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

John Whitehead


       This 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 each of the five different sized squares. After the pieces were cut to precise miters, they were glued and assembled in the jig. I then carefully pin nailed the corners.

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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 were isosceles triangle and not equilateral, 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 pyramid was 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 started out as long strips of wood cut and planed to specified dimensions. They were made of alternating species of wood as per the original design. Then they were glued together to form long stepped strips.

       Once the glue dried, they were cut to appropriate lengths and then cut roughly to size on the band saw.

       I took them to the disc sander and sanded them to finish size. Finally, I assembled the insert components and placed them on the metal plates that were powder coated in a semi-glossed black color.



       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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