Using Digital Fabrication in Your Classroom: Hands-On Projects and Teacher Guides

TJ Christiansen

About TJ:

Before joining ShopBot in 2011, TJ Christiansen taught High School woodworking and welding classes for five years at Ludington High School in northern Michigan. "I grew up building cottages with my father and was also very inspired by my building trades instructor Mr. Certa. These two gave me the big inspiration to keep working with wood and to teach." He started his business Tanglewood Carvings in 2005, designing and building one-of-a-kind furniture and sculpture.

TJ started at ShopBot on the production team. New to CNC equipment, TJ took to the technology instantly and is a huge fan of its potential in classrooms. This has led TJ to design and build projects that teachers, students -- or anyone else with the interest -- can make themselves with inexpensive supplies. TJ is now in charge of the company's training programs and technical video production.

READY-TO-GO PROJECTS

These ready-to-cut projects will get your students excited about the possibilities of making things. Along the way they'll be absorbing the principles of STEM and other subjects that you want to teach. They're road-tested by educators like you, ready for use with your students.

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Arch Bridge

Arch Bridge

Overview: This bridge is a completely self-supporting bridge that holds together without any use of screws or fasteners. This concept dates back to the 1400’s and is a great way to teach history with engineering in mind. The more weight added to the bridge the stronger it becomes, but take away the weight and pull out just one piece and the entire bridge will crumble.

Materials: 3/4” plywood

Minimum Cutting Area: 48” x 48”

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: Either a clear coat or a painted surface makes this project look great.

Project Files:
Arch Bridge Tutorial [Download pdf]
Arch Bridge Teacher Guide [Download pdf]
Arch Bridge Project Files [Download zipped files]

Wooden Knot Puzzle

Wooden Knot Puzzle

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: A great way to turn shop scraps into puzzles fun for all ages, the wooden know puzzle has been around for years, but now can easily be cut with the ShopBot.

Materials: Any type of hardwood or softwood that you have laying around the shop.

Minimum Cutting Area: 4.5” x 11” for small puzzle. 8” by 20” for larger puzzle.

Bit Size: 1/4” for small puzzle. 3/8” for larger puzzle

Finishing: Minwax WipeOn Polyurethane works great for this puzzle because it is easy to wipe in all of the inside corners. It also has a thin coating so it does not interfere with the puzzle sliding together.

Project Files:
Wooden Knot Puzzle Tutorial [Download pdf]
Wooden Knot Puzzle Project Files [Download  zipped files]

Candy Dish

Candy Dish

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: Make a unique candy dish with all the scraps that you have laying around your shop. Find a few different types of wood and rip them into strips, glue them together and cut the candy dish out.

Materials: Try to find woods with different color accents. Stay away from exotic woods that contain harmful oils.

Minimum Cutting Area: 7/8” x 7” x 18”

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: A food grade finish will be appropriate for sealing these boards. Local hardware stores carry these types of finishes.

Project Files:
Candy Dish Tutorial [Download pdf]
Candy Dish Project Files [Download  zipped files]

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Coaster Set

Coaster Set

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: Create a simple 6 pack of coasters and a coaster coral from minimal shop materials. Keep your favorite drink from leaving circles on the coffee table.

Materials: For this example red oak was used for the wood and a vinyl floor tile for the coaster circles. See below for more information.

Minimum Cutting Area: 1/2” x 18” x 24” red oak material. 12” x 12” floor vinyl floor tile.

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: Minwax Wipe On Polyurethane

Project Files:
Coaster Set Tutorial [Download pdf]
Coaster Set Project Files [Download  zipped files]

JigSaw Puzzles

Jigsaw Puzzles

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: Cut a panda bear or a duck puzzle to create hours of entertainment for kids of all ages. The files for these jig saw puzzles allow the user to cut both projects at once using two different types of wood. There are also a set of individual files to cut only one at a time.

Materials: Red Oak and Walnut

Minimum Cutting Area: Each wood species calls for a 16” x 24” area

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: These puzzle parts could end up in a little ones mouth so it is a good idea to use some sort of food grade finish that would not be toxic to people.

Project Files:
Jigsaw Puzzles Tutorial [Download pdf]
Jigsaw Puzzles Project Files [Download  zipped files]

Marble Madness

Marble Madness

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: Create a marble game to keep your family and friends entertained during different gatherings.

Materials: Any wood you can get that is 1.5” thick. Poplar was used for this example. Also one marble 1/2” to 5/8” diameter.

