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Building the Wooden Components for
"The Numen of Wood" Sculpture

John Whitehead


       This African-influence geometric abstract sculpture consists of three wooden components: 1) Four stepped octahedrons; 2) ten wooden stepped motifs (inserted into five metal cubes); and 3) a stepped wooden base. All three components were made from woodworking power and hand tools. My selection of two species of wood (mahogany and walnut) was influenced by advice I received from Carlos Nevarez, Foreman Emeritus - Berkeley Mills.


    I started by milling the wood strips in the two selected species of wood. I had to calculate each wooden strip to an exact measured thickness.


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    To achieve precise measurements and to avoid any possible cumulative error, I had to mill each wooden strip by using a micrometer.

    I made precise jigs for different sized wooden strips to form five different sized squares. After the squares were cut to precise miter they were glued and assembled in the appropriate sized jigs. I then carefully pin-nailed the corners of the five formed square strips. 

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       The jigs were used to keep the pieces square and flat long enough for the glue to set.

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       After the squares came out of the jigs, they were piled in stacks according to size. Subsequently, I placed one square on top of the other to form the steps and assemble them.


     Next came the construction of pyramids to put on the top and bottom ends of the glued stepped assemblies. To begin, I had to calculate the precise angles of the sides of the pyramids since they are isosceles and not equilateral triangles (and obviously different). The different angles meant the construction of each pyramid required my using three different angle settings on my table saw. After the pyramids were constructed, they were glued and attached to the ends of the glued assemblies to form half- octahedrons. Finally, pairs of the half- octahedrons were combined and glued together to form our four stylized octahedrons.

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The inserts were developed from long strips of mahogany and walnut wood. After these strips were cut and planed to specified dimensions, they were glued together to form long stepped strips as shown in the left photo image.

The glued stepped strips were further cut to a specified range of lengths and rounded sizes on my band saw to form individual inserts as shown in the left photo image.

I then placed the roughly formed inserts on a disc sander and sanded them to a finish size. Finally, I assembled the insert components and placed them on black powder coated metal plates.



       The base was made in a similar fashion as the stepped pyramids, except that its individual pieces are thicker and wider. The wooden component I made was sandwiched between two metal powder coated motifs.

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