpm with a feed speed of 100 inch/min and a plunge speed of 30 inch/min.

3. Cut the table

After screwing the material to the bed the shopbot was zeroed and the pocket path was cut. After this the pocket path was cut.

4. Assembly

Assembly was, with the exception of a few pieces, relatively easy. The joints were designed as fiction fit joints and pieces were hammered into places with a rubber mallet. In order to flip the cantilevered piece it had to be loosened by using a wooden wedge.

The geometry of the three supports for the cantilever were such that the joints were too tight. Only one support was inserted and the secondary holes plugged with 1/2 inch plugs.


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Instructor: Nick Gelpi TA: Skylar Tibbits TA: Varvara Toulkeridou
Class Times, Monday, 1-4pm - room 5-216
4.184 is an intensive introduction to methods of making explored through a wide range of brief but focused 1-week exercises. We'll engage the real and leave behind representation in the focused context of this class gaining skills for utilizing a range of fabrication machines and technologies from lasercutting, waterjet, 3D printing, welding, formworking-molding, casting, gears, joints and composites.
In this workshop we'll constrain ourselves to the territory of the 1:1. Students will represent architectural constructions at full scale and develop a more intimate relationship with technology by engaging the tools and techniques that empower us. We will gain access to the most cutting edge machines and technologies in the MARS lab at the Center for Bits and Atoms.
The second layer of information for this course will be to look at a series of case studies in which construction methods and technologies have played a dominant role in the design process .
Over the past 20 years, architects have focused on the technology of representation to create new ideas of what architecture could be. Looking back today, much of that research failed to substantially change the way we design buildings by focusing on apriori formal configurations. This class makes the contention that this failure comes from a lack of considerations of the potentials within fabrication knowledge. We look to the future of what building might become, given the expanded palette of personalize-able technologies available to us as architects. Students will participate in curious technological and material investigations, to discover the potentials, known and unknown, for these various technologies.
The sub-disciplines of what's drawn and what's built have been compartmentalized and disassociated as the representational tools of architecture have distanced themselves from the techniques of making. At the same time the technologies for “making” in architecture have provided us with new possibilities for reinventing how we translate into reality, the immaterial representations of architecture.


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