Making 3D letterforms from MDF
As part of a series of projects designed to broaden our skills, we had to make 3D typographic letters from Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF). Our group had to create the word 'Explore' so we each made a letter, I created the 'R'. One of the great things about UAL's Chelsea campus is the amazing workshop facilities. As I had not worked in a wood workshop for a few years it was great to get back into it and create a physical, tangible piece of design, instead of something digital.
When cutting my letter I used several different saws to cut around the edge of the letter. I used a pillar drill and saw to remove the island from the 'R', and a variety of sanders, files and sandpaper to smoothen and shape all of the edges. I chose to make the letter 'R' because I knew it would be more challenging compared to something such as the letter 'L'.
At one point I cut too far into a piece of wood, however I was able to smoothen out the mark by sanding it down. As digital designers you become so used to clicking 'undo' if something goes wrong, but you can't 'undo' a woodwork mistake meaning I had to consistently show precision and accuracy when cutting. This made it especially rewarding when all the edges were cut.
This exercise worked really well as it was a nice way to get us to explore the machinery and tools. As we weren't overly ambitious with the scale and complexity of the letterforms, we were able to execute the cutting and shaping really well. If I was doing it again I would create larger letters next time to make it a bit more challenging.
This activity really was an eyeopener for me as it reminded me how much I loved working in the workshop and creating physical items. Over the course of my degree I am going to make the most of this facility as it has been one of my favourite days on the course so far.