Minimum Cutting Area: 18”x18”

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: The wood is sealed with Minwax Spar Urethane. A bristle brush, foam brush or piece of clean rag make it easy to get down in the grooves to apply a nice coverage. The Plexiglas does not need any finishing.

Project Files:
Marble Madness Tutorial [Download pdf]
Marble Madness Project Files [Download  zipped files]

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Dowel Puzzle Dowel Puzzle

Dowel Puzzle

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: This is a hands on puzzle that has the user thinking which puzzle slice connects to the next using wooden dowels. Each of the 12 pieces are different, and to win every hole on every slice has to be filled with a dowel. Great for kids; however, just as appealing for adults.

Materials: Try to find a piece of wood that has a neat grain pattern, these little pieces will really come to life. For this example beach is used. Material needs to have a thickness of 5/16”. 18” of a 1/2” dowel will be needed.

Minimum Cutting Area: 18” x 12”

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: Minwax wipe on polyurethane is ideal for this project because it covers the faces well and allows one to wipe poly into the holes.

Project Files:
Dowel Puzzle Tutorial [Download pdf]
Dowel Puzzle Project Files [Download  zipped files]

Trivets

Trivets

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: This is a set of three different shaped hot plates. These work great when removing hot items from the stove or oven that need to be placed at a serving area while they are still warm.

Materials: Any 3/4” thick hardwood that is acceptable to warm surfaces. Red Oak is used in the pictures.

Minimum Cutting Area: 10”x10” per trivet

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: A food grade mineral oil or butcher block oil.

Project Files:
Trivets Tutorial [Download pdf]
Trivets Project Files [Download  zipped files]

Sunshine Mirror

Sunshine Mirror

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: Bring a little sunlight into your day every time you look into the mirror. This project is cut from glued up materials or can be cut from plywood and painted to ones liking.

Materials: This example used 2” strips of red oak and walnut.

Minimum Cutting Area: 24” x 24”

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: Minwax Wipe On Polyurethane was used for this example. If this project is going to be cut from plywood and painted a latex paint would be recommended.

Project Files:
Sunshine Mirror Tutorial [Download pdf]
Sunshine Mirror Project Files [Download  zipped files]

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Adjusta Lamp

Adjusta Lamp

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: Construct a lamp that has different vertical heights to accommodate a lamp in different environments. A good project for following steps in order to properly assemble.

Materials: Red Oak

Minimum Cutting Area: .375” thick 20”x20” and a .75” thick 10” x 41”

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: Watco stains will add color to the red oak. Make sure to add a polyurethane over the stain to protect the wood. Follow manufactures directions for specific applications.

Project Files:
Adjusta LampTutorial [Download pdf]
Adjusta Lamp Project Files [Download  zipped files]

Drying Rack

Drying Rack

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: This drying rack pushes flat against the wall and extends out to withstand the weight of wet towels. Great for limited space areas. Simply screw into the studs of the wall and let this rack hang out of the way when not in use.

Materials: 3/4” Baltic Birch Plywood
12– 1/2” dowels 24” long

Minimum Cutting Area: 28”x41”

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: Minwax Wipe On Polyurethane and Minwax Spray Polyurethane

Project Files:
Drying Rack Tutorial [Download pdf]
Drying Rack Project Files [Download  zipped files]

Entry Bench

Entry Bench

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: This bench measures six feet in length to accommodate all the foot traffic coming and going. No screws are needed for assembly. Simply cut, sand, glue, paint and put to use. The file can also be modified to make the bench longer or shorter to accommodate any size room.

Materials: 3/4” furniture grade plywood

Minimum Cutting Area: 4’ x 8’

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: For this example several coats of latex paint were brushed on to give it the desired color.

Project Files:
Entry Bench Tutorial [Download pdf]
Entry Bench Project Files [Download  zipped files]

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Kids Work Table

Kids Work Table

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: This simple file creates a neat table for small children to use for multiple purposes. Weather drawing with crayons, putting puzzles together or having an afternoon snack this work table is strong and solid. If desired this project can be modified to a longer or deeper size.

Materials: 3/4” furniture grade plywood

Minimum Cutting Area: 4’ x 8’

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: Remember children will be working on this table so check with your local paint supplier to find one safe for children. A latex based paint was used for this example.

