Making the Moon

I have actually done a handful of tasks where I've taken a geometric strong like a dodecahedron or an icosahedron and made that shape out of flat parts. Once I had those parts glued together, I would wood turn that into a sphere. I want to continue studying this method. I actually like the idea of including patterns to the parts that comprise the strong before it gets woodturned and after that those patterns appear in the sphere. A different method of considering this that I have wished to work with is to mill a three-dimensional type into those shapes that make up the three-dimensional solid. So one idea I have actually had is to mill the terrain of the into the parts of the strong and when I put the strong together it's not actually the solid shape with sides but a sphere with the surface of the crushed into it.

I required to find out how to map the surface area of the moon onto a dodecahedron. What I required was a height map of the moon mapped onto a dodecahedron. In Mixer you can take a spherical environment image and map that onto a skybox. This is a method used for video gaming to make the surrounding environment for a three-dimensional game. I discovered a tutorial on how to do this. And it appeared that a round environment map is really comparable to a map made from a sphere, i.e. a map of Earth or a map of the moon. I found a tutorial on how to map a round image onto a skybox. So what I wanted to try was to see if I could use this strategy to map a map of the moon onto a dodecahedron? This appeared like it ought to work. And it did. I can change the map of the moon into the map on the 12 pentagons of a dodecahedron. When I had that, I could develop each of the dodecahedron surface designs that I needed to eliminate to construct the moon.

What took a while was to determine was how to divide up a sphere into the 12 pentagons that form a dodecahedron. When I did this I could then take each of those curved pentagons and map the surface area of the moon onto that curved surface. I set up a file in Mixer where I might use a height map that I created from the round picture of the moon onto a curved pentagon. I might then save that design out to a different file, then change the image in Mixer and conserve out a 2nd model and after that a 3rd and a fourth and get all 12. I then brought those models into the camera program and I could establish the to cut each one of those pentagons with the surface of the moon at the right curvature to develop the sphere from the dodecahedron. If that all makes good sense.

I discovered a piece of poplar that I had and that seemed like it would work. I simply went ahead and started to work on a job. At this point. I laid out all of the pentagons so they would fall along the piece of poplar. Each pentagon is different with a different surface area carved into it. What I found is that instead of doing a parallel completing pass where the bit goes back and forth, I can do a spiral finishing pass where the bit starts in the middle and spirals out towards the edge. And what this permits the bit to do is to remain in the exact same direction the entire time. It's doing the completing pass. With the parallel completing pass, it's doing a climbing up cut, then a traditional cut, then a climbing cut, and then a traditional cut. I believe the climbing cut leaves the clean surface area and the standard cut leaves the fuzzy bits.

The next issue after I have the pentagon's cut devoid of the poplar wood is that I need to cut the angle on the rear end of the pentagons so they will fit to form a sphere. When I was doing this with flat pentagons, the edge is uniform in height so it does not matter where the stops are that hold the pentagon in place on the jig on the table saw.

The last issue I came across was that the spring secures I was going to utilize to hold all the pieces together while I glued them together would not hold on to the round shape that I had carved into the pieces. These were not the flat pentagons with the corners that I had been utilized to. This was now trying to hang on to a sphere and it simply wasn't working. I ended up putting biscuits in the joints in between each of the pentagons. This worked very well as I might put the pentagons together and have it be a complete form without any glue.

Passionate CNC:
Creating Cubemap Skybox:

Tools used in this job can be discovered at

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0:00 (intro).
3:00 (tests).
5:51 (cut pentagons).
11:06 (free pentagons).
12:35 (angle pentagons).
13:35 (connect pentagons).
15:04 (conclusion).

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  1. Always love your spherical creations…. Also borrowed your idea about constant rotation in the lathe in order to round out the form. Thanks for these videos!

  2. My first thought on how to solve the alignment problem of the irregular pieces without the border:
    Cut out the pentagons with those angles beforehand and then build a more complicated jig to hold them on the CNC individually.
    Especially with those biscuit slots already cut, that should be possible.

