If you spend any time around Pinterest or Etsy, then you probably ran across a few vases made up of some thin wood and a test tube. I got an opportunity to create a design that uses Corian as one of the main materials, and I felt it would look awesome as part of a test tube vase.
One thing I must say is, Corian is a pretty freaking sweet material! It mills great, sands smooth, and feels like no other plastic in your hands. Plus, it sounds a whole lot better to be able to say, " my product is made with Corian" instead of saying, “it’s made with some mumble plastic cough stuff.”
See!!! Much better.
If you want to follow along and make one yourself you will need:
•One piece of Corian (150mm x 250mm x 6.35mm)
•One piece of bamboo plywood (150mm x 150mm x 6.35mm)
•One glass test tube (25mm diameter x 150mm long)
•One carbide two flute straight end mill.
I drew the cad design up in Inkscape. It seems like a very simple design, but the shape of the Corian and bamboo parts are made by combining several separate shapes into one shape. This is accomplished with the functions found under the path menu in Inkscape – primarily the difference and union functions.
The two most important measurements to keep in mind is the diameter of the test tube and the thickness of the materials making up the holder. I found that there was a bit of a difference between the three test tubes I had. They’re supposed to be 25 mm in diameter, but two of them were slightly smaller and the other slightly larger. I also found that the bamboo and the Corian were both slightly thicker than 1/4 inch. Since I wanted a very snug fit, I opted to make the design a bit on the small side, so that I could sand the finished pieces to their final dimensions.
After I was happy with everything, I simply saved both design files as SVGs and uploaded them to easel.
You can find the easel project links below:
Test Tube Vase: Corian Part
I don’t have a lot of experience with milling plastics, but Corian is surprisingly easy for the machine to mill. I feel that I was a bit conservative in my settings, but one of the biggest things I was trying to avoid was heat. There is no way that I wanted the Corian to fuse up on the bit. It’s because of this that I chose to use a moderately fast feed rate along with a very conservative Pass depth. Overall, I’m happy with the results. The Corian cut into decent size little chips, and never threatened to melt down into a glob.
One thing I’d highly recommend is to get a dust shoe. Otherwise, you are going to have a lot of little, white plastic bits stuck to everything.
Another important thing to keep in mind, is to ensure the material is cut all the way through. I found that when the Corian is thin it doesn’t cut with a knife or chisel very well. Instead, it breaks and chips off in unexpected ways.
To mill out the Corian I used a straight two flute end mill and the following speeds and feeds.
•Pass depth 0.5mm
Unlike Corian, I mill quite a lot of bamboo on my machine, so I was fairly confident of what settings I wanted to use while cutting it.
I have always found Bamboo to be fairly easy to cut and a reliable material to mill. One thing that I will point out is that some bamboo that I have cut on my machine milled with a very clean edge, but other times the bamboo fibers don’t cut as clean. In the latter cases, I highly recommend that you do not try ripping off any of these. Instead, get a big piece of sandpaper, and sand both the edges and the two sides until everything is all cleaned up. It doesn’t always work, but I found that it does a really good job most of the time.
To mill the bamboo component I used the same straight two flute end mill with the following speeds and feeds.
•pass depth 1.5mm
To finish up the parts, I first had to cut the tabs off of the pieces. For the bamboo part, I used a small chisel, and for the Corian, I ended up using a dremel cut off wheel.
Then I just used 150 grit sandpaper to cleanup all the rough edges, and finished with 320 grit sandpaper. A side note, I was very surprised how well the Corian Sanded. When sanding it the particles coming off of the Corian look like a fine dust, and doesn’t gum up the sandpaper too much.
The Bamboo and Corian fit together well after a minor amount of sanding. To make sure that the test tube fit snugly, I ran it up and down in the slot and sanded any spots where the test tube didn’t fit. Pro tip: don’t sand too much without checking.
The final thing I had to do before assembly was apply a coat of mineral oil to the bamboo piece. I applied a healthy amount, waited 20 minutes, cleaned off the excess, and repeated for the other side.
Assembly was a breeze, it went as follows:
1) Slot bamboo component into Corian component.
2) Place test tube in the now complete Corian and bamboo holder.
3) Quickly run outside and find whatever flowers aren’t dead and place them in your newly made vase.
Okay. . .I lied. There might have been some slight fine tuning with some strategic sanding mixed in there, but you get the idea. Right?