Project Files:
Kids Work Table Tutorial [Download pdf]
Kids Work Table Project Files [Download  zipped files]

Piece by Piece Basket

Piece by Piece Basket

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: This basket is built using 123 identical pieces, plus one base piece. It is built in layers that cascade down to a single piece. This basket makes a great decorative piece in any home or office.

Materials: For this example Baltic birch plywood is used; however, an alternating pattern of light wood and dark wood make this basket very attractive.

Minimum Cutting Area: 24” x 48”

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: It is best to finish this project with a spray on polyurethane after the project has been assembled

Project Files:
Piece by Piece Basket Tutorial [Download pdf]
Piece by Piece Basket Project Files [Download  zipped files]

Scissor Stool Scissor Stool

Scissor Stool

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: This stool folds flat for storage and carrying around. The dimensions of it can be increased or decreased to make this a stool, table, foot rest, etc.

Materials: This file is written for .70 thick Baltic birch plywood. To modify the file for thicker wood simply increase the width of the pockets. 5/8” dowel. One 8.5” long; two 1 1/16” long and two 7/8” long”

Minimum Cutting Area: 25” x 26”

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: If the stool is going to be kept indoors simply rub all the pieces with a Minwax WipeOn Poly before assembling the stool. If it is going to go outdoors use Minwax SparUrathane and coat all pieces before assembly.

Project Files:
Scissor Stool Tutorial [Download pdf]
Scissor Stool Project Files [Download  zipped files]
Scissor Stool Assembly Videos [Download zipped files]

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Bistro Set

Bistro Set

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: This is a set of four stools and one table that create a complete bistro set. Works great both indoors and out. By removing only a couple screws the entire project comes apart and can be stored flat when not in use.

Materials: Two sheets of 4’x8’ plywood

Minimum Cutting Area: 4’x8’

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: These can be painted or stained for interior or exterior use. For this example one color was used on all of the table tops and foot rest while another color made up all the legs.

Project Files:
Bistro Set Tutorial [Download pdf]
Bistro Set Project Files [Download  zipped files]

Collectors Basket

Collectors Basket

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: Whether you need a place to pile up your old magazines or a collect-all for children's toys, this basket is easy to fill up and move around. It is held together with mortise and tenon joints making it very strong so one can load it up with a lot of weight if needed.

Materials: This file is written for .70 thick Baltic birch plywood. To modify the file for thicker wood simply increase the width of the pockets.

Minimum Cutting Area: 24” x 48”

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: It is very difficult to get a finish in between the slats, so finishing with a wipe on polyurethane or a brush to each piece before assembly makes for a better process.

Project Files:
Collectors Basket Tutorial [Download pdf]
Collectors Basket Project Files [Download  zipped files]

Tic Tac Toe

Tic Tac Toe Game

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: Round up miscellaneous scrap wood around your shop and turn it into this fun for all ages classic Tic Tac Toe game.

Materials: Something dark for the “O”s (walnut used here) something reddish in color for the “X”s (red oak used here) and something to contract the colors for the game board(maple used here)

Minimum Cutting Area: 32”x18” overall or see example for using multiple pieces

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: Watco stain on the X’s, Minwax wipe-on poly for the O’s and game board.

Project Files:
Tic Tac Toe Game Tutorial [Download pdf]
Tic Tac Toe Game Project Files [Download  zipped files]

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Two Stepper

Two Stepper

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: It sure is a pain trying to reach the top shelves of kitchen or pantry cabinets. Instead of storing a fold up ladder in a already full closet, why not add a decorative step stool to your home décor. This two step stool allows you to reach the top shelf.

Materials: Red Oak

Minimum Cutting Area: 38”x42”

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: Watco Danish Oil is a great stain to use to bring out the color in the oak. Then cover with Minwax WipeOn Polyurethane.

Project Files:
Two Stepper Tutorial [Download pdf]
Two Stepper Project Files [Download  zipped files]

Shop Steps

Shop Steps

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: These are heavy duty steps that work great around the home and in the shop. They can be used individually as steps, or a plank can be placed between them and they can be used as a catwalk.

Materials: 3/4” plywood. These steps can be furniture grade or just by regular flooring plywood if you do not care about appearance.

Minimum Cutting Area: 4’ x 8’ (cuts three of these)

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: they can be left bare if they will stay inside, or put some polyurethane on them if you plan on standing on them with wet boots.