    1. Fastened from below with a screw in the center, oriented with one side against a sacrificial fence.
      Could be incorporated into a jig.

    2. I think it would be enough to have either the whole or part of the stop block in the angle cutting jig at an angle.
      Because the pieces do have a perfectly straight surface you can cut against, the problem is more, that it is not 90° against the table. But since you have the clamps to hold the thing down you should be able to use the already cut sides as a reference.

  3. I think you could cut out a smaller pentagon in the backside as a 1st CNC operation, that way you’d have a reference have the piece being registered on any jig you make just by adding the equivalent of that small cutout as a protruding on your jig

  4. 3D Environment Artist here, cubemaps/spherical projections are still used very frequently in modern games!

    There’s a lot of options for *how* the texture is projected or what kind of object it gets projected on to now compared to the past.

    Regardless of the details, the same basic principle is still a ubiquitous method for skyboxes and many many other use cases like faking reflections or making a fake portal with depth.

    1. I did it in college, I had to make a small game. In my search I discovered it was possible to do with a sphere as well, but I just couldn’t find good images to use. 😬
      I did it in Java with an OpenGL plug-in, something like that, I don’t remember very well… But it was very fun and the game was a city during the night where you controlled a flying saucer and had to abduct people… 😂

    2. It’s worth pointing out that cube-maps and equirectangular ones are completely different ways of mapping a sphere onto a texture.

  5. Really enjoy your mixed analog and digital workflows! Always learning something new from your videos

  6. you set the standard for woodworking videos on youtube imho. I love your whole series of spheres!!

  7. I was just wondering the other day where Frank was? And here he is with another of his amazing sphere projects. To the Moon Frank, to the Moon!

  8. This is a fascinating project to watch, listening to your thoughts on how to make it work and what you would do diffrent later. Your wife idea of using the biscuit jointer to hold the pieces together was grand. 🌚 ❤ Thanks for sharing the audio of the moon landing. I was three years old when it happened but I remember my dad walking with me to the corner gas station where they had a 📺 and with me sitting on his shoulders I got to see it happening. Thank you❤

  9. i think you’re really close to having it perfect! if you cut a matching angle onto the piece of wood on your jig that the moon piece registers against you should be able to get it completely seamless

  10. Problem solving skills are so very important in life. You are a very good problem solver, Frank. Cutting out the pentagrams with the appropriate angles first. Hold them down on the CNC and then cut out your map with little to no seams might work. Maybe use your wife’s idea of the biscuit slots to assist with the hold downs.

  11. Very nice Frank. I always enjoy your videos. I just went back to watch the tomato cage and seedling episodes. So I can get my garden ready for the up coming season. Thanks for shearing.

  12. Frank, as always, your ideas are so fun, and it’s a joy to watch them come to life. This one is no exception, amazing and fun and inspirational! Thanks!

  13. You are indeed a genius at transitioning real world and animated/video world into wood. I love watching your videos, the process of working it out in your mind how to do it as well as the actual work.

  14. Your production quality, cinematography and editing are really quite astonishingly good Frank 🧡

  15. You could cut the back stop of your jig at the same angle as you do the pentagonal pieces – that way the pieces would sit securely against it. You’ll probably need to adjust the side/depth stop between the first two cuts (made against a straight edge) and the remaining cuts (made against angled faces). You might even be able to get both cuts out of one profile – vertical at the bottom to match the uncut faces, sloped back at the top to match the cut faces.

  16. Angle the fence on your pentagon jig to match the cut side and it will sit square I think!

    Always look forward to your next video and can’t wait to watch them when they’re released. Love your storytelling and visual effects. Just a delight to watch. Thank you!

  17. I was thinking before i even watched you create this piece that it would certainly be a candidate for living in a museum. You are one of the most creative wood workers i have ever seen.

  18. As your projects become more complex and computer oriented, I am able to understand less and less of the process, but it has not diminished my enjoyment of watching.

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