Sculptural plywood coffee table

The first large, finished project out of my workshop, completed a few months ago. Coffee table in baltic birch plywood. Cut on an Avid PRO 5x10 machine.

For more pictures, see

-Matt Flynn


I really like these forms. They’re excellent.

Can you say a little about the process: design, modeling, cutting, alignment, fairing?

Who and what do you look to for inspiration? I’m interested in parametric design, and it looks like you are, too.

Do you know a good supplier for custom tempered glass table tops?

Rhino is used for a very basic form initially, primarily to get the proportions to accurate scale. That block is exported to Gravity Sketch, where I can push/ pull/ twist subDs more easily in virtual reality than on a computer monitor. That subD model is exported back into Rhino, where some NURBS modeling is done to remove the subD kinks and wobbliness. Then Grasshopper is used to slice up, number, and lay out all the pieces. That file is then taken into VCarve, nested, and prepped to cut.

On the Avid, compression bits are used for the roughing. I use a DOWN-cut ballnose for the 3D finish pass, since this is thin-veneer plywood. Up-cut bits seem to snap and splinter the material. All parts are cut double-sided with their tapered edges; not cut with square edges and flat layers stacked together. Gluing is where the most error comes into play. Even using alignment dowels, being 1/32" off in gluing on one layer to another (which can easily be caused by the clamps shifting the pieces) means that both sides have to have the deviation sanded out. It is a lot of sanding.

Although Grasshopper is used, this piece isn’t parametric in its design, but sculpted.

For table tops, try or