Project Files:
Shop Steps Tutorial [Download pdf]
Shop Steps Project Files [Download  zipped files]

Coin Bank

Coin Bank

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: Coin banks are fun to look at and a great way to teach youngsters to start saving their pennies!! This easy to cut and easy to assemble project is a great addition to a child's bedroom.

Materials: This example was cut by taking a 2”x6” from Lowes and glued up into a rectangle. A scrap piece of Plexiglas for the 6” circles.

Minimum Cutting Area: 1.5” x 18” x 24” Note the material is 1.5” thick so one needs to pay attention how much bit they have sticking out of their collet so they do not run their router into the table.

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: Paint

Project Files:
Coin Bank Tutorial [Download pdf]
Coin Bank Project Files [Download  zipped files]

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Bull

Bull using 123D Make by Autodesk   

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: Autodesk has created several software's free to use at http://www.123dapp.com/ Using 123D Make users can take any 3d image, slice it into pieces, cut it on the ShopBot then glue it back together as a 3D model. By following these plans other models can be done in the same set of directions as the bull has been created.

Materials: .4” plywood

Minimum Cutting Area: 4’ x 8’

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: Spray paint to the color of ones choosing.

Project Files:
Bull Tutorial [Download pdf]
Bull Project Files [Download  zipped files]

Strength Crusher

Strength Crusher

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: Teach your students to design and engineer the strongest pillar they can within a 4” x 4” x 44” size. Use these plans to cut and build the crushing module. Then apply weight to the crusher to see who has the strongest structure before it crushes to pieces. A great way to incorporate science, technology, engineering and mathematics to your program.

Materials: 3/4” Plywood

Minimum Cutting Area: 4’ x 8’

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: Spray the entire project with a clear polyurethane. This will protect the wood and prolong the life of your crusher.

Project Files:
Strength Crusher Tutorial [Download pdf]
Strength Crusher Project Files [Download  zipped files]

Block and Tackle

Block and Tackle   

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: Introduction to adding two or more pulleys to the same given weight. This creates a mechanical advantage that can be useful for rigging and other applications. Here are four examples of rigging methods that can be used as a mechanical advantage.

Materials: 3/4” plywood, 1/4” lag bots, 1/4” eye bolts, 4 weights, 24” of 1/2” dowel

Minimum Cutting Area: 36” x 48”

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: A clear coat or polyurethane over all of the wooden materials.

Project Files:
Block and Tackle Tutorial [Download pdf]
Block and Tackle Project Files [Download  zipped files]

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Patio Chair

Patio Chair

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: Assemble this chair with nothing more than a rubber mallet and a bottle of glue. This chair folds up for easy storage and transportation to ones favorite beach or camping location.

Materials: Exterior grade plywood 3/4”

Minimum Cutting Area: 48” x 48”

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: Most people use this chair outdoors so Minwax SparUrathane is recommended for this project. Or for the end users who want to paint these to match their porch deco will should use an exterior latex based paint. Easy to apply and cleanup.

Project Files:
Patio Chair Tutorial [Download pdf]
Patio Chair Project Files [Download  zipped files]

Desk Chair

Desk Chair   

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: This chair not only has the eye appeal but the comfort appeal. Sit at your desk in style knowing you have a sleek, comfortable chair to sit on. Only two different size parts make up the entire project layout.

Materials: The included files were cut on furniture grade Baltic Birch plywood which measures .690 in thickness. Using a different thickness plywood will require adjustments in the file for the mortise thicknesses.

Minimum Cutting Area: 53” x 48”

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: Spray or WipeOn Polyurathane

Project Files:
Desk Chair Tutorial [Download pdf]
Desk Chair Project Files [Download  zipped files]

Lazy Susan Tower Lazy Susan Tower

Lazy Susan Tower

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: This rotating lazy susan is perfect for the kitchen counter top. No more going through cabinets for the right utensil or spice. Keep everything handy on this lazy susan tower right in the center of your kitchen.

Materials: Red Oak wood, 8” Lazy Susan hardware, 30” of 1/2” dowel

Minimum Cutting Area: 13” x 60”

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: A Watco medium color stain to give the red oak some color. Then several coats of Minwax Wipe On Polyurethane to seal the wood.

Project Files:
Lazy Susan Tower Tutorial [Download pdf]
Lazy Susan Towe Project Files [Download  zipped files]

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Lighted Shelf

Lighted Shelf

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: Create a shelf that can illuminate whatever decorations are placed on top of it. A store bought rope light can be installed or get creative and build your own LED light string. LED light string plans are available on different internet sites.

Materials: Appx 5 sq. feet. A 2”x8” that is six feet long will work fine for this project

Minimum Cutting Area: 10” x 72”

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: Most hardwoods will finish best with a stain and polyurethane. This example was cut from a piece of pine and painted.

Project Files:
Lighted Shelf Tutorial [Download pdf]
Lighted Shelf Project Files [Download  zipped files]

Towel Hoop

Towel Hoop

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: This project makes great use of left over material around the shop. It can be a mix and match of different pieces of wood since it will all get covered with paint. These are very convenient to have in tight areas.

Materials: 3/4” Plywood, 2 - 1/4” x1” dowels

Minimum Cutting Area: .7” x 8.5” x 20”

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: To give the plywood a textured effect Rustolium hammered spray paint is used. Silver on the hoop and Bronze on the back piece.

Project Files:
Towel Hoop Tutorial [Download pdf]
Towel Hoop Project Files [Download  zipped files]

Magazine Rack

"The Reader" Magazine Rack

Stow your magazines with “The Reader” Magazine Rack! You can even customize the magazine front and back cover text with your own wording using Aspire 3’s handy Text Tool and Distort Between Two Curves option. By also utilizing the “Project toolpath onto 3D model” option in the V-carve/Engraving Toolpath menu, the v-carved text conforms seamlessly over the contours of the magazine.

 The overall finished dimensions of the rack are about 18½ "w x 13¼ "h x 9¼ " d.

It was modeled in Aspire 3 and cut on a ShopBot Buddy® PRSalpha 48.

The Aspire file is available from the Vectric website -  "The Reader" Magazine Rack Project

"The Reader" Magazine Rack Project Tutorial [Download pdf]

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Washer Toss

Washer Toss

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: 3 Hole Washers is just as popular as the corn hole games across the country. The beauty of this game is that washers are a lot easier to obtain for a small price and instead of one hole for points this game has three holes. Washerpayers. net has all of the rules and regulations to this game and can be enjoyed by all ages.

Materials: 1/2” plywood, rope, 6- 2 1/2” OD washers

Minimum Cutting Area: 4’ x 8’

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: Carpeting the entire project is encouraged by most washer toss enthusiast; however, a simple paint job will bring the game to life.

Project Files:
Washer Toss Tutorial [Download pdf]
Washer Toss Project Files [Download  zipped files]

Trebuchet

Trebuchet

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: This medieval launcher would reek havoc on enemies castles. However, the modern day conversion using 20lbs of weight will easily through a tennis ball the length of a gymnasium. Teach students about history, trajectory, mathematics, etc. Enjoy.

Materials:3/4” plywood, 2’ of 5/8” threaded rod, 3’ of 1 1’8” dowel, 12 1/4” dowel pins

Minimum Cutting Area: 2 sheets of plywood that measure 4’ x 8’

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing:Spray paint works great to accent the gussets. A polyurethane coating will cover all of the natural wood and seal it up.

Project Files:
Trebuchet Tutorial [Download pdf]
Trebuchet Project Files [Download  zipped files]

Combination Lock

Combination Lock   

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: How many times a day does the average student open and shut their locker? Each time they have to turn their combination lock back and forth to open their locker. This project helps understand the mechanics that go into basic locksmithing.

Materials: 1/2” plywood, 96” of 1/2” dowel and 2’ of 5/16” dowel

Minimum Cutting Area: 31” x 34”

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: Finish all of the outside parts with a polyurethane and grease all of the internal moving parts   

Project Files:
Combination Lock Tutorial [Download pdf]
Combination Lock Project Files [Download  zipped files]

Wooden Jack

Wooden Jack   

Designed for ShopBot by TJ Christiansen

Overview: This wooden example of a jack is used to demonstrate how the rotating of a crank can rotate gears and in turn move a rack up and down; raising and lowering the toothed rack. A beginner project to help understand gears to move into larger and more complicated gearing projects.

Materials: 3/4” plywood, 6” of 5/8” dowel

Minimum Cutting Area: 39” x 48”

Bit Size: 1/4”

Finishing: Using a spray polyurethane works best for getting inside the gears. This can also be sprayed over all of the other parts before assembly has taken place. Also consider painting parts different colors

Project Files:
Wooden Jack Tutorial [Download pdf]
Wooden Jack Project Files [Download  zipped files]

View more Ready-To-Go Projects Submit a Project

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